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creative use of selvages

Marcy | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I have some nice suiting fabric with an interesting selvage.  I wonder if someone could suggest, or send me to a site, that has interesting, creative uses of selvages.

Thanks in advance for your ideas.


  1. Jean | | #1

    Here's one idea. Cut the selvages off of your fabric and use in place of twill tape in shoulder seams, etc.

  2. stitchmd | | #2

    They can be used as a surface trim, like soutache braid, or a seam insert, like piping.

  3. KarenW | | #3

    Marcy, is it the woven part of the selvage that's interesting? Does it have fringe?  What type garment are you making from it?  I've used selvage with interesting fringe to edge a Sewing Workshop Plaza jacket (over a year ago... I'm never ahead of fashion trends like that!) and am doing another jacket pattern more Chanel style like where extending beyond the selvage is beautiful fringing. I almost bought another piece today just for the selvage/fringe treatment in beautiful colors!  Seam inserts, trim, turning it into tie closures for a blouse or sleeve to pull it in closer to arm, an edge trim where a facing and lining meet to "fancy up" the seam there....  Another piece I had in the stash, a rayon knit, had a selvage that almost ruffled, similar to a lettuce edge.  My daughter designed a skirt turning the fabric askew and cutting a hole in middle, serging on elastic, and when it was on it draped with lots of asymmetry like so many skirts we're seeing in pattern books now.  the way it was done some edges were straight and others had the ruffled edge...  Now I really want to know what's special about the selvage and what you're making! 


    1. Marcy | | #4

      Thanks for your ideas.  I see I didn't make clear that this selvage is a fringe.  Today in the NY Times Style section I see that fringe is "in".  I think I will put it down the front of the jacket.  I also am thinking of having it show on the side seams, wrapping the edge of the other fabric in it.  On the other hand I am hippy so maybe that will be too much.  IF not I think I will put a strip around the hem. 

      1. KarenW | | #5

        If you want to avoid calling attention to your hips you could just use the fringe on the front and collar, and sleeve hems. I'm just finishing one doing this, for the sleeves I cut to length I wanted + 5/8" s.a., then make a facing piece for the hem and stitch the fringe into seam allowance.


        1. CTI | | #6

          Thank you everyone, I am so grateful for the knowledge you share. I don't ever recall a fringed selvage, but I could be mistaken and haven't bought fabric lately.

          I also agree with you, karenw, that it would be well placed at cuffs, collar and down the front. Of course it depends on the design - it's possible a fake pocket welt or two - hope that's the right term - would be another option. If you angle them slightly up, away from your waist and front, they or any decor can give the appearance of an hourglass figure or at least draw the eye up and away from the hips.

          Would it be suitable to be made into frogs, or dangly earrings, wrist or ankle wear, or embellishing a basic purse temporarily by wrapping the strap?

          It could look quite seductive in the skirt shown in the latest poll with variations on back kick pleats, but might end up with excessive wear if sat on much.

          It just occurred to me that if you choose it for cuffs I'd consider a form of attachment that is removeable in case you dip them - ok, in case I dip them - in spaghetti sauce <G> Likewise if the collar is standup if you wear makeup. If you just do the front and collar and not the cuffs which often may be near your hips, it also brings the eye up.

          This isn't creative but it is easy. Use a selvage as the hem. This works on casual fabrics for a tie-wrap over-shorts or swimsuit skirt and I wish I knew the term, but many cultures have wrap clothing. If the selvage looks too obvious you can embellish with whatever - selvages are generally extremely strong so you can even attach beads. I have a fuzzy vision of this in an asymmetrical hemline where pieces are cut on the bias but can't quite get it clear. I think the drape of the fabric is all important too. Sorry for rambling but you all do inspire me <G>

          1. ShannonG4d | | #7

            I hope I don't get in trouble for mentioning a competitor's mag....LOL

            the latest issue of Belle Armoire has a jacket made entirely of printed selvedges.  It's pretty interesting. 

            I could see doing overlapping layers of fringed selvedges to make a yoke or a pocket.  Or cut the garment crossgrain and use the selvedge as the actual hem.  Cut a pocket with the selvedge on the top end, lengthen the pocket slightly so you'll have a turn-down flap with the selvedge as a fringed trim.  How about running an elastic casing behind the selvedge and ruching it?  You could weave some of them together and overlay them with a sheer (Lois Ericson had an article about this in Threads years ago....there, I've redeemed myself for mentioning the other mag!LOL).  Run the selvedge as an insert in a vertical seam on pants for a fringed tuxedo stripe.  Make a flat frog closure using the selvedge, miter it into a geometric shape, make buttons from threads pulled from the fabric (crochet or knot the threads to make a Chinese ball button). 

            Just a few ideas....I'm sure this group can think of several more.


          2. carolfresia | | #8

            "I hope I don't get in trouble for mentioning a competitor's mag....LOL"

            Not at all--we love Belle Armoire, too. In fact, now that you mention it, I wonder where the lastest office copy is? I'd like to see this selvage jacket. I love the selvages (usually on decorator fabrics) that have the colored registration dots--those would be fun to put together...

            That makes me think of something (slightly off-topic) I saw on the US version of "What not to wear" recently: the male host had a shirt that printed with what looked like paint chips. Lots of neatly aligned colored squares (probably rectangles, actually, but the effect was of squares), with, I think, tiny letter below to indicate the color name or i.d. number. It was kind of colorful, graphic, and humorous.


          3. Barbaran8 | | #16


            I loved Clinton's "Paint chips" shirt too!!! And so appropriate in an episode where they were trying to get the client to experiment with color!

          4. carolfresia | | #17

            I wish I could find that fabric--I think it would make a wonderful summer dress. Perhaps using the pattern that was "Fabricated" in the current issue of Threads (no. 113)--a terrific Burda shirtdress with princess seams. I love color and pattern, but don't wear much of either during the winter since I like my woolens to be extremely versatile. Summer is my time to go a little wild!


      2. FitnessNut | | #9

        Marcy, there have been some great ideas posted here. Any one of them should help you to use your selvedges creatively. As I was thumbing through Vogue a few minutes ago, I came across an advertisement with a photo of a coat using fringed selvedges inserted between the upper and lower collar pieces, the front and front facings, and at the lower edges of the sleeves. If you look carefully, you can see that the pocket flaps are similarly trimmed. To see it for yourself, check the April issue of Vogue, page 200 (an Arden B. ad). So you see, your inquiry is very "of-the-moment".


        1. Marcy | | #10

          Thanks for your comments.

  4. mem1 | | #11

    Hello Marcy,

                   I have been thinking of doing the same thing. That is using a tweed selvage on the front edge of  a jacket. I have seen this done and then trimmed with a grograin ribbon and even a braid on top of that. I think Chanel used selvages like this . I think you would have to be a bit careful when laundering as it might shrink more than the body of the fabric . This would only be if you were using a washable fabric.

    1. SewNancy | | #12

      LOved this conversation as I am experimenting with fringe for my Chanel style jacket.  I have blown up on my scanner every jacket with fringe that I have found.  Claire Schaefer talks about using yarn to make trim for a Chanel jacket and mounting it on ribbon  I have seen this with fringe underneath the trim too.  Too many choices to make!  Claire also uses fringe as a piped edge,which is the way I think I am going to go and then add braided yarn to trim the jacket next to fringe.


      Edited 4/12/2004 3:10 pm ET by Nancy

      1. mem1 | | #13

        I would love to know how it goes .I have  al ovely piece of Escada wool tweed which has a lovely fringe selvage so I am interested to see how you go. I worry about all the bulk in the seam.also about using a fusible interfacing on a fairly loosley woven tweed I feel that this could be a no no .What do you think?

        1. FitnessNut | | #14

          My experience on a loosely woven wool tweed has been that if you don't fuse, preferably before you cut the garment out, there will be nothing left of the seam allowances by the time you get to the sewing machine :-(

          I once made a jacket for a client that had fusible interfacing only in the upper back....the first time she wore it and reached for something, the fabric split next to the centre back seam, just below the bottom of the interfacing. It was a loosely woven wool bouclé. I've never encountered this before, so now I fuse all loosely woven fabrics prior to cutting them out. Time consuming, yes, but ultimately a time-saver.


        2. SewNancy | | #15

          I was planning on using fusible interfacing, I made several samples and found that Sof Knit for the body felt good for my weight fabric.  It did not flatten the fabric and stabilized the edge.  I am planning on using trim as a piping, but since this works out to be only one thickness instead of 2 in a typical piping it will probably be ok.  I am also working on a braided trim to put on edge.  I found yarn the same color as the aqua in my tweed. I was not planning on fusing the entire jacket until I read the next letter! 


          1. mem1 | | #18

            Yes i think i will fuse as well!!!!That jacket is my next project. i have been making a jacket out of a stretch woven fabric which is entirely synthetic and a taupe background witha fine rust stripe woven into it .I made it up using the selvage as a trim around the collar and at the yoke .It is a fine slky fringe in the russet shades and it looks terrific.The collar s curved and the stretch on the selvage made it easy to turn the curves.It has worked out VERY well and i will definitely do it again.Its the first time I have done a jacket in a stretch woven and i havent lined it as the pattern doesnt and i thought that i would give it a go even though it is against my principles to do so but ......

            If anyone out there is considering the selvage as a trim go for it !!!!

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