Channeling Chanel in a Handwoven Pleated Skirt

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Chanel tweed—this iconic fabric rose to fame in the 1920s when Coco Chanel commissioned fabric from a Scottish textile manufacturer. She then used it in her line of jackets, blazers, and skirts. To this day, Chanel still uses these classic textiles in their collections

When Anzula asked me to try out their new yarn Dottie, I wove some samples. The black tweedy flecks made a beautiful textured fabric that immediately reminded me of Chanel. With my love of fashion, and a desire to create garments that are beyond “loom-shaped,” I decided to make a handwoven pleated skirt. While a Chanel-inspired jacket would have been fun, I wanted to create a project that even a beginner could handle!

The skirt is completely customizable as far as sizing and length goes. The pleats are approximately 3″ wide, which meant I needed to weave 9″ of fabric per pleat. (Of course this measurement shrinks a little after washing, but it gave me a good baseline.) Also, since I was set on using a small loom, my fabric was going to be woven in two panels, then seamed along one selvedge. My warp was about 15.5″ wide, which after seaming and washing gave me about 28″ of length. You can increase or decrease the weaving width to create the length of skirt you want. Calculate 9″ of woven fabric for each 3″ of the finished waist measurement.

Multiple yarns and colors in the warp and the weft make a visually interesting fabric, full of tonal depth and texture. The pleats themselves also create an exciting runway moment—since the interior color differs from the exterior color, gold peeks out from under the blue as the wearer walks. If I were sewing this skirt from commercial fabric, I’d have to piece it together from different colored strips. Handweaving let me weave the color into the fabric. I wove 3″ of blue, then 6″ of gold, using a template that sat along the outside edge of my weaving. I tracked the number of 9″ sections so I could make two identical panels.

Once both panels came off the loom, I lined up the stripes and hand-sewed them together along one long edge. Then I formed the pleats, laying the right edge of a blue stripe on top of the right edge of a gold stripe. I hand-tacked the pleats for 4″, measured down from the waist edge. Then, with right sides together, I hand-sewed a side seam, leaving a 4″ opening at the waistband edge to accommodate a closure. I made a small rope (using a single strand) in the blue yarns using our Incredible Rope Machine, and laced it through each side of the 4″ opening to cinch it closed. For an on-trend flair, I added a tassel to each end of the rope. These tassels also prevent the rope ends from working their way out of the fabric.

My sewing machine only came out for the asymmetrical hem: I ran a line of stitching around the bottom edge, cut the fabric about 1.5″ below that line, and frayed the hem. I then hand-washed the skirt, laid it flat to dry, and pressed the pleats all the way down their length for a crisp finish.

Here are instructions for the sample shown:

Finished size: 28–30″ waist circumference x 22–28″ length
To customize the waist size, allow 9″ of woven fabric per 3″ of waist (before shrinkage). Be sure to replicate the stripes for each panel. To customize the length, take the total length (before shrinkage) and divide by two—this number is your weaving width.

Yarn:

  • Anzula Dottie (fingering weight, 80% superwash merino, 17% acrylic, 3% polyester, 420 yards per skein), 3 skeins Echo and 2 skeins Toffee.
  • Anzula Luster (fingering weight, 50% superwash merino, 50% tussah silk, 405 yards per skein), 1 skein each Nimbus and Toffee.

Warp: 728 yards of Dottie in Echo, 364 yards of Luster in Nimbus.

Weft: 364 yards of Dottie in Echo, 484 yards of Dottie in Toffee, 242 yards of Luster in Toffee.

Equipment: 20″ Flip loom, 10-dent reed, two 24″ stick shuttles.

Number of warp ends: Dottie 104, Luster 52

Warp length: 7 yards

Width in reed: 15.5″

EPI: 10

PPI: 10

Warping method: Direct warping with a warping peg

Warp order: 4 ends of Dottie in Echo, 2 ends of Luster in Nimbus repeated across the warp.

Weave structure: Plain weave

Weaving: Begin with 1.5″ of Dottie in Echo for seam allowance. Pleat repeat: Weave 3″ of Dottie in Echo, then weave 6″ in stripes: 4 picks of Dottie in Toffee and 2 picks of Luster in Toffee. Repeat the pleats for about 90″, then weave another 1.5″ of Dottie in Echo for seam allowance. Leave a 2″-4″ gap in the warp and weave a second identical panel.

Finishing: Hand-sew the two panels together and create the pleats as described above—hand-sewing is preferable to machine-sewing here. Lay the short edges together, right sides facing, and sew a side seam by machine or by hand from the hem edge to about 4″ below the waist edge (the opening should be as long or slightly longer than the hand-tacking on the pleats). Make a rope about 24″ long for the closure and lace through each edge of the fabric above the side seam. Add tassels to each end of the rope. Optional: Machine-sew an asymmetrical hem line along one long edge of fabric; cut about 1.5″ below the line and fray the edges. Hand-wash the fabric, allow to air dry, and press pleats with an iron on the wool setting to set the fold.

About Anzula Luxury Fibers

Anzula is located in Downtown Fresno, California. We are passionate about good yarn and vibrant colors. Our team hand-dyes yarn and fibers made from the most luxurious fibers in the world like cashmere, camel, tussah silk, linen, merino, targhee, tencel, alpaca, yak, and milk protein. Our intense love of knitting, crocheting, weaving has lead us to create over 140 stunning colorways, all of which are available in every yarn base we offer.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin is the Content Manager at Schacht, and loves creating weaving and spinning content for the Schacht blog. His other spinning and weaving work can be seen in Handwoven, Spin-Off and the SIP Easy Weaving With Little Looms. You may find him on Instagram as @benjamin_krudwig

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin is the Content Manager at Schacht, and loves creating weaving and spinning content for the Schacht blog. His other spinning and weaving work can be seen in Handwoven, Spin-Off and the SIP Easy Weaving With Little Looms. You may find him on Instagram as @benjamin_krudwig