Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Praise of Selvages

A selvage, the "self-finished edge" of a fabric, more often than not,
has no writing on it... at least when it comes to vintage fabric. 

Contemporary fabrics such as the two above (about 10 years old), often
list the maker, or the copyright and the collection or the pattern name. 

Vintage selvages sometimes tell us something about the fabric
just as this 60-80 year old cotton tells us it never "misbehaves."

 Some old selvages from the 50s use quaint words like "shrunketized."

 Other old selvages give us leads where to look for more information...

 ...or give us the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

 Some selvages tell us the kitchy names certain fabrics used to have...

But the point of this post and the campaign I would like to start is for all selvages to contain a DATE!!!  Why is that so hard?  It would certainly help us vintage fabric collectors.  I mean, I have fabric history books, I worked in fabric stores, I know when certain fabric widths and fibers were manufactured, I studied Interior Design and can tell one design era from the next - some better than others... but I still need help.  For example, this earth tone geometric above?  It was screaming mid-70s.

But without the selvage on this Klopman fabric, I would never have been sure it was 1965 or 2005.  Really.  Maybe I need to study more... but wouldn't it just have been easier for ALL fabric mills to include the date of manufacture?  

Is that too much to ask?  
Is it just me?  
Does anybody else really care?


  1. shrunketized:
    What happens to my jeans if i leave them in the dryer more than 20 minutes :-)

  2. Great post... and it is NOT just you.
    Dates on selvages would make my job soooo much easier!
    Most of my quilt-weights are 1950's or earlier, so they're 36" or less. But I've been finding more fabrics from the 70's lately, and with all the flower power reproductions out now, selvage dates would greatly cut down on the time spent researching.

    If manufactures would start doing that now, at least the future vintage fabric people will have an easier go of it.

    Kimberly :-)


Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet-
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

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