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Making Bookmarks with Selvage Fabric

Updated on May 10, 2014

Sewing with Selvages -- Make a Bookmark

If you sew or collect fabric (and mean to sew with it!), you know what selvage is. If you don't sew, let me explain.

Selvage is the finished edge of fabric; it's finished so that edge of the fabric won't fray. Only one edge of the fabric has a selvage edge. It is nice and straight, and often it has words and symbols or pictures printed on the very edge that denotes the manufacturer, name of the fabric, circles with colors used in the fabric, and other information.

I'm a selvage lover from way back. I started saving the selvage edge of fabric years ago, and my daughter saves her selvage for me, too.

I started seeing crafts and sewing projects made from these fabric edges. I decided to do some sewing with selvages. For my first project, I made some selvage bookmarks.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Selvage Fabric - The Finished Edge

Strips of selvage fabric.
Strips of selvage fabric.

Like I mentioned, the selvage on fabric is the edge that is finished so it won't fray or unravel.

This photo shows examples of strips of selvage fabric. I just love the writing on fabric selvages; I think they're beautiful! Do you?

Fabric by the Yard - Start with Beautiful Fabric for Lovely Selvage

These fabrics are available on Amazon. Think of the beautiful pillows or curtains or any number of other projects you could make with the fabric. Then think of the great selvage bookmarks or other projects you could make with the selvage!

Strips of Selvage - Prepare Your Materials

Strips of selvage ready to be sewn together.
Strips of selvage ready to be sewn together.

To make a selvage bookmark, start with at least three or four strips of selvage. The exact amount you'll need will depend on how wide your strips are and how wide you want your bookmark to be.

I started with these strips (shown on the left) and a piece of fabric for the back (shown on the right).

Iron the strips. This strips of selvage fabric tends to curl and twist so ironing is helpful to straighten them out and be ready to sew the bookmark.

Sewing the Bookmarks

Sewing the bookmark.
Sewing the bookmark.

This photo shows my trusty old Kenmore sewing machine in action. I placed the wrong sides of the selvage to the wrong side of the base fabric and pinned them together. In other words, I had the front side (or the right side or "pretty" side) of the fabric facing out for both sides.

The back piece of fabric offers support so your bookmark is sturdier.

I used a decorative zigzag stitch (about all my old machine will do) to sew a top stitch to attach the selvage strips to the backing fabric. Note: Top stitching shows as opposed to a hidden seam stitch, which is hidden! Surprise, surprise.

Sew the length of each strip attaching one to the next.

Rust-Dyed Fabric for the Backing

Rust-Dyed Fabric for the Backing
Rust-Dyed Fabric for the Backing

Quilted Bookmarks

Selvage bookmarks are like little quilts for your books.

Finish the Bookmarks

Bookmarks made with selvage fabric.
Bookmarks made with selvage fabric.

When I had finished sewing the strips of selvage to the backing fabric, I realized that was one wide bookmark!

No problem. I cut them in two to make two bookmarks. I finished the edges around each bookmark using a zigzag stitch. The edges have some loose threads but I kind of like that look.

If you're pickier than me (and you probably are since I love the rustic, primitive look), you can hand finish the edges or use a fancy stitch or even go whole hog and add bias tape around the edge. Fancy!

Do You Like Selvage - Will You Save Your Selvage for Me?

Fun quilted bookmark.
Fun quilted bookmark.

Seriously, if you look at selvage and say "eh," I'll pay the postage for you to ship your selvage strips to me. Seriously.

Are you a fan of selvages?

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Use Selvage to Make a Tissue Holder - Little Strips of Fabric

Tissue holder using selvage fabric.
Tissue holder using selvage fabric.

I made this tissue case using some selvage (and other) strips of fabric. The words don't show on this one but they appear on the back in the white portion.

Save the Selvages and Other Great Scrap Quilting Books - Books to Inspire Selvage Fabric Projects

If you sew you know that sewing can leave behind lots of scraps of fabric. And if you're like me, you don't want to throw these scraps away. Making these cute little bookmarks is a great way to use up scraps in a quick and easy project.

I just made four selvage bookmarks in less than an hour. They're quick and fun to make!

SAVE THE SELVAGES Quilting Project Book Cozy Quilt Designs using Fabric Selvages for Small Projects
SAVE THE SELVAGES Quilting Project Book Cozy Quilt Designs using Fabric Selvages for Small Projects

I think this book looks like it has so many fun projects using just the selvage. Love that look!

ScrapTherapy® Scraps Plus One!: New Patterns to Quilt Through Your Stash with Ease
ScrapTherapy® Scraps Plus One!: New Patterns to Quilt Through Your Stash with Ease

Use up little scraps of fabric (and some selvage if you want) with these projects.

Quilts from the Selvage Edge
Quilts from the Selvage Edge

Quilting with selvage. Now you're talking!


Are you a fan of selvage?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      You're quite creative to come up with these bookmarks. I have a lot of fabric, so I should give this a try. Always need more bookmarks.

      Rustic is good since my sewing skills are so-so.

    • CassandraCae profile image

      Cassandra Kuthy 4 years ago from Ohio

      love this

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 4 years ago

      This is a fantastic idea for leftover selvage fabric. Great lens, thanks for sharing. Take care :)

    • noner profile image

      noner 4 years ago

      I've been looking for SIMPLE sewing projects to help me learn how to use my seweing machine, and I think this is an AWESOME idea!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      It reminds me of modern art!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 4 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Would have given this a like if there was a button, but I like your bookmarks. I've really never been a selvage fan. I can see that you've found a good use for them though.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I used to use salvages sometimes in the old days of being a hippie but not in recent years. It seems like such a waste not to use them and you are always coming up with clever and practical ideas. I know it must be so frustrating that this was featured but no one can rate it and no buttons either, did G+.

    • profile image

      memoboard 4 years ago

      Very creative use of small pieces of fabric.

    • profile image

      kathryn-gillespie 4 years ago

      Great idea, Peg! Great use of selvage!