Selvedges

Ask Madelyn

Dear Madelyn,

Is there any information available for alternative finishes to selvedges on handwoven textiles? I have seen handwoven scarves for sale locally that seem to have the selvedges cut off, to leave a neat ‘raw’ edge. (Presumably it is stitched in some way to prevent fraying). This finish looks really neat. I know that neat selvedges are the mark of an accomplished weaver, but as a beginner weaver ( OK, I’ve been a ‘beginner weaver’ for at least ten years now!), it would be nice to have some good ways to tidy up fabrics that turn out really well, but are let down by a sloppy selvedge.

I’m weaving a fairly fine linen table runner. I use double floating selvedges, I usually double the number of ends in the last two or three dents at each edge, but in this case the ends were too close to beat the weft picks into, so I had to resley at the normal density.

I’d appreciate any ideas!

––Clare Shaw (Lancashire, England)

Hi Clare!

Selvedges are always a concern to weavers, even though most non-weavers would never notice what we consider to be terrible flaws. So, here are my thoughts. You are right to use a temple on linen—and you have chosen a good type of temple (not a rug temple).

 For this piece, I would:

  1. Thread the white stripe at the edge slightly wider than the stripes in the body of the piece so that a little draw-in keeps them the same size as the others.
  2. Not double the floating selvedges (they will only look thicker)
  3. Not double the density at the edge— (the edge will look thicker)
  4. Make sure that the weft turns snugly against the floating selvedge but that it forms a generous angle in the shed (30 degrees or thereabouts)
  5. Beat on a closed shed in which the weft angle has been secured (if you beat on an open shed, you may pull the weft flat in the process).

You could, of course, hem the edge or cut the selvedges off or do any of a number of treatments as a cover-up, but that shouldn’t be necessary. (If you cut the selvedges off, you’d have to secure the raw edge some way.)

Hope this helps.

––Madelyn

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