How to make Selvage Fabric – free tutorial

Sample Zipper bag from Selvage Fabric

Gone are the days of boring selvage on fabric.

Fabric companies are now getting creative on the edges as well, which can make them a lot of fun to sew with!

What is “selvage” exactly?

A selvage (US English) or selvedge (British English) is a “self-finished” edge of fabric, keeping it from unraveling and fraying. The term “self-finished” means that the edge does not require additional finishing work, such as hem or bias tape, to prevent fraying.

The terms selvage and selvedge come from “self-edge”, and have been in use since the 16th century. (source: wikipedia)

The selvage is also where the factory can double check the colors used in the printing process – that is where there are dots or other more fun shapes on the selvage as well. Copyrights (who created and owns the pattern), the fabric manufacturer name and/or website are also often included.

After creating a pretty robust Pinterest board dedicated to the topic of “Sewing with Selvage”  I decided I wanted to give it a shot with the selvage from my Homestead Life fabric. I just LOVE the colorful cows!

Since I’m pretty zipper bag obsessed these days (they are quick and easy to make in between bigger quilts and other creative projects) I decided to make a bag with “selvage fabric” as I call it for lack of a better term.

You can put your selvage in any direction: horizontal, vertical, diagonal – even create quilt patterns like a log cabin or star!

For this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a diagonal selvage fabric piece. The technique is easy so you can adjust to whatever layout you prefer.

Step 1: Prepare your Fusible Fleece and Selvage

Selvage: As I work on other projects I cut off the pretty side of the selvage with about an inch of the fabric pattern too. (Both sides of the fabric are “selvage” but usually one is the print of the fabric and the other has the color-check spots, copyright info, etc). I gather them in a bin and wait until inspiration strikes!

When you are ready to create with your selvages, iron them so them are crisp and smooth.

How to make Selvage Fabric - free tutorial

Fusible Fleece: I like to use Fusible Fleece when creating something that needs a little body and support – like a zipper bag. (Pellon 987F is my current favorite – there’s a link at the bottom of the post with all the supplies). It’s a little stiffer than batting and you have the added security of ironing and fusing the fleece to the selvages after you have sewn them together.

Because of the stability of fusible fleece I cut my fleece to the size I need for my project.

Fabric square or triangle for the corners – you won’t need this if you are doing a horizontal or vertical layout. Using a scrap of fabric that matches the selvages, have a triangle or a 3″ square for the first and last corners.

Step 2: Make a basic plan

For your selvage fabric to look it’s best you do want to take a few minutes and plan the order and placement of your selvage pieces.

If you have small pieces, plan on using them on the top or bottom and not in the middle.

Step 3: Start sewing!

IMPORTANT: have the fusible side of your fleece UP when sewing. You want the back of the selvage pieces on the fusible material so when you iron it you are fusing the fabric to the fleece and not the fleece to the ironing board. (I’m not the only one who has done that, right??)

Start in the bottom left corner. Place your triangle or square in the corner and stitch diagonally to hold it in pace.

Selvage edges don’t fray so it’s quick and easy! When you place a selvage strip down just make sure it covers the cut edge of the previous piece so there won’t be any fraying. Stitch in place.

How to make Selvage Fabric - free tutorial

I like to do a quick check to make sure my stitching was over all of the previous fabric I simply fold the piece I just sewed down back to make sure I can see all of the previous pieces cut edge. If I don’t, I either rip out the stitching I just did or add another row to make sure everything is securely stitched in place.

How to make Selvage Fabric - free tutorial

Continue adding selvage pieces across your entire piece of fusible fleece.

When you get to the top right corner you have two options – you can stop 2 to 2½″ from the corner and use another square or triangle of fabric or you can just adhere selvage pieces to the corner. There is no right or wrong – just your personal preference.

If you opt for a fabric square or triangle, this is sewn on a little differently since all of its edges will fray.

Place the right side down on top of the right sides of the selvages already sewn on the fusible fleece. If you are using a triangle, line the edge up with the edge of the last selvage. If you are using a square, line up the diagonal line with the edge of the selvage.

Before sewing in place, fold it back and make sure it covers the rest of the fusible fleece. If it does, stitch in place with a ¼″ seam, fold it open and finger press.

Step 4: Iron

Following the fusible fleece manufacturers instructions, iron the whole project. While it is already assembled from your stitching, this extra step helps give it more stability for your project.

Step 5: Trim

Put your new Selvage Fabric on your cutting mat face down so the fleece side is up.
Trim the fabric and selvages that go behind the fleece.

How to make Selvage Fabric - free tutorial

YOU ARE DONE! Now you have cool, custom fabric for your project!


Be sure to save it to Pinterest and follow me for more ideas and resources for sewing, crafting and creative living.

If you make this or other projects and post on Instagram, be sure to tag me (@artisttarareed). Follow my YouTube channel for new sewing projects and tips every week.

🧵 Tara Reed

P.S. Is there a sewing tutorial you’d love to see? Leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my idea list!


Pinterest board with more ways to use selvage


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