Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.
The fabric is off the loom; finished and trimmed, but there is still some work to do to make a skirt.
I made a pattern for a six-gore skirt. I chose six gores because I used a 15″-wide loom. I knew the fabric would shrink and estimated that the finished fabric would be about 13 inches wide. This may seem opposite of what may have been the safe way of proceeding: finishing the fabric and then making the pattern. However, since I had made a sample and finished it before, I had enough information to continue weaving my yardage.
I only needed one pattern piece because all six gores would be identical for this skirt. I took that piece, beginning at one end of the fabric, pinned it down and traced it with tailor’s chalk. I traced every gore before cutting just to make sure that everything would fit. Luckily I still had about 12 inches left of excess fabric!
Once everything was cut, I went to the sewing machine and sewed each piece together, remembering to leave an adequate opening on one side of the skirt for the zipper.
Before I added the zipper I tried the skirt on my own body and then I put it on the dress form and let it sit there overnight. This would allow the fabric to move around if it wanted to.
Next I cut and sewed the lining in the same way I sewed the body of the skirt. I wanted to line it for several reasons. First, most high-quality clothing is lined, and since I had spun, woven, and sewed this myself I am considering it couture! In addition, I decided to not have a waist band for this project. Adding a lining would allow that top edge to be finished.
And finally comes the zipper and the hem.
You might think this skirt is finished now but it isn’t. Even though I love to spin and weave with white, I really like color in my wardrobe. The plan is to send this skirt to Amy King, the owner of Spunky Eclectic, in Maine. She will put her expert dyeing hands to work to make this skirt extra special.
I’m not showing you the fully finished skirt yet, so stay tuned for the beautiful modeling of this project.
Wow-wee I am almost done!
What I did for this round wasn’t time consuming or even a big deal, if you’re Beth, but it scared the snot out of me. Scissors + handwoven cloth = the heebie-jeebies. I also sewed my cloth with a machine.
I am a big baby when it comes to cutting and sewing handwoven cloth. I don’t even like to trim my fringe.
To make my mobius wrap I have to finish my ends and sew them together somehow. I had a few choices to think about while I finished my edges.
I knew I wasn’t going to get perfectly smooth and even ends without a serger, so I let that little glimmer of perfectionism go right away. I sewed one line of stitches last time on my dying Singer. I got paranoid that that single line of sewing wasn’t going to hold, so I added two more lines of stitching on each side, close to the first line.
Yes, I sew really crookedly, which is one of the reasons I don’t quilt or make my own clothes. The other is that I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. You’ll see in a second. I sewed my lines and then I had to trim my cloth close to the stitches: the cutting part. I put my cloth in the brightest light I could find and checked at least three times that it wasn’t doubled over in any spots, then cut.
I cut the fabric on both ends as close to the sewn lines as I could without cutting through them. Success! They are not entirely straight lines, but still success.
Then came the decorative stitching. I wasn’t worried about this as much, but since I was using my weft yarn, I knew the stitch I chose had to be simple, because the yarn is pretty big. I did some thinking and looking through books and decided that I wanted to use an insertion stitch .
Insertion stitches are used to hold two edges of cloth together, sometimes with a space between them. I tried five different stitches before going back to the plainest one. The yarn was too big for anything fancy, because instead of fancy I was getting clumpy. I used a stitch called Twisted Insertion Stitch by Mary Thomas and Twisted Faggoting Stitch by Elizabeth Glasier Foster in Embroidery and Design in the New Stitchery (1926).
Again I used a lot of light and a wooden lap desk to separate the layers of cloth. I twisted my fabric, so it would be a mobius when stitched together and stitched it, pulled it out, stitched it, messed with the spacing and tension, and called it done.
I think it came out good, but not great. I love the twisted side, but the stitched side needs more.
I want more stitching, more embellishing. I’m going back to my embroidery books to make a plan for what to add.
One of the great things about working with variegated yarn is having so many colors to choose from when I use it for embroidery.
This is what I have left and I know I can really add to the wrap with just a bit of stitching here and there. Next time you can see it my embellishing and see me wearing my wrap.