Weaving and Sewing Go Hand in Hand

  The Brooks bouquet technique gives the Classic Capelet a lacy look.

imageplaceholder Christina Garton
Editor, Weaving Today

Recently I’ve gotten a bit back into sewing. It wasn’t intentional, but the fact was that I needed a new wallet and I am far too cheap/picky for anything I found for sale. (Also, since when did women’s wallets get so big? They’re almost like a second purse–I digress.) It had been a long time since I had sewn anything but a hem on my handwoven towels, so I meekly went to the fabric shop and purchased some lovely fabric covered in wee foxes, a good amount of interfacing, and plenty of muslin so I could make a mockup or two before I cut into the fancy foxy fabric.

What I discovered was that in my absence I had forgotten how much I enjoy sewing. I was also amazed at how very simple fabric shapes combined with simple sewing techniques created such a useful item. In less than an hour after I had created a functional muslin, I had a perfect little wallet made entirely of rectangles of cloth.

  The Starry, Starry Night Shawl features wonderful texture that you can't resist touching.

Immediately after I finished my little wallet, I found myself thinking about sewing with handwoven cloth again. Nothing too complicated, and certainly nothing couture, but simple garments and accessories that can be made with minimal cutting (if any). Weavers are lucky because we can create complicated items with minimal sewing simply by weaving interesting cloth and using color, texture, and pattern to our advantage.

Take the elegant classic capelet from the aptly titled Simple Woven Garments, by Sara Goldenberg and Jane Patrick. Lacy Brook’s bouquet woven in a soft fingering-weight alpaca/wool blend creates a fabric with just the right amount of drape. Simple shaping around the collar and the addition of a button at the front transforms a simple rectangle into a sophisticated capelet that would be perfect for a night out on the town.
Then there’s the Starry, Starry Night Shawl from the same book. Mock waffle weave gives the base of the shawl lovely texture that cries out to be touched. Now while such a fabric would be nice on its own for a shawl or a scarf, what takes this piece to the next level is the gathered edging. The edging is a thin strip of colorful plain-weave cloth that is gently gathered and then sewn around the edge of the base cloth. Woven from a combination of soy silk, a cotton/flax blend, and 100% baby alpaca yarns, the shawl is no doubt as delightful to wear as it is to weave. It really is amazing what you can create using rectangles of cloth and minimal sewing.
It’s easy to avoid sewing (especially with handwoven cloth) because of fear: fear that the sewing will be too complicated, that the cloth will fall apart, or that the end product won’t turn out quite right. In the same way that in cooking often the simplest of meals can be the best, sometimes the simplest of sewing projects can create something extraordinary. So if you’ve been meaning to finally sew with some handwoven cloth, but don’t know where to begin, try starting with one of these simple projects. Who knows, maybe you’ll be designing your own handwoven garments and accessories in no time!

Happy Weaving!


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