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Selvedges in Woven Fabrics

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Selvedges, often spelled as “selvages,” refer to the finished edges of woven fabrics. These edges are an integral part of the fabric structure and serve several important purposes in the weaving process and the final textile product.


Selvedge is special hooked needle driven by a cam which produces, after cutting, the insertion of the protruding thread end into the subsequent shed, thus forming a stronger edge. The basic function of any selvedge is to lock the outside warp threads of a piece of cloth and so prevent fraying. The selvedge should be strong enough to withstand the strains of the center in the finishing process. The selvedge should have a neat and uniform appearance.

Type of Selvedges


Selvedges WeavingSelvedges MechanismA special hooked needle driven by a cam produces, after cutting, the insertion of the protruding thread end into the subsequent shed, thus forming a stronger edge.

This system is generally used for light to middleweight fabrics when weave and fabric density permit. There are also available tuck-in selvedge motions which are entirely controlled by pneumatic or mixed pneumatic and mechanical devices.

Leno selvedges

Leno Selvedges WeavingLeno Selvedges MechnismThese selvedges are obtained by binding the wefts with strong additional threads working in gauze weave and by eliminating through cutting the protruding weft ends.

The leno gauze system is optimally suited for heavy fabrics, blankets, wall coverings. Fig. 116 illustrates the operation scheme of the device proposed by a manufacturer, in which device two complete leno gauze mechanisms work in combination. A leno device produces the fabric selvedge, while the other device forms the auxiliary selvedge.

Fused selvedges

These are obtained by pressing a hot mechanical element on the fabric edge; this method can be applied to fabrics in man-made fibers.

Definition and Purpose

  • Definition: Selvedges are the narrow, self-finished edges of a woven fabric that run parallel to the warp (longitudinal) direction. They are created during the weaving process and differ from the rest of the fabric in terms of appearance and texture.
  • Purpose: Selvedges serve multiple essential functions:
    • Preventing Fraying: The primary purpose of selvedges is to prevent the edges of the fabric from fraying or unraveling during and after the weaving process. Without selvedges, the warp yarns at the fabric’s edges would be prone to unraveling, causing quality issues and making the fabric less durable.
    • Facilitating Handling: Selvedges provide a stable and structured edge to the fabric, making it easier to handle during weaving, dyeing, finishing, and cutting processes. They help maintain the fabric’s integrity and prevent damage.
    • Guiding the Weft: Selvedges help guide the weft yarn smoothly across the fabric’s width during weaving, ensuring even and consistent weaving across the entire width of the fabric. This prevents irregularities and defects in the finished fabric.
    • Identifying the Fabric Orientation: Selvedges often contain information about the fabric, such as brand labels, care instructions, and design patterns. They also indicate the orientation of the fabric, helping manufacturers and consumers determine the warp direction.

Selvedge Types

Selvedges can take different forms, depending on the weaving method and intended use of the fabric. Some common types of selvedges include:

  • Plain Selvedge: In a plain selvedge, the outermost warp yarns are woven in a simple plain weave, creating a dense and stable edge. Plain selvedges are common in many types of fabrics.
  • Tape Selvedge: Tape selvedges are created by weaving a narrow, flat tape or ribbon of fabric along the edge. They are often used in upholstery fabrics and heavy textiles.
  • Leno Selvedge: Leno selvedges are produced by twisting pairs of adjacent warp yarns together in a figure-eight pattern. This technique creates a more open and decorative edge, suitable for lightweight and delicate fabrics.
  • Fringed Selvedge: Fringed selvedges intentionally leave warp yarns unbound, creating a fringe-like edge. This type of selvedge is often seen in decorative and artisanal textiles.

Selvedge Quality

The quality of selvedges is critical to the overall quality of the fabric. A well-made selvedge should be:

  • Durable: Selvedges should resist fraying and remain intact during handling, cutting, and sewing.
  • Smooth: Smooth selvedges ensure even weft insertion and prevent snags or irregularities in the fabric.
  • Uniform: Consistency in selvedge appearance is essential for a polished final product.

Selvedges in Design

Selvedges can be incorporated into the design of the fabric, particularly in textiles where the selvedge is an integral part of the overall aesthetic. Designers may use colored or patterned selvedges to create a distinct look or incorporate the selvedge into the final product, such as using it as a decorative trim.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite their benefits, selvedges can pose challenges, such as limited fabric width due to the selvage area. To address this, some fabric manufacturers have developed methods to minimize the width of selvedges while maintaining their protective and guiding functions.

In conclusion, selvedges are an essential and often overlooked aspect of woven fabrics. They play a crucial role in preserving the integrity of the fabric, guiding the weaving process, and providing essential information. While they may vary in appearance and structure, selvedges are a testament to the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the textile industry. Whether plain, decorative, or functional, selvedges are a fundamental component of woven fabrics that contribute to their durability, usability, and overall quality.

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