Tag Archives: Structo loom

Weaving a vest on my Structo loom

The other day, I had a big ‘aha’ moment.

My husband is a jazz musician and composer and completely awesome bundle of wonderfulness, and I love weaving beeeeeuuuuutiful shirts for him to wear when he’s performing. (last year’s Jazz festival shirt: Link).

I have been weaving away on fabric to make him a new shirt for this year’s Jazz Festival, LINK

But…. oops… it’s cream and ecru with lotsa colors…. and, the color that the guys mostly wear to perform in is black.

Our daughter made Jim a gorgeous black shirt from the Folkwear Victorian Gentleman’s shirt pattern, so it’s kinda dumb to weave him another one….. sooooooooooooooo the big AHA was…………… weave him a VEST!!!!!!

Ding! Lights go on, whee’s and skippetty hops and happy dances ensue….

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

When our son got married, I used the Folkwear pattern to make him and my hubby kilts, (oh my word.. the grooms men, hubby and our son, all wore kilts and they looked FABULOUS…).

The kilt pattern has a really spiffy vest pattern, which Jim likes (that’s essential- why make it if he doesn’t like it?)

Oh oh, whenever I go on the Folkwear pattern site, it makes me want to buy more patterns. I love their patterns and have been wearing them for more than 3 decades. We actually got married in clothing I sewed from Folkwear patterns, and our children grew up in Folkwear.

(No profit, affiliations etc, just love their patterns)

Okay, just had a brief noodle through their website, and am seriously in love with the Siberian Parka….. hmmmm… that would be fun to weave the fabric for…. hmmmmmm.

Anyhow…. in the midst of meeting design deadlines, and new projects that are so delicious and tantalizing and time consuming,

I am in the throes of weaving up narrow bands for this vest, and loving it!

The vintage Structo looms are kind of like the ‘Featherweight’ sewing machine – tiny, perfectly formed workhorses that are beautifully engineered and much sought after.

Although, after I spent hours the other evening, warping the black cotton, I would have cheerfully sold the blessed loom to the first taker. (Warping black thread at night is not so much fun).

Luckily, I got over my snit, and am now utterly enchanted and weaving merrily away.

Which is good, as the Jazz festival is getting closer and closer…. eep… I need to go meet some deadlines and then get weaving!

😀  Happy weaving!

PS: I carved the shuttle in the photo a few years ago.  🙂

My dear friend, Terri Bibby, is a Saori teacher and weaver extraordinaire, who told me about some shuttles that don’t have a metal rod through them.

This intrigued me, so I made myself one to see how I liked it.

I absolutely love it. I made it small and low profile to fit the small shed of  Structo and Peacock looms. Thumbs up, indeed!



Filed under Loom & looms & small loom weaving, weaving & handwoven

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.


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


Filed under weaving & handwoven

Small loom weaving in springtime

All the looms in my studio have been full of happy warps.

As well as working oh so hard on a couple of new books (one on potholder loom weaving and one on Lily Speed-O-Weave looms) as well as designing for magazines, I have been weaving up a storm.

Here’s a little of what’s going on:


copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

I am working on a new freeform weaving  jacket that is all in creams, whites and naturals.  This is the first sleeve.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

There are several yards of the jacket fabric on ‘Patient Zillah’, my ‘paper doll’ manequin- the jacket fabric is the widest, plain cream, highly textured layer under amost a hundred yards  of narrow strips of fabric. I wove  the jacket fabric on a rigid heddle loom.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

I am also working on a tunic or shirt for me and am going to be piecing strips of narrow fabric together for it.

The narrower lengths of fabric were woven on my Structo loom.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

I am madly in love with small loom weaving, and dearly love  my old vintage looms.

I have had to do some fixing up to make it work, but it’s been pure delight to get it fully functional again.

I put really really long warps on them and have had a delightful time playing with clasped wefts as well as different patterns.

I love the freeform philosophy of weaving- it’s all about feeling free to play and express your creativity in any way that ignites your imagination.

So, when I was learning the ins and outs and ups and downs of the Structo looms, I felt quite free to change my flight plan whenever I got bored with a pattern or became interested in a new one. It’s all about the learning process and I love that.

My shirt/tunic will be a record of some very playful weaving.

I am hoping that he will let me break loose and weave him a much ‘jazzier’ vest to go over the serene shirt!!!

I wanted to do a beautiful, artsy photo of the miles of fabric, draped over the branches of the apple tree that is right outside the studio window. It’s heavenly – stuffed full of glorious blossoms, and oh so beautiful!


The mosquitoes are so vicious and the clouds of them are SO intense, that I am barely able to go outside, let alone be draping miles of fabric in the tree! so, you’ll have to use your imagination, and just envision all kinds of lovely fabric strips hanging in this tree:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

Would you like to see a little of what I have been up to with my potholder looms in the last year, as I work on the new book?

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

This is the ‘Gossamer Wings Woven Butterfly Shawl’ to weave on the Potholder loom.

I love this shawl so much that I decided to release it as a stand alone pattern.

You can read all about it, and order the pattern, if you’d like, 🙂 at:


I decided to take a little break and finish the book on weaving on the Lily Speed-O-Weave loom.

I’ve been working on this book, on and off for several years, and finally, after a whole bunch of people have sent me notes, asking for it, I decided: Okay… Just do it!

Of course, I totally under-estimated how long it would take to do it, as I have been re-writing, re-photographing, photo-shopping, then re-doing it all over and over… you know how it goes in the editing and polishing… and besides, I got all inspired and excited and came up with a whole bunch of new projects.

One of the things that struck me this week, is that I really needed to put in at least one project that shows a traditional pattern on the Lily Speed-O-Weave. I have been so busy with coming up with innovative ways of working with the looms, that I forgot that there will be people who want some of the ‘classic’ stuff, too.

So, here’s for the fans of the ‘classics’…. the standard flower pattern…. although, I present it in a way that is a heck of a lot easier to understand than some of the old old booklets.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

So, there you have it!  A little of what’s been going on in my studio!

Happy springtime and happy yarntime!

And, as always, big hugs all round 🙂


Filed under Loom & looms & small loom weaving, weaving & handwoven