A selvedge is a piece of cloth that is self-finishing, and therefore does not fray. The selvedge is created as a by-product of the weaving process, and is often discarded, as the weave pattern is different to the main body of the fabric.
Russian peasants often wore plaited shoes made out of bast, a fibre produced from the bark of linden or birch trees. Wearing such shoes, which were known as lapti, was a sign of extreme poverty. The word came to be used as a derogatory term for poor, uneducated people, who could not afford proper shoes.