More than two years ago, I was given two large plastic food canisters filled to the top with the selvages cut off the ends of fabric. I had mentioned I was into making selvage quilts and my friend Vicki decided to save them for me. When I cut selvages to make a quilt, I always leave at least 1" of printed fabric beyond the selvages. Many of the pieces that were gifted to me were basically only the white selvages themselves with little to no colored fabric included. Being the fabric hoarder that I am (like many quilters), I put them aside to figure out what I was going to do with them at a future date.
This past week was that future date. I was cleaning the sewing studio and found the plastic containers jammed packed with selvages. I pulled them out and the great idea lightbulb went on over my head. I sat and sorted them into white and off white selvages and separated those from the other colors. I put them next to my favorite evening space along with some cotton clothesline and glue sticks. I was going to wrap a couple of hanks of clothesline up and make baskets to see how the selvages would look. Here is what the first wrap looked like before sewing.
Before I was halfway through the first 50 feet of clothesline, I could tell I was on to something new and unique. The printing registration circles, numbers and colors were really pretty offsetting the bland whites and off white. The printed words on the selvages themselves created their own random patterns. Those printed details come in all types of fonts and colors. I made sure I used many different types. Often there are printed symbols and shapes in these often discarded fabric edges, and these can be seen in the finished wrap and basket if you look closely. They almost resemble hidden hieroglyphs like those used by the ancient Egyptians.
In some cases, the inner edge of the fabric has a small 1/8" or so of fabric that contrasts nicely with the rest of the selvages. When wrapped tightly and consistently, these will create diagonal stripes that run through the basket. My BFF Martha, said they look to have a special morse code visible to the naked eye.
I was concerned that the tightly woven selvage edges might prove to be difficult to sew on my home machine, but a clean, freshly oiled and well tuned Bernina is up for the task with a sharp new #90 needle. I decided white cotton thread would be my best choice to construct the baskets. It was the right choice to blend with the myriad of colors found in the selvages I used.
The first basket I created was a basic round shape with a nice round medallion on the front. I found a really cool key and newspaper feather pendant which I attached after sewing the basket. I love the way it turned out.
The next few I made from selvages were oval shaped baskets. The first one is from dark color selvage edges and the second one is light colored selvage edges. I especially love the fun little apple tree embellishment on the first one.
It had been awhile since I created a square shaped basket. I decided I wanted to try to make a circle in a square basket from selvages. When I was done with it, I knew I had the perfect glass embellishment for it.
One of the wraps I created this week was a 100 feet in length. It makes a really big basket and this is what it ended up looking like when sewn. I decided to try and create the scalloped edges for something different and I think it's a pretty cool look. The scallops are very time consuming to sew. It's hard to ensure they are similar in size, pointing in the right direction and he coils are joined at the right places and secure. But I think they are well worth the extra effort, don't you?
I especially love the idea of up cycling something that would normally be tossed out. It's also really fun to figure out which little embellishments will work to enhance the front of the basket. While I think they are interesting and beautiful without embellishments, I like to add them as my own little artistic signature. No two baskets are ever exactly the same and it's another reason I think people are fascinated by them and want to pick them up and touch them. They are also very useful decorator items, help to keep my crafting and sewing/quilting supplies organized and they make a great hostess gift when I visits.
Here are a few more that I made this last week or so.
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