Salvage vs selvage or selvedge

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Salvage and selvage or selvedge are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of salvage and selvage or selvedge, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Salvage means to save something that is damaged. The damage may come from fire, flood, hail damage, theft or collision. When damages are sustained that make restoration of the property impossible, owners salvage pieces that have not been destroyed. Shipwreck salvage are goods that may be recovered from the site. A vehicle that has been in a wreck and is not repairable is taken to the salvage yard. Here, the salvage dealer or junk dealer sells vehicle parts from wrecked or salvage vehicles. A stolen and then abandoned auto is a problem. Often, it costs too much to repair it and make it suitable to be back on the road. The insurance company will then sell it for parts. The word salvage may be used as a transitive verb which is a verb that takes an object, or as a mass noun, which is a noun that does not have a plural form. Related words are salvages, salvaged, salvaging, salvageable. The word salvage is derived from the Old French word salver, meaning to save.

The selvage or selvedge is the end of woven fabric that is finished in a way that keeps the fabric from unraveling. Normally, the selvage or selvedge of fabric is not a consideration in the construction of a garment. However, blue jeans are a type of garment in which the presence of the selvage or selvedge is a large factor in the price of the garment. Jeans were invented in the 1870s by Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss. Levi Jeans or Levis are still popular today. The use of denim, a substantial twill fabric, and rivets at points of stress in the construction were patented in 1873. The material that blue jeans were made from was originally produced on fabric that was 32 inches wide, woven on cone looms. In order to use every bit of the fabric, the selvage or selvedge was included in the design. Over time, the production of denim fabric was moved to different machines that produced fabric that was 60 inches wide, and the selvage or selvedge was no longer included in cutting out pattern pieces for jeans. Cone mills, which produced selvage denim or selvedge denim have closed all over the United States. A movement to bring back selvedge or selvage denim and selvage or selvedge denim jeans resulted in the production of Japanese denim, inspired by the original American denim. Today, selvedge jeans or selvage jeans are more expensive. Selvedge denim or selvage denim may be used in other tailored garments, such as a denim jacket, a denim shirt, skirt, vest, blazers or overalls. Beyond the classic Levis 501 jeans, other styles of jeans include slim jeans, straight jeans and boot cut jeans. Jeans are traditionally dyed with indigo, which will fade over time. Dry denim jeans or raw denim jeans are not prewashed, as they are made to become distressed as the consumer wears them, and through repeated washing. Selvage is the American spelling of the word, and selvedge is the British spelling. The word is a corruption of the words self edge.


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is visiting China on a four day-trip, seeking to boost relations with Beijing as he tries to salvage the South American country’s hyperinflation ravaged economy. (The South China Morning Post)

Since Addario and Leo found the wreck, they have fought with the state for its ownership, haggled with county officials over a proposed beach renourishment project that threatens to cover it with sand and broke a partnership with an international deep-sea salvage firm in a feud over control of the recovery project. (The Palm Beach Daily News)

In October of last year, the last and most famous selvedge denim mill in the U.S. closed. (GQ Magazine)

What he saw there, he said in an interview, was denim done the right way — not mass-produced on modern looms (although the plant has plenty of those too), but painstakingly made on clanking 1940s American Draper X3 shuttle looms that churn out denim featuring a tighter weave, more interesting textures and of course, the de rigueur selvage stitching on the inside seam that jeans lovers proudly reveal by rolling their cuffs. (The New York Times)