Although my UFO list is as long as my right arm (which is slightly longer than my left), I have jumped back into sewing with a brand new project. If you're an Instagram follower, you know that I've been working my way through the selvage drawer. It's about time, because I could hardly cram another strip of fabric into that drawer! I've made a few small selvage projects over the years, which you can see here, here, here and here. Recently my friend Diane posted her selvage string blocks on IG (where she is ylmommyx4) with the hashtag #selvageblockalong and I was immediately inspired to get busy.
If you google, or search Flickr for "selvage", "selvage strings" or "selvage quilts" you will find several different options. For a couple of years, I'd been thinking of sorting my selvages by colour and using them in a colour-blocked quilt somehow. I just like to be a little more organized in my scrappy efforts: sometimes completely random is too much like work for me!
The blocks I'm making are 10 1/2" unfinished, so a complete colour block (above) will finish up at 20" square. I haven't decided if I'll use my blocks like this, so I'm not going to sew them together until I use up all my selvage strips and see where things sit at that point. Ideally, I'd like a usable quilt about 80" square, but I don't think I have enough selvage to get there as that would require 16 huge blocks.
Here's a quickie tutorial for the blocks I'm making.
Supplies for one 20 1/2" (unfinished) Selvage Colour Block
4 squares newsprint paper 10 1/2" x 10 1/2"
2 squares solid colour 5" x 5" cut once on the diagonal
a pile of selvage strips 10" to 40" long* matching your solid colour
disappearing fabric pen
*note that I generally cut my selvage with at least 1" of print above the white selvage strip. If the selvage is extra 'hairy' with a long fringe of threads, I carefully cut the fringe off without compromising the finished edge.
1. Fold the paper once diagonally and crease to mark the diagonal OR draw a pencil line corner to corner. This is a guide to help you keep your strips running at 45 degrees. Mark a 1/4" seam allowance on the long side of one solid triangle. Pin the solid triangle to one corner of the paper foundation, with the marked diagonal lines parallel to each other.
2. Place the first selvage strip on the solid triangle, overlapping the finished selvage edge to the 1/4" marked line. Pin in place. I used my longest selvage (you need about 40") for the first strip on each of the 4 squares that will make up one colourblock. If I decide to piece my blocks like the one shown above, with a central solid diamond, having the same selvage print outline the solid will better define it and give it a more balanced appearance.
3. Using a reduced stitch length for security and also to make it easier to remove the paper foundation later (I reduce to 2.0 from a 'normal' 2.5), topstitch the selvage strip with an 1/8" seam allowance.
4. Repeat step 3, making sure each selvage strip is long enough to completely cover the paper and overlapping the previous strip by at least 1/4". I just eye-balled this and most of mine are probably overlapped by 3/8". Continue until the entire foundation is covered.
5. Press the completed foundation with a dry iron. Turn the piecing upside down and trim the square to 10 1/2" using the paper as a guide. Because all of the trimmed selvage edges of the square are on the bias, I plan to keep my paper foundations on until the squares will be sewn together.
Just a couple of notes.....Seam allowances here are only 1/8" or so. The smaller stitch length will help keep these seams intact over time, but I will likely quilt this heavily for extra stability. Selvages have tiny permanent holes in them where the fabric was attached to the printing rollers. There's a good chance that the batting will beard, or work it's way through these holes, over time. I don't have any illusions of this becoming an heirloom quilt! It's a fun project to use up interesting strips of fabric and to look at and remember favourite prints. It's a quilter's Eye Spy!
Here's the first blue one. There will be more as blue is my most abundant selvage pile!
If you make some blocks using this tutorial or any other selvage string ideas, please share on IG using #selvageblockalong ! You can also join and post photos in Diane's Selvage Block-Along Flickr group .
No selvages in your stash? Start saving now. You won't believe how fast they accumulate! I typically don't cut off the selvage until I am going to use the fabric in a project, however if I want to see this quilt idea through to a finish, I may have to raid my stash for more strips.
Hope you're having a lovely weekend. I look forward to hanging out with you here more often again!