Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple Selvage Square Quilt Block Tutorial

 Ready to sew some selvages?  As promised, here's a tutorial to make the simple selvage squares which I showed a few posts ago.  These are 6 inch squares which I plan to arrange rail-fence style in the finished quilt once I get a big pile of them.
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Click any photo to enlarge if you wish.
 First, a word or two about selvages and what types I use.  I tried to show a variety of selvage types in the photo above -- wide and skinny selvages, those with the rows of pinholes, those with shaggy edges and selvages of different colours.  All are great to use with only two considerations: 1.  They must be from quilting cottons (for this project).  2.  They must be in good condition.  I suggest inspecting all your selvages for frayed areas, pulls, snags, uneven edges and other flaws.  Reject ones with damage.
 Now onto supplies.  You will need a pile of selvages, a pile of scraps, white thread, and the usual suspects -- scissors, rotary cutter, ruler, iron, sewing machine.  There is no need for any foundation fabric, paper, fusible or anything. 
 Look through your selvages.  Pick out all the ones with a nice wide strip of fabric showing.  There should be at least a half an inch of fabric above the white part minimum, but the more the better.  Most of mine have an inch or more of fabric above the white selvage part. 
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Then start cutting your lengths of selvage.  Cut them about 7 inches long.  You will be trimming your square at the end.  It is up to you if you only use selvage parts with printing, or a mix of printed and plain ones.  If you decide to cut all your selvage strips ahead of time in one big session, you can estimate how many you need overall by figuring it will take about 5 - 7 selvage strips per finished block.
 So onto sewing.  Take two selvages.  Lay the second one on top of the first.  Position it so as much of the fabric strip as you want is showing.  Just be sure at least 1/4 inch of fabric is overlapping.  As a tip, it sometimes helps to find a part in the fabric design that you can follow to keep the selvage strip straight.  In this case I used a row of dots as a guide.
 Sew with white thread.  Here you will see that I have my needle right in the middle of my foot.  It helps me to really watch what I'm doing.  My stitch length is the regular 2.5, same as always.  Sew very, very close to the selvage edge.  It may take some practice not to go off the edge while sewing, but you will get good at it soon.  (If you are sewing a selvage with a shaggy edge, sew just on the inside of the shaggy edge, right where it starts)
 Here it is all sewn.
 At this point I flip it over.  If there is more than 1/4 inch of fabric overlapped at the back I trim it down a bit.  I don't measure, just guess.  It is simply to reduce bulk overall.
 Add more strips the same way.  Keep going until you have around five inches of selvages sewn together.  You will get good at estimating really fast.
 Next, grab a scrap.  If you are wondering why I use a scrap here instead of another selvage, there are three reasons.  1.  Selvages are bulkier than regular fabric and this last piece will end up in the seam.  Why sew selvage bulk when you can sew regular fabric?  Also, I find selvages look weird if they are in a seam and only half showing.  Words get cut off.  2.  A scrap in this position saves on the amount of selvages you need overall.  One less selvage per block is a real saving over the course of the whole quilt.  3.  A scrap allows you to introduce fabrics and colours that you don't have in your selvage bin.  It is another way to add variety.
 Overlap and sew the exact same way you did with the selvages.
 Iron.  Then trim your block back to 6 inches square.
 Ta da!
As a final step, I suggest stay stitching the edge so nothing comes loose.  Stitch about an 1/8 inch in from the edge.
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I'd love to see your projects if you make some of these.  Selvage quilting is fun!
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If you have any questions about anything, leave them in the comments and I will answer right in the comment section too rather than emailing you.   That way everyone else can see the response in case they are wondering the same thing.  Thanks for stopping by!
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Posted by Riel Nason on The Q and the U
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18 comments:

Jodi said...

Thanks, Riel, I needed that! :-)

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

That's so much for the show and tell! I am so addicted, now if I only had MORE selvages!

Annie said...

Great tut! Adding a scrap for the seam allowance...now why couldn't I think of something that simple? I'm saving selvages and made small projects and used one or two in various projects, but haven't decided on a bigger project yet.

Cathy said...

I am just stunned by the wealth you have in selvages!

Kim said...

I have to get started on this...I have made a few selvage tops and even dolly quilts....my granddaughter thinks these are great and she can pick out letters on her top.

thanks for the tutorial..and your quilts are so inspirational.
Karen Griska sent me over for a look...I just love her book " Quilts from the Selvage Edge" don't you?
Remind folks to ask their friends to save selvages for them :0)

Happy Sewing

Anita in Florida said...

I think I'll start this...have made several totes with selvedges...but want to make a quilt now. Thanks for the nudge!

Teje said...

Thank you Riel, this was really helpful! Now i'm missing only lots of wonderful selvages as yours!Fortunately I have saved every one I have 'met'!
Have a lovely time!
xxx Teje

Carol w said...

Great tutorial! I couldn't figure out how people were doing this. Thanks.

Pinkadot Quilts said...

A rail fence will be perfect! I have to make one too.

Lynne said...

Thank you Riel, for a very easy to understand tutorial - it seems simple and straightforward enough; now to collect enough selvedges!

Riel Nason said...

You are most welcome for the tutorial. As to how I get so many selvages, I have many generous quilting friends who keep me well stocked -- which is a good thing since I go through plenty. As Kim says, be sure to spread the word to your quilting friends about your selvage needs ;-).

shirley said...

Great little tute...i was just telling someone yesterday how to do this. sometimes i use a base for my selvages, too. or ugly fabric i want to use up. LOL i have lots of selvage quilts on my blog if you are interested. www.brunerwoman.blogspot.com i think i like using selvages better than fabric. i like thinking up new ways to use them.

Sharon said...

Great tutorial, Rial! Well-written and easy to understand. Good photos too!

I assumed you were using a foundation fabric. It's good to know you don't have to. Thank you!

Lee said...

I love it! Thanks for a great tutorial, and thanks for linking up to WIP Wednesday. : )

Vesuviusmama said...

I've been wondering how you do this! So glad that you shared!

Crystal Hendrix said...

Thanks for the tutorial and tips! I have been saving selvege strips for awhile now so I can make something out of them! This helps a lot !

Laura said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I had a few questions about your process, but you have cleared them up with this tute.

Benta At SLIKstitches said...

Thank you! I've been collecting them, but apart from a mug rug, haven't known how to use them! This is a great idea!