All this year we seem to have been talking about trying to use less plastic in our homes and for our everyday needs. With this thought in mind I decided to weave my friends a useful and ecological present made from natural fibres. I chose from my stash a natural jute yarn for the warp and a thick cotton yarn for the weft.
This idea and many others came from this very versatile book on making the most of your rigid heddle loom.
I used my little, 12″ (30cm) rigid heddle loom with a 10dpi (40/10cm) reed, threading up the centre part of the heddle with the jute yarn in every hole and slot. I then wove 14 picks of the thick cotton before beginning the loops which are created by lifting the cotton thread over a knitting needle with the help of a crochet hook.
The first six threads of the warp are kept as plain weave (as are the last six) to make a selvedge around the loops. After each row of loops I wove three rows of plain weave to anchor down the loops. Repeat the 14 rows of plain weave to complete your square. Remember to wash your finished length of weaving (before cutting it up into individual squares) in hot, soapy water to allow the fibres to come together and to make the thick cotton yarn fluffy!
If you would like to make clothing from your handwoven fabrics made on your rigid heddle loom you might enjoy our book GET WEAVING which will guide you through the process of choosing yarns, looms, weaves and basic construction. Sarah also has a good range of sewing patterns especially designed for narrow widths of handwoven fabric. They can all be found on her etsy shop. etsy.com/uk/shop/GetWeaving
We wish you a very Happy New Year and HAPPY WEAVING
This month we are featuring Sarah’s latest sewing pattern for a zip up jacket using handwoven fabric made on the rigid heddle loom.
The warp for this project is a mixture of cotton and ribbon yarns. The weft is a handspun wool and alpaca yarn which is soft to the touch and has a lovely drape. Using a 10dpi (40/10cm) reed the warp and weft sit comfortably with each other, leaving little gaps which close up when the fabric is washed.
Washing your handwoven fabric is essential before you start cutting out. I always try to put mine out on the line on a windy day to allow the yarns to fluff up and come alive. The warp was 240″ x 15″ (609cm x 38cm) woven on a 20″ (50cm) rigid heddle loom.
The fabric, after washing measured 200″ x 13″ (508cm x 33cm) so there was very little wastage after cutting out. When cutting out, lay your pattern onto a single thickness of fabric. This will ensure that all the pattern pieces will fit onto your handwoven length and will make cutting very accurate.
Always remember to use the woven iron-on interfacing along all the cut edges before overlocking or zigzagging over the raw edge. This will protect your seams and provide a lovely smooth surface to stitch over, especially helpful if you have any chunky or metallic threads in your weaving which would like to hook themselves around the sewing foot!
This sewing pattern # GW. JA013 in sizes S-XL is available from Sarah’s Etsy shop esty.com/uk/shop/GetWeaving We hope you have fun planning this and other projects on your rigid heddle loom and using it to create wonderful, unique fabrics.
The autumn colours are really good here in Suffolk this year so I decided to make an autumnal jacket with a piece of handwoven fabric that I felt matched the mood.
The fabric was woven on my 16″ (40cm) rigid heddle loom using the 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed, threading every hole and slot. I had intended for the warp to be all green but found that I was running out of yarn with still a quarter of the reed to thread. Using some hand spun yarn in a contrasting colour I finished the threading making sure I had just enough green left to make the selvedge. (Always use the same yarns for each selvedge so that when the loom is tensioned it will pull evenly). The weft was a soft, variegated singles, bought in a charity shop! The softer colours of the bought wool muted the bright green of the warp, making a more subtle colour way.
Having woven 200″ (508cms) of this fabric I could not think how to use it. The stripe down one side just did not appeal. Then I thought, why not cut the length in half, width wise, join the green edges together, then I would have a piece of fabric approximately 100″ (254cms) long by 28″ (72cms) wide. I could then lay my jacket pattern (# JA003) onto the fabric so that the hem of the garment and the sleeves were on the selvedge (so no need for hems) and the contrasting stripe (in the warp) would run across the shoulders and sleeves and around the hems!
Woven with wool using the 7.5dpi (30/10cm) this fabric has a lovely soft feel and is easy to sew. The pattern design makes it feel more like a cardigan to wear than a jacket with a warmth and lightness for these autumnal days. It certainly does have a join that runs across the entire jacket but it is so evenly placed that it seems to work.
To finish the front seams I used a satin binding which I then topstitched to give a crisp outline to the otherwise uncluttered front edge (look, no buttons!). The skirt (pattern # SK002) was made sometime ago and has the same weft but a different warp. It is always interesting to see how changing the warp or the weft can give you so many different results . Both these garments were made using the GET WEAVING sewing patterns available from etsy.com/uk/shop/GetWeaving. We hope you have some fun playing about with your hand weaving and enjoying the freedom of the rigid heddle looms.
Happy weaving from Sarah and Elisabeth
Just before the summer winds down it is always good to weave some bright fabrics to carry you into winter. This tunic is a really simple shape with all four pieces of pattern the same size with no shaping or darts. It slips easily over the head and can be worn with or without a tee shirt underneath.
For my warp I chose a mixture of cottons, silks and linens as well as a few fancy yarns with a shiny finish to add sparkle. Mixing different yarns in the warp is fine as long as you remember the golden rule to always have the same yarn for both selvedge edges. This way when you tension your warp it will pull evenly and you will have a good selvedge.
I wove this fabric on a 16″ (40cm) rigid heddle loom using a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed. I needed a 140″ (356cms) plus 20″ (51cms) wastage so I made my warp 160″ (406cms) long, using each yarn randomly threaded so that the finished fabric would not be too stripy. I used the full width of the reed so that after washing I would have just the right width for each piece of pattern. I used a ribbon yarn and cotton yarns for the weft and wove 2 picks of each yarn, beating firmly but not too hard as I wanted to see a balanced weave (where both the warp and the weft show evenly). Any small gaps or unevenness always disappears after washing the fabric so don’t feel you need to beat it down too hard!
After cutting out the fabric I always apply thin strips of iron-on woven interfacing before zig-zagging or overlocking around the cut edges. This woven interfacing will give you complete security over any seams unravelling. It also provides a smooth and flat surface for your sewing machine foot to glide over.
I like to overlay the front and back seams when constructing the garment to make the most of the selvedge. This gives a nice flat finish which can be enhanced by top stitching using a large stitch. No garment is complete without buttons!! This is of course is my personal need so certainly not compulsory! Finishing a garment is always fun and there can be so many ways to do this so take your time and see what suits it.
I do think a pocket is fairly essential with our modern day needs. I usually line the pocket with a matching cotton fabric. This gives it strength and hides all the raw edges.
Here I have teamed up the dress with a pair of trousers made on the 20″ (50cm) rigid heddle loom using a 10dpi (40/10) reed and a mixture of fine cottons.
Do hope you will have some fun experimenting with yarns from your stash to make this very useful top. Sarah has lots of patterns in her Etsy shop designed especially to fit onto narrow widths of handwoven fabric so do take a look. etsy.com/uk/shop/GetWeaving
Happy weaving to you all. Elisabeth and Sarah
This month we are show casing Sarah’s new bias cut top. This is a new sewing pattern featuring clever cutting to make the most of the narrow widths of handwoven fabric.
The warp is a cotton yarn in four colours, randomly threaded through a 15dpi reed using every hole and slot of the heddle.
To compliment the soft colours of the warp Sarah spun a singles of silk and plyed it with a singles of carded, hand dyed cotton to create a yarn with lots of texture.
The hand spun weft gives a lovely texture to this plain weave while the randomly threaded warp yarns give no definite stripe, just a nice heathery mixture of colours. This is one of the joys of the rigid heddle looms that they allow you to play with colour and texture and let beautiful yarns show off to their best.
This has proved to be such a versatile pattern that Sarah has made it up in several different colourways and yarn textures. Easy to wear and flattering to all figures the clever construction allows the narrow widths of the rigid heddle to come into their own.
This and many other versatile patterns are available from Sarah’s etsy shop at the address below. We hope this will inspire you to try weaving a good length of fabric with beautiful yarns on a rigid heddle loom and enjoy the thrill of making your own garments from handwoven fabrics. Happy weaving.
Indigo blue, the colour of a summer sky seems just right for these light weight trousers woven from handspun cotton, linen, silk and soya bean fibres.
The warp yarns are a mixture lurex, cottons, linens, ribbon and a wonderful, over twisted boucle! By using each of these yarns in small amounts across the warp they work happily together when under tension. Remember always to use same yarn for each selvedge to ensure that they all pull evenly.
Woven on a 20″ (50cm) rigid heddle loom with a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed the weaving is quite open and airy. After washing the fabric and line drying on a windy day the fabric blooms and the natural fibres swell to fill the gaps giving you a lovely light fabric with good drape.
My sewing pattern fits exactly onto my hand woven length. Lay out each piece of pattern on single thickness fabric to make sure it all fits exactly. After cutting out use the WOVEN IRON ON INTERFACING on all the cut edges before overlocking or zig zagging to secure the loose threads. This makes sewing very simple and will give all your seams great strength.
Sarah has designed her own collection of patterns to fit onto narrow widths of handwoven fabric and this trouser pattern comes in a several sizes and incudes three different styles. Her patterns are available on her etsy shop.
There is also a trouser pattern in our GET WEAVING book on page 20 with instructions on weaving the fabric, laying out the pattern and construction.
Indigo, with all its varied shades gives such a soft look and it is so nice to use natural fibres at this time of year. The tee shirt above was also dyed with indigo and woven on the rigid heddle loom with two picks of cotton and one of fabric that has been cut into strips after dyeing. The instructions and pattern for this top is also in our book GET WEAVING on page 16 and is available from Sarah’s etsy shop.
We hope you will feel inspired to add trousers to your handwoven wardrobe and enjoy the pleasure of weaving with natural fibres at this time of year. Happy weaving to you all from Sarah and Elisabeth.
We hope you will feel inspired to add trousers to your handwoven wardrobe and enjoy the pleasure of weaving with natural fibres. Happy weaving from us both. S and E
I have been longing to have a go at the idea of combining handwoven fabric with a bold print to make a simple summer dress.
I chose a variegated cotton yarn and a cotton chenille yarn to be my weft and I wove 2 picks (rows) of each yarn for the entire length of the weaving which was 185″ x 13″ (470cm x 33cm) .
In the warp I used a mixture of cottons and ribbon yarns which were threaded through a variable reed. This gave me a 10dpi (40/10cm) for the fine cottons, a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) for the DK cotton and a 5dpi (20/10cm) for the ribbon yarn and these were all in the heddle of my 16″ (40cm) rigid heddle loom.
I chose a modern flower print for the skirt and I was really pleased with the way the different colours appeared in both the warp and the cotton fabric but as the weft was very blue I hoped that it would not dominate the overall effect of the weaving. This is always something to consider. How will the weft change the warp colours in a balanced weave?
I used a simple pattern to construct the upper part of the dress in the handwoven fabric and added pleats to the bottom part of the dress in the cotton material to give some movement. The whole garment is a loose fit and slips comfortably over the head so no zips or buttons to insert which makes for very easy sewing.
The front seam was covered with a tab using the same material as the skirt and then finished with gingham buttons to link it all together. I hope you can see from this picture how the variable reed gives the different setts across the width of the fabric. It is a very clever piece of kit but can be tricky to use if the warp yarn in the wide spaces (larger sett) is too bouncy. Proceed with caution!
I look forward to warmer weather and wearing my new dress. Happy weaving