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Clothing patterns for handwoven cloth

TJ | Posted in The Archives on

Has anyone made clothes from handwoven fabric? I have always sewed, and recently learned to weave and (sorta) spin. I get a big charge out of handling the fabric and fiber, playing with colors. I would like to make something to wear (jacket? vest?) that doesn’t look too boxy and unfitted, yet shows off the fabric. (That is, the fabric I dream about making….). Any advice?




  1. Sue_Hayes | | #1

    I began weaving about a year ago, although most of my work so far has been in dishtowels. Have made tunic, pants, over shirt(linen) and ok, guess it's another tunic, from fabric I have woven. The pants and latest tunic were woven with Uki 10/2 mercerized cotton in different 8 harness twills, 20 epi sett and about that in ppi, so they're pretty flexible. I used a regular Vogue pants pattern, except that I pinned the front to the back and tapered the legs because my fabric turned out so narrow that I couldn't afford a complete side seam! The top was cut using the shoulder,sleeve and neckline pattern from another Vogue(since I'm at work, don't have the numbers)except that I decided to use the entire width of the fabric to make a bell sleeve. To do that, I cut apart the sleeve pattern and spread the cap shape horizontally enough to stretch across the whole fabric.
    Similar sorts of maneuvers on the other projects(cut up almost an entire Wall Street Journal making pieces for the first tunic because no commercial pattern awailable that I liked.
    The point(yes, I have one). Taking into account the nature of your handwoven, ie drapy, rigid, etc, you can pretty well do what you want. I am still scared to make regular machine buttonholes, so on the overshirt used an overpleat placket, ironed interfacing inside the buttonhole placket and made the holes there. I hate Fraychek for cut edges, since it gets so stiff, but sew about a 2.5 stitch line next to the intended cutting line and it works well. Avoid patterns with a lot of little bitty pieces because every cut edge is another opportunity for your fabric to ravel.
    I haven't worked in finer threads to see what will happen, but have helped my mother sew her handwovens for 15 years and encourage you to go ahead. It will make you crazy, but it's fun. Sue Hayes

    1. TJ | | #2

      *Dear Sue: Thanks for your reply and the hints on handling the handwovens. Do you sew your line of stitching next to the cutting line before or after you cut your fabric? Does overcasting cut edge (by machine) work for you? or binding edges? Any suggestions on interfacing? use it? don't use it? what kind?Are there any books that have patterns specifically for handwovens? Otherwise I am thinking of adapting Japanese patterns (from the Marshall book "Sew your own Japanese Clothes") since they are traditionally based on a narrow piece of fabric, and using every bit of it. Come to think of it, that would probably be true of many if not all "traditional" clothing designs from cultures that relied solely on handwovens, i.e., practically everybody in the history of the planet up until a couple of hundred years ago....Thanks again.

      1. Sue_Hayes | | #3

        *Well, it all depends. For any kind of straight cut, I measure, sew on both sides of the intended cutting line(about 1/4 inch apart)and then cut, which reduces the length and weight of the remaining fabric.I cheat on areas like shoulders,necklines, sleeve caps by cutting, leaving fabric pinned (more pins than the usual, approximately the density for slithery or drapey fabrics)until the last minute and then staystitching close to the edge(and putting the easing seam on the sleeve cap while you have that piece in hand. I have never tried overcasting(would think it might fray a loose weave unless you were careful) but have used seams great with a zigzag in likely-to-fray areas.A series of books aabout traditional garments like "Cut My Cote", from the Ontario Museum (I think--back at work&the sewing books are at home) gives details on a broad range of "whole cloth" garments.There are also some decent books on Japanese clothing.Appropriate iron-in interfacing not only stabilizes handwovens, but is very helpful with the fraying problem. Obviously you want to use it in the same way you'd put it in commercial fabrics, and avoid any situation where it would kill the drape you want. I just follow the same principles I'd use for weight, flex,etc in other cases and so far it's been great.On a broader subject,to really get into the history of the fiber arts, Elizabeth Barber's book "Prehistoric Textiles" or her broader "Women's Work" are great. She is a weaver (Ithink her academic field is linguistics) and teaches at Occidental College.

        1. TJ | | #4

          *Love those magazines: Sew News arrived today and mentions a website with a book and website and pattern line on sewing with handwovens. Anybody familiar with a book by Linda Kubik Curtis called "Sew Something Special" or her pattern line called "Elements" for handwovens? Her website is: . Thanks!TJ

          1. lin_hendrix | | #5

            *Hi TJ, Have you looked at the magazine "Handwoven"http://www.interweave.com/iwpsite/handwoven/handwoven.htmlthey often have features with garments made from handwoven cloth. --lin

          2. TJ | | #6

            *Thanks! I have seen a couple of issues of "Handwoven" ( I am REALLY new at weaving) but not the website.I have ordered the book by Linda Kubik Curtis and a book by Virginia West called "A Cut Above: Couture Clothing for Fiber Artists." Meanwhile, many different pink and raspberry yarns are calling me, calling me.... they want to be a nice, rectangular scarf.--TJ

          3. Sue_Hayes | | #7

            *Well, TJ, looks like you have already found some of the sources I was going to mention. Visited my mother this weekend and browsed her collection. Since she's a book junkie, there was plenty to see. Like an idiot, I had completely blanked on the "Handwoven" special collections series. They include not only weaving information and drafts, but also cutting layouts for garments.In addition to Curtis and West, Marshall has "Make Your Own Japanese Clothes", Yvonne Porcella issued a series of booklets "5 Ethnic Patterns",etc, and Dorothy Burnham's classic "Cut My Cote"which I mentioned before. My mother suggests "Riches from Rags-Saki-Ori and Other Rural Japanese Clothing"(Yoshida and Williams). It doesn't have patterns, but gives a very clear idea of construction.Besides, it's a fascinating book! In this issue of Handwoven I saw an ad for "patterns for Weavers", Susan Lilly. Her website is listed as: http://www.weavingroom.com.Hope you have fun with the scarf. I'm about to embark on a necktie in 20/2, my finest guage yet. Should provide the appropriate level of anxiety and frustration. Whoever referred to weaving as "relaxing"missed the point entirely.The fun part of weaving is that you can't relax--just gotta keep thinking and doing.The downside is that when you're between projects you wander around twitching and muttering until your family begs you to just START, please, and cut out the talking about it!I thought this behavior was unique with Mom, who started weaving 15 years ago, when she was 66, but the more weavers I meet, the more common I find the condition. It's when you are 3 inches into a project and catch yourself planning the next one that you know you're hooked on weaving.

          4. TJ | | #8

            *Oh, so THAT's what that was. When I came home with all the pink/raspberry/peachy yarns on Friday, a skein or two of yarns with bluish-purplish tones or flecks had hitched a ride, claiming to be the "inspiration" for the next project. Six inches into weaving the pink scarf, I wake up trying to figure out how to replace some of its [too-many?] raspberry cotton warp threads with a few [radical!] lines of the pale bluish-purplish silk/rayon.... Thank you for the book alerts, and thanks to your mother, too; she sounds like a member of my tribe. TJ

          5. marie_berman | | #9

            *Hello weavers/sewers. I have another book suggestion. The title is Clothing From the Hands That Weave, by Anita Luvera Mayer. She is a weaver and designer who has some very impressive garments on display in her book. She gives construction diagrams and sewing information, but the best part was her explanation of the thought process she used in finding the right match between the fabric and the garment.I think the book is out of print, but it may be available from libraries or used book dealers.

          6. Cathy_H | | #10

            *My sister and I have a business making handwoven clothing-I am the weaver and my sister does the garment contruction. We've found over the years that alot of commercial patterns(Vogue,Butterick etc.) will do quite well with handwoven fabric if they don't have princess seams or alot of detail. Patterns that are intended for wearable art(mostly for quilters I think) and polarfleece do very well,too. As far as finishing- you didn't mention whether you have a serger or not. Of course , it does a fabulous job finishing the edges. If not, the fabric isn't quite as fragile as you would imagine. You can cut it out and use a multi zig-zag on the edges- just don't over handle it orit will stretch.The most important thing is- DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE THE SCISSORS TO IT- REMEMBER- IT'S ONLY FABRIC!( thats often my mantra,repeated over and over to myself!) We often use Sew Sheer(sp?)- a tricot fusible interfacing- it does a great job of keeping the handwoven from sagging(especially if lined) but it does stiffen the drape a bit.All the publications mentioned are superb. Also Sandra Betzina has a video on sewing handwoven fabric thats excellent too- don't know if its still available.Good Luck! Cathy H.

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