Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sewing a tunic from fabric handwoven on a vintage Structo Loom

If you are afraid to cut your handwoven fabrics so you can sew them into garments, DON’T BE!!

Raise up those scissors, and start cutting!  I’ve been snipping and sewing some fun new clothes.

In my last post, (link) I talked about weaving my husband, Jim, a shirt to wear while he performs with his Jazz Trio.

And, here he is, wearing his spiffy, and most importantly: COMFORTABLE  😀 shirt, while playing at the Edmonton International Jazz Festival with his trio:

Jim playing at the Jazz Festival 2011

When I was weaving the fabric for his shirt, I also decided to weave fabric for a tunic for me. I blogged about weaving up heaps of fabric here: Link

I have a favorite dress or tunic pattern that I decided to sew from my handwoven fabrics. It’s Simplicity 2702

I decided that I would weave the fabric for it on my Structo looms.

They are vintage 4 harness looms that weave a fabric that comes off the loom at 8 inches wide. The fabric does shrink, so it’s usually about 7 inches wide after it’s been washed and steam pressed. The reeds are 15 epi.

I used cotton and mixed fibres from my stash to weave up lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng lengths of fabric.

I put on a rather too long warp onto one of the Structos, and ended up having to release some of the fabric from the cloth beam, as I couldn’t advance it any more. Oops:

handwoven fabric on Structo loom

I was being very playful with the weaving, as I am in the process of getting to know my ‘new to me’ Structo looms.

I decided that I would have a  freeform, anything goes exploration while weaving. This is a great way to learn about what I like and don’t like about different weave structures on the Structo loom. I wanted to get to know the Structo loom and this has been a fun way to get acquainted!

I also wanted to push the boundaries to see what would happen when I experimented with all kinds of combinations of patterns, while sticking to a single group of colors- although I did end up throwing in a little pink and green. 🙂

I really like weaving pockets on potholder looms, as I like having all 4 sides with clean edges, and not having to turn seam allowances under.

I am just getting to know my ‘Lil Weaver’ square looms from Donna and Gary McFarland at Dewberry Ridge Looms, so I decided to weave the pockets on a 7 inch Lil Weaver.  It worked great 🙂 The flash makes it look a lot more open than it really is, and of course, when I washed it, it closed up very nicely.

weaving a pocket on a Lil Weaver square loom

I added a little of the  trim that I wove for Jim’s shirt to the top of the pocket, and that’s just perfect.

Cutting into narrow bands to piece them together is not at all intimidating- although I got the jitters at how wild the fabric was looking when I laid it all out. I fussed a bit about it on facebook and got lots of encouragement from my friends to go ahead and just make the tunic. They told me to be brave and not worry and that it would be fine.

cutting out and piecing handwoven fabric

I really didn’t want to have people raise their eyebrow, and wonder if I had lost my senses!

But, with the encouragement of friends, I went, what the heck! This is a celebration dress, why not celebrate?

And then, I remembered the BEST thing my father ever said to me. Once, when I was wondering if I should combine some wild fabrics and held them up to him and asked if he thought that they were just too wild and crazy, he rubbed his chin thoughtfully, and said:

“Just wear it with panache!”

Isn’t that the best thing you could imagine? It’s become a mantra for me.

So, I carried on, piecing the sections of the tunic together:

piecing handwoven fabrics to sew a tunic

I really didn’t like the first placket section, so I nipped off to the dining room, and snitched 2 placemats that I had woven a couple of years ago. I cut them up, and love the new placket.

The fabric sewed up beautifully.

I quite like using narrow strips of fabric to piece together for garments.

Why?

Well, it is much less intimidating to cut a narrow piece than to cut into a wide piece. Snipping a narrow piece feels so much less threatening because the fear of loosing hours of weaving work is so much less.

Also, narrow bands allow you to experiment and explore, and then to put the pieces together any way you want- it’s a lot like quilting.

tunic sewn from handwoven fabric - front

The tunic came together really nicely. It was important to me to add in some fabric and bands that were left over from weaving Jim’s shirt. I am really happy with the way they blend into the tunic just perfectly.

Here’s Patient Zillah, standing beside one of the Structo looms that I used to weave the fabric for the tunic.

and here’s the back view:

tunic sewn from handwoven fabric - back

I had a serious- Oh oh… moment, when I remembered that I had pieced and stitched the tunic to last summer’s measurements, and I have put on weight on this winter.

I thought…. oh no! What if it doesn’t fit? 

Well, luckily, it does, but it’ll look a whole lot better when I loose that unwelcome weight!

Sewing with handwoven fabric is really rewarding, but it is slower than sewing commercial fabrics.

But, it’s a mindful, contemplative,wonderful journey!

Here are a few tips for sewing with handwoven fabrics:

1] Pins are your friends. Use a LOT of them. And, then, use some more.

2] Stay stitching, overcasting, basting and  top stitching are all your friends. Do a LOT of all of them when sewing handwoven fabrics.

3] If your pattern tells you to clip to a pivot point, it can be scary, but do it. BUT, make sure that you have done several rows of stay stitching to secure your threads. And, don’t be afraid to go back and sneak a little more stitching in to secure it.

4] Interfacing is your friend- and I interfaced the placket sections with iron on interfacing. But, I decided that I wanted the shoulder bands to not be too energetic about standing to attention. I figured that using the   Celtic interlace band to embellish them would add enough structure, and I was right. They sit just nicely where I want them to.

5] Change the needle in your sewing machine frequently. You MUST have a very sharp needle for sewing handwoven fabrics.

6] Bias tape is perfect for hemming. It gives a hem that isn’t bulky, and is probably more secure than a rolled handwoven one.

7] Sew all seams more than once. I like to sew the seam, then fold the seam allowance over and stitch it to the garment.

8] Your steam iron is your friend- (although my steam iron and I had a little contretemps when it spewed brown stuff all over a section of  white fabric. Wailie wailie. But all is well,as stain remover removed the splorches). Steam and press the living daylights out of EVERY seam, after you stitch it, including the zigzagging of any cut edges. My mother, who was a fabulous seamstress in her day, impressed this fact into me, and it makes a world of difference to be steaming and pressing as you sew.

9] Zigzag stitching every cut edge is essential. I use a stitch that is running straight stitches in a zig zag formation.

10] Sew your pattern up in commercial fabric first, so you know how it fits and also, how the pattern goes together. Knowing the pattern is going to give you confidence in working with your handwoven fabrics!

I am feeling very self conscious and uncomfortable about having gotten so hefty, and wasn’t going to put a pic of myself up wearing the new tunic, but, what the heck. Fat happens.   So, like my father said: I’ll just have to wear it with panache!!!! 😀

Jim and me in our handwoven festival clothes

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Filed under Saori weaving, weaving & handwoven

Woven shirt for my husband

Over the 30 plus years that my husband, Jim, and I have been together, I have made him a lot of shirts, vests, jackets, pants, and even a parka. Some of them, he really likes, and wears a lot, and some, well…. not so much, and even though I think that they look great on him, if he isn’t comfortable in it, he won’t wear it.

 

The first piece of fabric for Jim's shirt being woven on an Emila rigid heddle loom

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

So, when I decided to weave a shirt for him to wear at his various festival gigs this summer (he’s a jazz musician), the first and most important criteria was to make it comfortable!  It has to be a style that he likes (he likes ‘traditional’ shirts, not the ethnic styles that I like), and the fabric couldn’t be too wild (ahem, not like something that I would wear- very large grin accompanying this statement).

3rd piece of fabric being woven on Peacock loom for Jim's shirt

Jim’s a very gentle, laid back guy, and kind of shy, so he’s not into wearing stuff that is toooooooooo wild, although he does have a rather spectacular collection of ‘tractor’ shirts that our daughter and I have made for him over the years. (He loves his vintage tractor, and he loves making hay, so we keep our eyes open for fabric that has tractors on it. But, that’s another story.)

So, anyhow, when I decided to weave him a shirt, I had him choose the colors, and I warped up my  Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom.

(I bought it from a friend on Ravelry). I wove a 4 meter length of fabric, and thought that it was toooooo bland.

So I warped up the next panel of 4 meters with a different, more striking arrangement of stripes, and I liked that a lot more.

These 2 pieces shrank from being 18 1/2 inches wide to 16 inches wide and got a 1/2 meter shorter after washing.

At first, I thought that I wasn’t going to use the first bland-ish piece so, I warped up my Peacock 2 harness table loom, and wove a 10 meter long piece of fabric, with the stripes going horizontally, instead of vertically.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

But, when I laid it out, to start cutting it out, I realized that I needed the first chunk of fabric, too.

I had been pleading with Jim to let me puhleeeeeeeeeeeeeze put some embellishment on his shirt, so he said, okay and let me weave up a Celtic interlace for the collar, cuffs, and button band:

Celtic interlace band woven on Vesterheim Museum Cradle Loom with heddle made by Fred Hatton

Last winter, I bought a lovely little heddle from Fred Hatton, and when I was weaving the Celtic interlace band, I couldn’t resist drawing rabbits on it and burning them on. The cradle loom is from the Vesterheim Museum

I had to piece the sleeves, so decided to get decorative with them, too, and wove another pair of bands to embellish the seams:

woven pick up technique on narrow band

Of course, cutting out handwoven fabric is always a touch jittery….

cutting out handwoven fabric for Jim's shirt

I zig zag around each piece to keep it from fraying.

Sewing the shirt together was pure heaven! It went together just beautifully. This is a pattern Simplicity 2741 that I have used a lot, so I am very familiar with it. It’s a quick and easy shirt that looks great.  (and is comfortable 😀 )

Every seam is stitched at least twice, and sometimes more, for stability. I used hem tape on the hem, and there are 6 lines of stitching  alone at the hem. With handwoven fabrics, I tend to ‘oversew’ just for security.

So, tahdah! Here it is:

woven shirt for Jim

Here’s a closer shot of the sleeve:

Jim-jazz-festival-shirt

and the collar:

Jim-jazz-festival-shirt-

Jim-jazz-festival-shirt

Making this shirt for my beloved gave me the opportunity to pour a whole ton of love into a physical object that will wrap him in my love, appreciation and gratitude. Truly, there is love in EVERY stitch!!!!

And, if he finds that it’s not comfie, well then, I’ll wear it! 😀

(But he does say that he likes it, so I hope it will be a pleasure for him to wear it and make beautiful music in it!)

 

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Filed under weaving & handwoven