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Tip: Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern

I’m taking part (albeit quite late to the party) in the McCalls Pattern Shirtdress Sew-Along. I’m making Kwik Sew 4155, from a lovely lightweight shirting from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). After pre-washing my fabric, I saw that it was puckery along the selvages. That’s not at all unusual with woven fabrics. Because of the finishing of the fabric at the edges (to keep it from unraveling), the tension on the selvage threads is higher, which can cause some puckering:

Puckered edges before clipping

Well, at a sit and sew with the wonderful couture teacher Susan Khalje, I learned a little trick to release that tension.

Simply make small cuts along the selvages. These cuts are about 1/4 inch deep in the case of this fabric, and spaced about every 2-3 inches. I did make a cut right at a pucker if it seemed pretty tight. I cut on a diagonal, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you cut perpendicular to the selvage. The picture below shows what it looks like after snipping, and I didn’t press it or otherwise flatten it out, so you can see what a difference it makes.

It only takes a few seconds to do, and it will make sure your fabric lays flat so you get an accurate cut close to the selvage.

Same section after clipping. Much better!

This is closely related to the tip I wrote a while back on Trimming Your Knit Selvages. Same principle, and it will make your life a lot easier.

Shameless Plug Time: Speaking of Susan Khalje, if you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, do it! Susan is a delightful person, a wonderful teacher and, as a professor at FIT said, “She sews a mean stitch.” One of my bucket list items is to go on her Paris Tour. I can’t do it this year because of a very big (!) family commitment at the end of the year, but hopefully soon! Full disclosure: Susan is a dear friend of mine, but she is one of the BEST sewing teachers out there, bar none.

HTH and happy sewing!

7 thoughts on “Tip: Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern”

  1. Dorothy Sabourin says:

    I agree 100% with your words about Susan Khalje – she is wonderful! I spent a week with her in Baltimore, a 4-day sit and sew with Kenneth King in NYC, and yet another class with her at your facility, where I started my daughter’s wedding gown. She is an expert teacher, patient and warm. Do try to spend time with her if you can.

  2. Liz says:

    Thanks for noting this! I HAVE wondered what to do about the puckering on the edges of the fabric!

  3. Lisa Laree says:

    I’ve slashed puckered edges on wovens and knits…felt kinda unorthodox and wasteful doing it, but I couldn’t get the fabric to lay flat any other way.

    I don’t feel so crazy now. 😀

  4. Sid says:

    Great tip! Thank you.

  5. I’ve clipped selvedges for years (decades!) to eliminate puckering!

  6. JustGail says:

    Oh, to be able to spend time with Susan Kahlje! And a few other sewing gurus….

    I used the tip about removing the selvage on knits a while back – it was a sanity saver! It will be something to check on all fabrics I lay out from now on.

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