The first use for the selvedge is to see if the manufacturer decided to write anything on there. On wool fabrics, the percentage/quality of wool, or factory name, might be woven into the selvedge. It might say "Super 140's" or "Worsted" or "Pura Lana". On printed cotton, the colors of the print and copyright/pattern/other information might be printed on the selvedge. The selvedge might tell you the fabric is by "Robert Kaufman" or that it's part of a "Chantilly collection" or that there were five colors used in the print. Printed cotton also often has white selvedges, as the printed pattern doesn't go all the way to the edge.
Some selvedges have decorative or fuzzy edges, which are kind of neat, and can be used for trim on garments. Chanel was famous for using the selvedged edges of her fabric to make decorative trims on the outside of clothing. I have sometimes cut skirts on the cross grain so the selvedge served as a ready-made hem.
Selvedges can be used in clothing construction anywhere that you might otherwise use non-stretchy tape:
Or the selvedges can be used as ties for random household uses.
THRIFT OR HOARDING?
Recently, my friend had a bunch of leftover selvedge after cutting a quilt backing. I rolled it all up and stuck it in a drawer with my bias tape, twill tape, hem facings, and lace trims. I know I will use it for something....
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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