Selvedge, Selvage… whether you speak English or American, they’re the same thing. They are a gorgeous piece of fabric that often just gets thrown away. And that’s a shame.
I made this pillow for my partner in one round of the Pillow Talk Swap. I loved it so much I made another for my good friend Sukie, and thought I’d take some pictures along the way so you can see my method. I’m also in the process of using this block, only a little bigger, to make myself a king size quilt!
To start, when I cut my selvedges off the fabric, I do it before I start cutting the little strips I may be using so I get one big usable piece. I cut just 1″ off the edge, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting fabric, but I still have a usable piece.
The first time I made the pillow, I did it with a regular foundation piecing method, ripping all the fabric off the back when I was done. I didn’t love that – I felt like it left the selvedge blocks too flimsy. So I decided to use one of my favorite interfacings – Shape Flex by Pellon – to give it some stability and to eliminate that step of having to remove paper.
Start by cutting:
(12) 5.5″ x 5.5″ blocks of interfacing
(4) blocks of background fabric 5.5″ x 5.5″
(4) blocks of background fabric 6.5″ x 6.5″ (then cut these in half from corner to corner to make eight half square triangles)
Because I didn’t want my lines all wonky, and I didn’t want to draw lines on every piece of interfacing, I took a piece of copy paper, cut it to 5.5″ square, and drew my lines starting in the middle from corner to corner, then every 1/2″ on both sides.
Next, spend some time with a bucket full of selvedges and your ironing board. Lay one of your interfacing blocks down on top of your lined piece of paper, fusible side up. Now, using your drawn lines as a general guide, lay your selvedges out one at a time, overlapping the previous selvedge by 1/4″ each time. They will hang over the edges of your interfacing. No sewing yet, just lay them out and rearrange until you’re happy with how they look.
This is where you hit it with your iron to fuse those selvedges in place. Now they won’t shift around as you try to sew all the edges down. Just set this one aside until you have all the blocks fused to the interfacing. You will need to make four blocks with selvedge from corner to corner, and eight blocks with selvedge just to the halfway point. Make sure that on these ones you go at least 1/4″ past that halfway mark.
Now, take all 12 blocks to your sewing machine and stitch along the edge of each selvedge, about 1/8″ or less away from the edge. The selvedges won’t unravel on this side, so you can get right up there and not worry about fraying.
Once you’ve sewn the edges down, take them all to your cutting table and trim off those crazy overhanging edges, squaring them up to 5.5″ square.
Grab the eight blocks that are only half selvedge and draw a line on the back of the interfacing from corner to corner.
Take your half square triangles of background fabric and place one right side to your selvedge side of the half selvedge blocks. Make sure to extend it 1/4″ beyond the line you drew on the back of the interfacing. Now sew along that line from corner to corner.
Flip that half square triangle of background fabric away from the selvedges and hit it with the iron to fuse it to the interfacing too. Trim it up to 5.5″ square again and you’re ready to assemble the star.
Lay out your blocks in the following pattern, making sure you’re happy with how the selvedges are playing together. Sew them using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and finish your block however you would like.
You can turn it into a pillow like I did. Click here for a handy tutorial for inserting a zipper in a pillow back, or here for an invisible zipper with an invisible zipper foot or with your regular zipper foot.
It could be a mini quilt. You could make your individual blocks 8.5″ square, end up with a 32″ block and easily turn it into a quilt.
2 x 2 would make a generous throw. 2 across and 3 down would be twin sized. Or try 3 across and 3 down plus borders for a king size. I’m still playing with the layout here, and I will be switching out that black dictionary print block for another selvedge star.
I picked up that black Moda crossweave, the dictionary prints from Mama Said Sew and the black Madrona Road print from Amanda’s cute shop Westwood Acres. And can I just tell you how awesome she is? When I discovered the day before I left for a sewing retreat that I didn’t have enough crossweave, she sent it right away to my friend’s house to make sure it came before we left, and even included a treat with some hot cocoa packets and a note telling us to have a great time! Talk about customer service… she really has it down.