TUTORIAL - Selvage Heart on a String

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sometimes I'm moved by JOY to create something and then by more JOY to share it! 
{and sometimes technology and vacations slooooow down the process!}

Today I'm sharing a tutorial to use selvages - and a little fabric - to create this fun heart block.
The block finishes at 9 x 12.

The block came about while I was playing with ways to make the next borders for my Roosting Robin Rainbow quilt. You can read about it here.

I hesitated to write this tutorial because it's tricky to give exact fabric requirements for selvages.
I have a LOT - but you don't need a lot to make this block. I've done my best to give you measurements for each section of the block, but it's always a good thing to have a few extra pieces around just in case!

This project did give me an opportunity to sort through my selvages and take out all the ones with no white strips. These ones have the same colour as the fabric in the selvage and none of the fun colourful dots! I seem to have enough of these for a whole DIFFERENT kind of project;)

My selvages are cut at 1 inch wide and this is the width I would recommend for these blocks. Smaller and it will be a lot of finicky sewing without much selvage to show for it! Bigger and the "look" of using selvages will be lost in your finished block.

And since I seem to be getting into a great amount of detail before I even get to the tutorial (ahem, sorry about that!) I might as well mention the fuzzy selvages. These are the ones where the edge isn't finished and they are, well, fuzzy. Or fluffy. Your choice. It's also your choice whether or not to use them in your heart block. The fuzzies do add some dimension to your block but they can also distract the eye and take away from the geometric visual image you are going for with this block. I chose not to this time. (So of course I have a bunch of THESE set aside too!)

Okay, so I think we're ready to begin!


You will require foundation pieces cut to sizes indicated in photo: it will stay attached to your final block. I use stretchy cotton/polyester (I think). I'm not worried about it - I use it all the time. The massive amount of stitching through it keeps it flat. You can use cotton from your stash that is sitting around waiting for a job ;)

The string part of the heart is made up of cotton. You will need a piece 4 inches by 10 inches to make the heart and cut to the sizes in the photo.  Notice the fabric will be sewn on an angle - keep this in mind with the fabric you pick. I love the dots!  A cute novelty print with small images (1/4 inch) would work really well too.


Next you need to get into those selvages!
I like to start working on the two bigger 6 1/2 inch blocks first - that way I use the longest selvages first and can use the off cuts for the smaller blocks if I want to.

If you look closely at the photo you can see that the selvages will start from both sides of the cotton string. And you will see this part is the fun, messy middle part! I cut my selvages a little bit longer than the foundation, but not much. I've tried to help you with lengths in the photos below:)

 Here's a photo of one half of the block above: I wrote down the measurements for each selvage bit.

Here's a photo of the bottom half. You can see that the amount of selvages is going to depend a little bit on if they are cut 1 inch or 1 1/4 inches. Five fat quarters worth of selvage will do for the 2 bottom blocks. And 3 more fat quarters worth of selvage would give you enough for the top blocks. So, if you've kept selvages from a fat quarter bundle, or a twin quilt, you probably have enough:)

I cut the selvages for my second 6 1/2 inch block now too. Again I put the measurements here, but don't worry if yours aren't the same as mine. I don't expect them to be! I just wanted to show you that length varies:)

I leave cutting selvages at this point and sew the two large blocks.
(too many cut selvages makes a very CONFUSING mess!)

For the selvage heart I chose to use thread that matched the colour of my string - or close anyway:)

Then I transfer my selvages in order, without the foundation or string, onto my little flannel board onto my sewing table.  I moved the other set of selvages over too. I like to chain stitch and this way I can work on both blocks at once - which can be tricky!


I made a little video for this next part showing how I set up my machine and get ready to sew.

The key to sewing these blocks is to sew from both sides of the string: I sew a selvage down one side and then the next time through the machine I add to the opposite side. You can see here in the photo my very narrow seam allowance - that's so I get a lot of the selvage underneath showing and still have them sewn one on top of the other.

Keep sewing on each side of the block until both of the 6 1/2 inch foundations are covered. You might find you need to add another little piece of selvage to cover the final corner.


I love my 6 1/2 inch ruler for fussy cutting and for trimming. The arrows in the photo show that you can trim 2 sides of the block before you turn it to trim again.

Then trim the second 6 1/2 inch block.

Yay! You're more than half done:)
I don't sew these together yet - but you could!
You can choose which block you want on which side - just make sure your string makes a "V".


Now it's time to make the four smaller blocks which will form the top part of the heart.
Go back to your selvages and start cutting!

Here's all four of my little blocks ready to sew!


Sew the four blocks and trim them each to 3 1/2 inch square.
Lay them out with your bottom blocks into an arrangement that pleases you.
Remember to have your strings going in the right direction.


Sew the top  3 1/2 inch blocks together as two units using 1/4 inch seam allowance.
You can press the seams to either side.
Then sew these two together: again press seam to either side.

Sew the bottom  6 1/2 inch blocks together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
For this pair, press the seam open.

Use pins to make sure your middle top seam is lined up with the bottom block seam.

Sew units together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Press this final seam open too.

Block complete!

ENJOY and please SHARE with me photos of your finished block!
Leave them in the comments or share them with me on Instagram #selvageheart - thanks:)

Linking up with The Needle and Thread Network WIP Wednesday
With Joy,
Sarah V.


Sarah Vanderburgh July 29, 2015 at 2:26 PM  
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Sarah Vanderburgh July 29, 2015 at 2:38 PM  
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This blog exists to share my quiltmaking and joy of colour to inspire others to find their joy.

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