Last spring I discovered (on Instagram) that my friend Diane was using her selvage collection to make string blocks. She asked if anyone wanted to participate in a selvage block-along. I probably had a ton of other sewing to do, but I also had a selvage drawer full to bursting and it seemed like a good idea to just get busy and make something substantial with all of those pretty selvages.
I know myself. I know that true 'random' doesn't work for me. I will always try to group colours or patterns, or match prints even if I'm not trying. So I decided to forego the random string idea right from the start and instead organized all of my selvages into piles of colour. They almost completely covered my little sewing room floor! Then I designed an easy 10 1/2" Selvage Colourblock (tutorial here) that would keep my inner organizer happy.
Four of these squares pieced together give you a lovely diamond of solid colour in the middle, surrounded by related selvages in a 20" block! I chose my longest selvages for the very first strings next to the solid triangles so that they'd have a nice frame around them to start. And then I went CRAZY RANDOM....within the same colour grouping, of course.
These blocks came together really, really fast. I had an absolute ball making them and I so enjoyed using the selvages that I'd been diligently saving for four years. When this quilt top was complete, B said "Cool!......Wait, is that all from your own fabric?!". I think you know my answer. The only colour that I had to raid my stash to cut more selvage off was purple.
I used yard-dyed Essex for my black & white block centre and I love how it looks! I wasn't sure how to fit black into the rainbow, so I ended up putting it smack in the middle of the quilt.
Once all of my 10 1/2" blocks were made I got kind of excited and pulled all of the newsprint foundations off. In retrospect, this wasn't such a great idea. All of those selvage edges cut at 45 degrees are the worst kind of stretchy! Now I was in a pickle. I had to figure out a way to stabilize the blocks and piece them together while keeping the quilt square. In the end, a skinny white sashing was my solution and I used the BigHugeLabs mosaic tool to help confirm my decision.
In the final layout, the 1" sashing borders every 10" block
I was seriously loving this quilt (and there was still quite a bit of selvage on my floor), so I decided to keep going and add a border to enlarge it. The border is colour-blocked, too! I pieced selvage strings into 4 1/2" wide strips of newsprint and planned the border colours to coincide with the outside blocks of the quilt top. The quilt ended up about 75" square. It's quilted with a wool batting (a first for me - I like the puffiness!). I stitched the ditch around each block to stabilize, then stippled with matching coloured thread over the selvages. The border is quilted with a figure 8 pattern. This quilting may have required a rather extravagant custom Aurifil thread box purchase. As you might expect by now, the binding was also pieced to match the colour-blocking.
I'm so happy that I saved my selvages so that I have this beautiful memory quilt of all my favourite fabrics. Once this quilt was done, I cleaned up my remaining selvage strings, stuffed them in a big plastic bag and gave them to a friend. I won't be making another selvage quilt and it isn't because this wasn't a ton of fun, it's just that I don't feel like saving and storing selvages anymore. I'm on to the next thing!
Here's Selvage Colour Block hanging at my traditional guild's show last June. The entire summer and fall got away from me and I still have not succeeded in a proper outdoor photoshoot for this quilt!
Thanks for getting through this super long quilt story. If you've still got any tea left in your cup, go and check out the other festival entries here!