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5 key tips for sewing with selvages on the PFAFF passport 2.0

by Sarah Vanderburgh

This week, I’m using the PFAFF passport 2.0 to create a wall quilt for my sewing room using selvages. I’ve held onto these selvages for a long time and I’m thrilled to finally incorporate them into a project. To add an extra dimension to the quilt, I’m utilizing the decorative stitches available in the passport 2.0 to stitch the selvages together. Here are five tips on how to use the features of the passport 2.0 to sew with selvages.

PFAFF passport 2.0 sewing machine

The PFAFF passport 2.0

Gather Selvages

To make this project I’m first sewing the selvages together to make a piece of fabric. From the selvage fabric I will cut out components for the wall quilt. I collected approximately 18 selvage strips varying in width from 1” – 2” wide (most are around 1½”) and no shorter than 16”. Selvages from a fat quarter bundle or one line of fabric would be enough for this project. Of course, if you collect selvages, you can decide on a color palette or theme for your selvages. In my case I’m using several from a favorite fabric line from years ago and a few from current favorites. If you don’t collect selvages yet and are interested, check out my free tutorial, How to Make Selvage Fabric.

Cut a piece of cotton fabric for a foundation to stitch the selvage strips onto. The piece should be 14½” x 15”, it can be a little bigger but not much smaller. To check that I’ve picked out enough selvage pieces I lay them out on top of the foundation fabric, overlapping them approximately ⅛”. This is the perfect time to lay the selvages out in the order I want to sew them and take a quick photo. I always make sure I have one or two extra selvages in case I use a wider seam allowance between certain strips because of the selvage design.

My last step before starting to sew is to iron my selvages.

Fabric selvages laid out on top of cotton fabric covering it; PFAFF passport 2.0 sewing machine

Selvage strips laid out on foundation cotton fabric checking for coverage

TIP 1 Presser Feet and the IDT System

I’m using the machine’s regular straight stitch and alternating decorative stitches built into the passport 2.0 to sew the selvages to the foundation fabric. The machine includes the amazing PFAFF IDT system evenly feeding the layers of fabrics over the feed dogs. Many of the presser feet included with the machine work with the system; you can tell because they have a cut-out at the back. To use the system, you push it forward and engage it into the back of the raised presser foot. Do a quick push down on the back and pull it back to disengage it. It’s easier than it sounds and it works great!

Here’s a quick video to get a good sense of the IDT system: What makes it so perfect? PFAFF original IDT System

To check which presser foot to use with a stitch, press the i button on the front of the machine for more information. Now that I have used the machine a bit more since my last posts, I can tell you that after a long press, you can remove your finger and the presser foot information will stay on the screen for a few additional seconds (before I thought you had to keep your finger on the button to see it.)

Using the i button to check which presser foot to put on

Press the i button to have the presser foot information appear on the screen.

The tip here is that there are several decorative stitches included on the passport 2.0 that do not use a presser foot that engages with the IDT System; these stitches have elements that stitch out from side to side making it not an option. The presser feet for these stitches do not have a cut-out at the back. It’s easy to check which presser foot to use and worth the time to switch the foot to ensure beautiful and accurate stitching.

Side view behind needle showing IDT System not engaged with the presser foot.

Presser foot with no cut-out and IDT System not engaged.

TIP 2 Use red guidelines

Sewing selvages to foundation fabric is different than sewing two fabrics together because I’m not concerned about a seam allowance. The printed edge of the selvage is not in danger of unravelling so I sew the next selvage over top of the cut edge of the selvage before it. The amount of overlap should be a minimum of ⅛” and can be greater if it’s a wide strip. This sewing line secures the two selvage pieces to the foundation and presents a design opportunity. I use the red guide mark on the presser foot as my stitch line, when it’s a straight stitch I line up the guide close to the edge. When I’m stitching out a decorative stitch, I line the guide mark up with the center of the stitch, ensuring that the design will secure the fabrics together.

Close-up view of needle and presser foot position on selvage pieces with red guide mark on the dotted line on the selvage.

Presser foot red guide mark lined up close to the edge of the overlapping selvage

TIP 3 Use the needle down button and start/stop buttons to sew

When I’m stitching out decorative stitches I use the start/stop button to sew. I line up my selvage, press the needle down button which keeps the needle in the fabric when the machine is not stitching, then press the start/top button to sew. I keep an eye on the stitching line and guide the fabric to keep my desired stitching line in front of the red guide mark on the presser foot. I find using the start/stop button results in crisp stitches and I don’t have to keep my foot on the foot pedal. I adjust the stitching speed using the speed control lever on the front of the machine. When I reach the end of the stitching line I press the button again to stop the machine.

Front view of needle and throat area showing location of start/stop button

Start/stop button is located above the reverse button on passport 2.0.

TIP 4 Use selvage designs as inspiration for stitch choices

At first, I intended to sew a line of decorative stitching between each selvage but quickly realized that it would take me a bit longer and be a lot of decisions! Sometimes it’s not worth adding a decorative stitch because the space between selvages is too narrow or the design on the selvage will obscure the stitching. You can see examples of both in the photo below.

Once I permitted myself to go with the flow I found it easier to decide when and which stitch to use. I also discovered I could pick a design based on the selvage fabric. The photo below is an example where I chose the x stitch to match the x print on the selvage fabric and a leaf stitch to match a floral selvage.

Close-up of several rows of stitching showing stitches selected based on fabric designs of florals and cross-hatch as well as straight line on narrow strips and busy fabric.

The decorative stitches used to make the selvage fabric

TIP 5 Have fun

I always enjoy sewing a project with selvages. I enjoy creating a piece of unique fabric and making design decisions as I go. I was inspired by the PFAFF passport 2.0 to enjoy the process as I discovered stitches and easily switched out the presser foot.

Selvage fabric under the needle with full view of passport 2.0 and the stitch card pulled out

Creating a selvage fabric with decorative stitches on the passport 2.0.

When I finished covering the foundation piece I noticed several of the selvage fabrics were longer and trailing over the edge. I decided to keep them instead of trimming them off. I’ll try to incorporate them into the final piece. I’m looking forward to seeing this project come to life thanks to the PFAFF passport 2.0. Join me tomorrow.

Selvage fabric stitched with straight and decorative stitches with excess selvage strip ends still attached

Selvage fabric completed with longer tails still attached

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: The Selvage Wall Quilt | Decorative Stitches create letters


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