Salvaging Your Selvages

Salvaging: (Verb) … the act of saving anything from fire, danger, etc.” (the trash)

Selvage:  (Noun) ..the edge of woven fabric finished so as to prevent raveling, often in a narrow tape effect, different from the body of the fabric.”

The selvage of the fabric is that little strip down the lengthwise edge of the yardage.  It gives you lots of information…the fabric company, the fabric line, the designer, and little test dots in various colors.  They’re usually white, but occasionally may be a pale color.

Want to salvage your selvages?  Let’s get started!

Save your selvages.  I’ve learned to rotary cut at least 1-1/4” from the edge of the fabric so I can get a bit of the actual fabric along with the selvage edge.  That way I can decide later how much of the actual fabric I want exposed in my project.  I put the selvages in a container, one by one, and over time I accumulate a bunch of them.  You can see in the photo that I’ve got quite a pile.

Next you’ll need a foundation.  I used a piece of cotton muslin, but any cotton weight fabric will do—even that fabric you no longer like (it won’t show in the final project).  Then I cut the foundation fabric into the size square I wanted (5”).

Starting at one corner of the foundation square, lay down a small piece of fabric, then cover the raw edge with the outside edge of a selvage. Roughly cut off the ends—so it’s just a little larger than the foundation.  Next, pull another selvage from your pile and cover up the raw edge of the previous selvage with its outside edge.  Continue doing this until you have the entire foundation covered.   If you don’t like it, you can move them around at this point.

Once you’re happy with the arrangement, carefully set them next to your sewing machine in order and one by one top stitch each into place over the raw edge of the previous selvage and foundation piece.  You can choose to let a lot of the fabric show, or none at all—it’s up to you.  Continue sewing until the entire foundation is covered with your selvages.

I like to give it a good press with Best Press or other fabric sizing.

Then turn it over on your cutting mat and cut it to the size of your foundation piece, using your rotary cutter and ruler.


And there you have it!  A beautiful block you can use any way you’d like.  Because these were done diagonally across the foundation block, they make a nice zig-zag pattern when two or more are put together.

You can make several and sew them into a quilt.  Or make just a few and sew them together to make a bag or pouch.  The possibilities are endless.

I chose to make four blocks (two for the front and two for the back),

…added a bright green lining & batting and did a little straight stitch machine quilting…added a zipper

and made mine into a cute little zippered bag.


It’s the perfect size to carry a cell phone, sunglasses, keys, etc.…


or for keeping small things in order inside your luggage bag for the next trip…


My talented sister taught me how to do micro macramé while I visited her in Michigan (she makes amazing jewelry)—so I made a macramé zipper pull with a few beads just for fun.

What will you use your selvages for?  A quilt? …pillow? …vest? …purse?

Start saving them now, so you’ll have them when the creative urge strikes you! you can salvage your selvages!

(If you’re interested, the little zippered bag is for sale in my Etsy Shop HERE.)

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!


Mulberry Patch Quilts


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