Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tutorial: Selvedge Block and Quilt

In September I shared this quilt finish. For want of a name, it's my "Selvedges Quilt" that finished at 59" X 72". I designed the block. Several blog-followers let me know they'd like a tutorial to make this quilt, so here you are!

  • Lots and lots of selvedges! I used approximately 560 selvedge strips - only the parts with color, text, and color windows - to make 80 rectangle units, 5" X 9½" (unfinished).
  • Scrap fabrics, approximately 3½" X 6" for print pinwheels
  • Solid white fabric:
    • 12 - 5" X 5" squares
    • 18 - 5" X 9½" rectangles
  • 60-degree ruler
  • card stock, for a template
Assuming you've never cut and saved fabric selvages...

Each selvedge strip should be cut 1/2" beyond where the selvedge ends and the print begins. So most of my selvedges are approximately 1"-wide strips. I've saved them for years - more than 15 years - so I had (and still have) lots to work with. 

Prepare Selvages
If needed, press selvedges.

Sort by color. Six to 8 selvages are needed for each rectangle-shaped unit, so 24 to 32 selvages for one four-unit pinwheel.

Lay the selvedge strip on a cutting mat and select the section with the most color, text, or color windows (those little round circles of color). 

Cut roughly 10" to 10½" long until you have a total of 24 to 32 selvedges of one color family.  

This color range runs from pinks to rose.

Sew Selvedge Strips

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position the finished side of another selvedge strip on top, leaving approximately ¼" print showing on the under strip. Using a straight sewing machine stitch, edgestitch along the left side of the upper strip to join two strips.

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position a third selvedge strip on top of the right selvedge strip, again allowing ¼" of print to show. Stitch along the edge of the third selvedge to join.

Continue to add strips to create a rectangle of selvedges that's 5" to 5½" wide. Press.

Trim the unit to measure 5" X 9½".

Note: If necessary, it's perfectly acceptable to piece together two selvedge pieces to come up with a 10" to 10½" length.

Make Selvedge-Triangle Unit

Position a 60-degree ruler along the bottom edge of the selvedge rectangle. Align the left side of the ruler with the left corner.

Note that I chose to arrange all my rectangles "left-readable." It probably doesn't matter which direction you position your selvedges; just be consistent.


The triangle piece that's removed can be your template to cut the print fabric that will become one-fourth of a color-coordinated center pinwheel.

Cut print fabric flush with the bottom and right side of the selvedge triangle, but be sure to add 1/4" along the top/long side.

After making one like this, I got smart and made a paper template that I taped to the back of my ruler.  I used this template to cut the bottom and right sides...

... and made a second paper template, positioning it to a ruler to align the top/long side of the unit with the ruler's edge.

This sure made cutting easier.

The selvedge-triangle unit is pieced this way. 

With right sides together, align the raw edges of the cut selvedge piece and print triangle. Allow 1/4" overlap at the top and bottom of the seam.

Use a ¼" seam to join.

Press seam allowance toward triangle. 

The selvedge unit should have a ¼" seam allowance at the triangle end.

Completed selvedge unit measures 5" x 9½".

Choose selvedge colors to continue making four selvedge units using four different prints for triangles.

When you have enough units to begin playing on your design wall, you'll quickly see that though this is the layout you want... 

... the actual block to be sewn together looks like this.

At this point, I  auditioned different solid fabrics as center squares: two grays. I settled on white. 

Piece Blocks With Inset Seam

Assemble the block in counter-clockwise order. Refer to diagram below.

On the 5" X 5" center square, mark one corner 1/4" from two raw edges. 

Position selvedge Unit 1 in the "readable" (horizontal) direction, with the triangle at the right end. With right sides together, place the 5" x 5" square along the lower left sides of the non-triangle end of the selvedge unit, aligning the square with the left and bottom of the selvedge unit. With the square on top, stitch from the 1/4" mark to the end of the block.

Press seam allowance toward selvedge Unit 1.

With right sides together, position Unit 2 along seam 2 of the square, aligning the triangle end of Unit 2 with the edge of Unit 1, and the bottom end of Unit 2 with the bottom of the square. Sew a 1/4" seam along the length of Unit 2.

Press seam allowance toward Unit 2.

In the same way, add Unit 3 to side 3 of the square. Press seam allowance toward Unit 3.

Add Unit 4 to side 4 of the square, being sure to move Unit 1 away from the seam. Do not sew over Unit 1.  Press seam allowance toward Unit 4.

Sew the short 5th seam to join Unit 4 to Unit 1. Press seam allowance toward Unit 1.

From the back, the block looks like this, with seam allowances pressed toward selvedge units.

Each block is 13½" X 13½" with a plain square center that finishes at 4½".

Plain Rectangles

I could have finished the quilt layout with more selvedges, adding 5" by 5" selvedge squares to the outside edges, but instead chose to add plain rectangles so the design seemed more "floaty." 

In the same manner as piecing blocks, mark ¼" on two ends of a solid 5" X 9½" rectangle. Sew inset seams to join. 

Join blocks to complete the quilt top. Press seams open.

I chose to pin-baste my quilt, using rulers for domestic machine quilting, and embellishing with big stitch hand quilting. 


I used my favorite binding technique: No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine - found here, and here, and a PDF here - to complete my quilt. 

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, and making something fun with your collection of selvedges. Be sure to let me know how it goes! Linda

Note: Measurements for the finished block size was updated September 20, 2021. 


Bambi Pearson said...

Love this tutorial and your quilt! I will definitely try this method. Have a wonderful day!

Nancy said...

What a fresh and fun quilt, Linda! Plus an excellent tutorial. It's certainly the perfect "no waste" quilt and I'm impressed that you have so many years' worth of selvages! Were you seeing color dots by the time you were done with sorting all these? Fun.

grammajudyb said...

Thanks a bunch for this tutorial! Now to get out the selvages/selvedges!

Betty C said...

Some more of your cool talent. Thanks for sharing.

Debbie B said...

Thanks for taking the time to give us this tutorial. Very well done. And I love the quilt. So cherry!

Anne / Springleaf Studios said...

Your use of selvages for this quilt as well as the other things you've made (skirt?) are so lovely. I have saved them but not with enough fabric to make them useful.

Quilting Babcia said...

The hand quilting is the icing on the cake! Great quilt! I've never been able to convince myself to leave "good" fabric along with the actual selvedge when I cut, so our selvedges are used for tomato ties in each year's garden. Would never be able to accumulate enough tqo make a quilt, though pot holders or mug rugs are a possibility. Lots of great ideas here, thanks for sharing the tutorial.

FlourishingPalms said...

Thank you! I'm glad you like the tutorial, and will try making a selvedge block. I hope you have fun with it!

FlourishingPalms said...

Thank you, Debbie, and you're welcome! I appreciate your compliments. I love the quilt too. "Cherry." Yes, it is! :-)

Jenny said...

THanks Linda for this tutorial. I'll print it off and ponder for a while. Its a great pattern/

Susie Q said...

The tutorial seems very detailed. I think the hardest part of this would be saving the selvages. Sure would be a great memory quit.

JC in TX said...

Yeah!!! Thank you for doing this tutorial so quickly for us!! I’m recovering from wrist surgery but now I can pull out my overload of selvages and at least start with sorting & pressing. WooHoo!

Farm Quilter said...

Thank you for the tutorial for the block/quilt AND the binding!! How hard is it to not cut the corner of the quilt/binding when trimming it?? I have always trimmed my quilts and then put the binding on, but this old dog wants to learn a new trick!!! I have a huge tub of selvages that I want to use!!

Deb said...

Excellent tutorial. Thanks.

Susan said...

I really admire you for saving and sewing with selvedges Linda! I have enough trouble taming the rest of my scraps and stash!

KaHolly said...

Wonderful tute! Looks so easy to follow. I know it’s a lot of work to put one together and it’s sew appreciated. I love the hand stitching! Completes it to perfection! Now it will be more fun to see my selvedge collection grow!

la tulipe said...

Thank you for your tutorial. I love your quilt, how you played with selvages and your quilting!

Rosemary B❤️ said...

this is button cute. Sweeeeeet Linda, for sharing your expertise and inthusiasm

Rosemary B❤️ said...

*snick* enthusiasm

FlourishingPalms said...

It's very easy to NOT cut the corner binding when trimming because, if you've followed all the steps, the binding is still "behind" the quilt (on the quilt front). There's no bit of the binding "sticking out." The binding is turned after you've nipped it. I hope this is helpful, and that you find the tutorial useful. I'd love to see what you create!

Genevieve Gerrard said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I love selvedge quilts, will have to actually do something with the bits I have been hoarding soon.

FlourishingPalms said...

JC, you're a "no-reply commenter" and I don't see your email address in your profile, so I am unable to respond to you personally. But... thank you for your apparent enthusiasm for working with selvedges! :-) I'm glad you can start playing, in spite of recent surgery, and will make use of the tutorial. Please let me know how it goes for you! (And be sure to share with me how to reply to you personally.)

Oops-Lah said...

Wow, what an interesting quilt with all those selvages you've saved for all those years. It must have been like going down memory lane working with all the different pieces of fabrics you've used in your quilts. This quilt must be very heavy with all those seams. You've done a stellar job not only with the quilt but also with the tutorial. I started at one point to put my selvages aside, but then decided to stop as I need to make a dent in my stash before I start playing with "leftovers". I'm sure you know what I mean ;)!

FlourishingPalms said...

Hi Genevieve! I'd reply to you, but you're a "no-reply commenter," and you don't have an email address associated with your Blogger profile. Sorry I can't respond in person. But, you're welcome for the tutorial! I'm glad you already enjoy working with selvedges, and hope that you'll give a few of these blocks a try. I really enjoyed reducing my selvedges stash making this quilt.

Terry said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful quilt and how to make it. I've been looking for a good pattern to use up my selvedges but haven't seen one til now! I'm going to give this a try

FlourishingPalms said...

Hi Terry! I sure appreciate your comment, and "you're welcome!" I'm delighted that this may be the pattern you've been looking for! Please let me know how it goes for you, and if you have any questions. By the way, you're a "no-reply commenter" too... like so many others (see above). I hope you read this and will at least add your email address to your Blogger profile, so people like me can find it and reply to you personally. Though I will say that if you're a Yahoo email user, I will NOT see your comments in my email inbox. Only NON-YAHOO email accounts are recognized by Blogger. (This was a policy made by Blogger more than 10 years ago.)

Gemini Jen NZ said...

I ADORE this quilt! Super cool way to use even more leftovers (must start cutting my selvedges a little wider!) and this great tutorial is totally being pinned to my to-do-one-day-soon list! Thanks for taking the time to make the tutorial and thanks for sharing it!

Preeti said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KY Quilter said...

Beautiful, haven't saved my selvedges in the past but will begin - would love to make this quilt some day. Thanks for sharing the quilt and pattern!!

FlourishingPalms said...

Thanks for your compliments! I'm glad I've inspired you to save selvedges. Actually, I save BOTH selvedge sides - the printed side for making things like this quilt, pillows, and even a skirt - and the unprinted side that I use for peg loom weaving. I'm glad you like this quilt, and hope you use the pattern. (I am replying to you here because your Google profile is set to "no-reply commenter." That setting can be changed, if you wish.) I hope you read this reply!

Hail Lawyers said...

Great basics! I’m going to give this tutorial out to the people that are beginners I come in contact with. Nice job.

Quilter54 said...

Thanks for great tutorial; I was looking for something unique to to do with those colourful selvages.I have a question. I have made the 5 x9 1/4’’ blocks, and when joining the 5’’ square with 1/4’’ seams, you have a 9 1/2’’ length, which is 1/4’’ short of the 9 1/4’’ selvage block you will be adding. Did I miss something? Thanks so much.

FlourishingPalms said...

Hi! I'm sorry that you're a "noreply-commenter," so I am unable to reply to your questions via email. I hope you see this!

I double-checked the math, and what I have written in the tutorial is correct. Join a 5" square (4-1/2" finished) to the end of a 9-1/4" length of selvage. 4-1/2" X 2 = 9" and the remaining 1/4" is along the exterior edge of the pieced block... ready to be added to an adjoining block. I hope this helps.

If you want me to answer any more questions, you'll need to provide your email address. Thank you!

Quilter54 said...

Thanks for prompt response- Would you mind responding to me with a ‘test’ email at and I could provide a photo of my issue? I sincerely appreciate your help with this!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is still a viable posting or not. I have loved your quilt for several years, and finally had enough selvages to make it. Your tutorial is excellent, and I had no problems at all thank you for a wonderful project!
I would enjoy sharing my quilt with you, but can not see a way of doing that with this link. Again many thanx

Ginny said...

I had the same issue as Quilter54. The white outside edge blocks are cut at 9 1/2 x 5" so the selvage blocks should be 91/2 also. I had already trimmed them to 9 1/4" x 5" so had to trim the 5" blocks to 4 1/2" to make it fit. I do love the pattern

FlourishingPalms said...

Please note that I have updated the tutorial to correct an error. The finished selvedges rectangle block should be 5" X 9-1/2" (not 5" X 9-1/4"). Thank you for letting me know! Linda

Ginny said...

Thanks for your reply. I loved the idea of taping the templates to the ruler, best idea!


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