In this article I will cover:
What is the selvage of a fabric? Where do you find it?
Selvage refers to the narrow, somewhat stiff edges on the left and right side of the fabric, along the straight grain/lengthwise direction. They are usually 20 mm wide on either side. They give strength to the fabric and prevent unraveling.
You may have heard of the term ‘selvage to selvage.’ This is the width of the fabric, from one selvage to the other. The width of the fabric is measured from the outward edge of one selvage to the outer edge of the other side.
In marking patterns, the fabric is folded by the middle along the length in a double fold so that the selvages are in line. This is also one way to know if the fabric is in grain.
How are they distinguished?
In most fabrics, there will be a distinct hardness along the edges; these selvages prevent the unraveling of the fabric. The weave will be tighter than that of the rest of the fabric.
The selvage may have pin stentor marks (Pins are used for stretching fabric for drying and finishing) – the edges are pinned with the pin stentors. But if the pin marks extend to the main fabric, the fabric may be rejected.
On the face of the fabric the selvage will feel smoother. The pin marks will be less visible as the piercing goes to the back.
Are Selvedge and Selvage same?
Both terms are the same. Selvedge is the non-American variant of the word selvage.
Selvedge – British English; Selvage – American English. That is all. Both words are derived from Self-edge.
How does selvage look in different fabrics
Usually, selvage appears as a stiff compressed, tightly woven area when compared to the other areas of the fabric. It will be distinct in feel and even looks.
This refers to irregular yarns projecting outside the selvage
This selvage will be in the shape of scallops. These will be finished with embroidery.
Usually, the selvage is of the same width throughout the length of the fabric. Sometimes, this is not the case. Dogs-legs is the name used when the selvage varies in width.
Usually, the selvage and nonselvage area will be distinguished. But not always. Some fabrics may have a very undistinguished selvage that almost feel like the rest of the fabric.
Some selvages may have designs or brand names, name of the designer or names of fabric and even website names woven into them.
What is the selvage used for? Do you cut off the selvage and discard it?
The primary purpose of the selvage is to stop the fraying of the yarns at the fabric’s edges. When patterns are cut from the fabric, the selvages are usually wasted. But recycling the selvages to make new projects is a very rewarding thing. It prevents the wastage of some really nice, tightly woven material. You can use selvage trimmings to make bags, cushions, carpets, and other projects.
When the warp threads are tight due to too much tension on the warp threads during textile weaving, it can result in the selvage curling. This is considered a defect in textiles.
What does selvage denim mean?
Selvage denim is dense, sturdy denim woven on shuttle looms with narrow widths. It is specialty denim with a distinct selvage. It is made by weaving one continuous weft yarn through the warp yarns. Because the warp yarn is continuous and the yarn changes direction at the edge creating a thick selvage there.
Selvage denim is used to make very distinct denim jeans with the selvages appearing on the side seams, and this becomes visible when on a turned-up cuff – it is famous as selvage jeans.