Yesterday, I made a cushion cover to match my version of the Spectrum QAL quilt. I’m back with another exciting project today! When I began working with the Blue Stitch collection by Riley Blake Designs for the Spectrum QAL, I admired the selvages on the fabrics. Before I cut any pieces for my blocks, I cut off the selvages with about 1″ of fabric.
It was time to figure out what to do with those selvages. Remember, I’m a visual designer and, most times, can’t be bothered with calculating and measuring. I like to make things, and I’m getting lazy, so I make things up as I go!
I started by looking at the selvages. I love the little symbols and the fonts.
I must confess, I’ve saved selvages for years. Some are much more interesting than others, and I’ve found that design houses are making the selvages more attractive, which is exciting. They know we’re using them to create projects.
So, what part of the selvage is one supposed to use? You’ll find things like cute symbols, the name of the collection, the company’s name, the technical information (sometimes), and some white space. Do you know the colors along the selvage indicate how many colors are in that particular print, and each dot represents a pass during the screen-printing process? Here’s an interesting bit of information: you won’t find those color dots on digital prints, as the printing process is entirely different and can involve thousands of colors!
Because I had a lot of selvages to work with, I decided it would be way more interesting to use only (or mostly use) the parts with the writing.
What would I make? I decided some zippered pouches would be a great project. I’m following the instructions for my Zippered pouch tutorial that I wrote for QUILTsocial several years ago.
I decided I didn’t want to waste the selvages by putting them on the bottom of the pouch. So, I cut some strips at 2¼” for the bottom. It’s best to sew the selvages to a foundation, so I started with pieces of muslin at 10½” wide x 9″ high. However, your base can be any size you want. I laid the 2¼” strip at the bottom of each of the foundations. I laid out the first piece of selvage, ensuring it overlapped the bottom strip by about ¼”.
I found two white 9½” (or 20cm long) zippers in my zipper stash, so that was how I came up with the size for the foundation. I made the sides of the pouch about 1″ longer than the zipper.
Some of the selvages had a fuzzy edge to them. I very carefully trimmed that away.
At first, I thought I would stitch the selvages with a straight stitch. That would have left a slight ridge at the edge, and I decided I didn’t want that. Instead, I chose a blanket stitch. I tested it on a scrap of fabric to get the width and length of stitch that I liked. On the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2 sewing and embroidery machine, I used Stitch B:6, with a width of 2.5 and a length of 2.5.
I used white thread and the Open Toe Foot. It was super easy, and the most challenging part was deciding which selvage to use next and how to position the writing. It just so happened that with a 10½” foundation, I could capture a significant portion of each section of words/symbols. It was the perfect length. You can look and measure your selvages, or just wing it as I did. That sixth sense of design kicked in again! If you look to the right of the needle, you can see the blanket stitch. It looks amazing.
I made sure not to use the same selvage twice on the same side of the bag. I got lucky once again, and with the bottom strip and six rows of selvages, it was enough to cover the side of the pouch. You can plan that or wing it. Don’t get me wrong, I love precision and will plan out complicated projects, but something easy like this – well, there’s something to be said for the freedom of planning as you go. It’s a great learning experience.
Then it was time to trim the excess selvages off.
I ended up with four panels that look like this. I just love them! I was able to graduate the colors from dark at the bottom to light at the top. I’m using white zippers, so it worked out nicely!
Now that the sides of the zippered pouch are complete, it’s time to organize the rest of the supplies.
There are many options for the middle layer of a pouch. My favorite is a combination – fusible fleece for the outer sides and a firm, nonwoven, fusible stabilizer against the lining fabric. I really like the stability this combination provides.
I cut the interfacing and fusible fleece to 10½” x 9″. I have the two zippers and a small piece of fabric to make the zipper ends.
I fired up the Singer Steam Press ESP2 to fuse the fusible fleece and the firm, nonwoven, fusible stabilizer to the appropriate pieces. If you’ve ever worked with these products, you know it can take a long time to fuse the pieces in place. Let’s see how the steam press works. Oh, my! I’m in love with the Singer Steam Press, and I’ll never try to fuse large pieces with an iron ever again! I pressed each piece twice – once with the right side up and once with the right side down (just for good measure). The entire piece of the fusible product evenly adhered to the fabric. It was so easy and so fast.
It worked equally well for the firm fusible stabilizer, which was fused to the lining. Wow!
With everything fused in place, it was time to trim the pieces to size. I trimmed each to 10¼” (wide) x 8¾” (high). Again, those numbers are arbitrary – just keep in mind the length of your zipper.
I marked the box corners and, using scissors, cut away the corners of all the pieces. I wanted the selvages to sit more or less at the bottom of the side of the zippered pouch, but there’s no need for you to get super fussy about this. The strip I added along the bottom was 2¼”. I had to allow for a ¼” seam allowance, so I marked and cut a 1½” square on the bottom corners of all pieces. That may not logically make sense, but it works!
Following the directions in my previous blog post on zippered pouches, here are the two prepared zippers.
The zippers are inserted between the front and lining pieces of the zippered pouch. I don’t think I’ve ever had the front and the lining match so well! I sewed these pouches at a virtual sewing retreat, where slow and steady was the motto of the day. You’ll notice there are a few spots with no writing in the selvages, but no single selvage was completely blank. I also tried to vary the position of the wording/motifs. You can choose to do whatever you want with your selvages.
And here’s what it looks like from the lining side. I used the same fabric I had used for the backs of the quilt and the cushion I made for the Spectrum QAL 2020.
I then topstitched through all layers on both sides of the zipper to give a nice crisp edge. I did change this step from my original pattern. The topstitching is along the zipper only, not to the edge of the pouch.
The rest of the construction was the same as outlined in that previous blog post.
I then had to sew the box corners shut. This method of making the corners is my favorite way to make the corners of any bag. It’s so fast and very accurate.
Oh… don’t forget to open the zipper before you sew the front and lining together! Otherwise, it’s a challenge to get the bag turned inside out. I used the sewing machine to close off the opening in the lining instead of doing it by hand, and before I knew it, I had two gorgeous, zippered pouches made from selvages.
Look at the bottom of the pouches. The 2¼” strip was perfect for the bottom.
See how the selvage sits right on the bottom? It was perfect. And the best part is that I didn’t fuss with measurements – I just went with my gut instinct, and it was right again. The thing to remember is, there is no right or wrong. You can do whatever you want with the design and the size.
Did I use up all the selvages? I did not! I still have a few left. Some of the bits are too short for anything, so those will go into the garbage. I mean, there must be a moment when the bits simply go, no? And once the name of the collection or the brand is gone, there’s not much point in using the selvages, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use them somewhere.
I have one more project to make with the selvages, and I’ll share that with you in another post soon Stay tuned.
There you have it—a great way to use up your selvages. You could make a tote bag, placemats, hot mats, a quilt, or anything really where the extra weight of the foundation won’t be a detraction to the project.
I’m thrilled once again to use the Blue Stitch collection from Riley Blake Designs. The combination of blue and white is gorgeous, and I love how I was able to get the gradated effect from light to dark on the zippered pouches.
Have a super day!
This is part 2 of 3 in this series
Go back to part 1: Designing a cushion with scraps and shopping from your stash
Go to part 3: Using selvages to make quilt labels: Blue Stitch