Create Intricate Fabric With Pin Weaving
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by Shirley Adams
excerpted from Threads #147, p. 72
Pin weaving doesn’t require much equipment; you only need a padded board for a base that will act as your “loom.” The pin-woven fabric is formed over a piece of fusible interfacing. Once you are happy with your design, iron it to the fusible interfacing to hold everything together. The result is a soft, pliable and beautifully textured fabric.
You can use this technique to weave a rectangle as I demonstrate here, or you can trace a garment pattern piece onto your board to weave a unique design specifically made for your garment, such as a collar or cuff. It’s the perfect way to add texture and color to any of your sewing projects. It’s also portable so you can work on your lap while watching TV or pack it in a tote to take on vacation. Pin weaving is the perfect on-the-go craft for sewers looking to use up scraps from their stashes.
Build a loom
To make the loom, you need fusible interfacing in the size and shape of your desired weaving and glass-head straight pins (glass-head pins are a must because you will iron the piece later). You can use recycled cardboard for the base. Be sure to use a durable fabric to cover it and pearl cotton thread for the warp loom strings.
1. Cut the cardboard. Cut two, 11-inch by 14-inch rectangles from corrugated cardboard with the corrugation running in a opposite directions on each piece — vertical on one, horizontal on the other — to make the loom sturdier. Make the rectangles larger or smaller, depending on the size you want your weaving to be.
2. Cover the board. Cut a 24-inch by 16-inch rectangle from a durable fabric such as denim. With right sides together, fold the rectangle in half, aligning the 16-inch edges. Sew a narrow seam on the raw edges, and leave a 12-inch end open. Turn it right-side out, and insert the cardboard layers. Turn the open end inside, and sew it closed.
3. Position the interfacing and pins. Lay a piece of lightweight, fusible interfacing (the shape and size of the intended weaving plus seam allowance) on the board, fusible side up. Insert straight pins 1⁄3 inch apart to hold the interfacing edges in place. They should lay flat in a row along the longer edges.
4. Weave the thread. Tie a pearl cotton knot to the first pin. Next, lace the thread back and forth between the pins, as shown above. Then tie another knot on the last pin. Now, your “loom” is ready.
Weave a unique design
To weave the design, you need 20 to 30 pieces of yarn (1 to 2 yards each) and a no. 16 tapestry needle. Choose a collection of yarns, ribbons, and fabric strips with contrasting textures—thick, thin, fuzzy, smooth, matte, glitz—and a harmony of colors, including light and dark choices. If you find creating the perfect color combination difficult, start with a print fabric or magazine ad that features colors you love, and duplicate them in the yarns you choose.
1. Start the weave. To begin, choose a yarn which blends with the rest of your selected yarns. Thread it through a tapestry needle, and start a simple over-under weaving process to form a curve across the loom.
Weave the yarn to form a curve.
2. Always begin and end on the outside. When weaving your yarns, don’t start or stop in the loom’s center because it throws off the over-under sequence. Leave the yarns dangling on the sides. Use glass-head pins to secure yarns; avoid pulling the motif’s sides. If a yarn is thick or you’ve included a strip of fabric or ribbon, weave it across in one pass, not going back and forth. As the design builds, push new rows close to the previous ones to tighten the weave.
Pin the yarn ends to secure them.
3. Highlight your favorite yarn. Choose a “star” yarn (one that stands out), and weave it to fill in a space along the curve you made in step 1. Weave this yarn back and forth, and with each pass, extend one warp yarn nearer or farther to smoothly blend it into the space; it has more impact if used in a concentrated area.
4. Change the curve direction. To avoid monotony, change the curve direction at the sides by weaving wedge shapes from the edge to fill in a void.
5. Check your design. Turn your board periodically so you fill in areas equally. When choosing the texture or color yarn to use next, “try it on” by placing a ball of the new yarn on top of different areas to see where it will best complement the piece before you weave it.
Place balls of yarn on the weave to test your next color choice.
6. Remove unwanted yarns. These abstract weaves often grow on their own—sometimes in surprising and delightful ways. If, however, you regret that bit you just added, remove it, and substitute something more to your liking. You can also push sections around as they freely slide on the warp threads if you want to change a curve direction.
7. Press to finish the piece. When you’ve finished weaving your design, pull out the straight pins holding the yarn tails on each side, leaving the top and bottom pin rows in place. Cover it with a press cloth, and steam-press to secure it to the fusible interfacing. The press cloth is necessary because direct contact with the iron could melt some of the yarn fibers. Remove all the pins. Press again on both sides, and your woven piece is ready to be used as you please.
Part 2, Step 1
Weave the yarn to form a curve
Part 2, Step 1
Part 2, Step 2
Pin the yarn ends to secure them
Part 2, Step 4
Add wedge shapes to change the curved direction
Part 2, Step 5
Place balls of yarn on the weave to test your next color of choice
Create intricate fabric with pin weaving.
Combine yarn colors, textures, and fibers for eye-catching results.
Here, a simple tote becomes an extraordinary handbag with a pin-woven inset.