Applique from Handwoven Remnants

This is the Christmas-tree-skirt project. I wove 3 1/2 meters of background fabric with 8/1 Möbellåtta warp and 6/1 Fårö wool weft. Now, having sorted through all my handwoven remnants, big and small, I have colors and textures for telling the Nativity story in appliqué. My friend with appliqué experience has advised me on materials and technique, for which I am enormously grateful.

Applique from handwoven remnants.
Remnant from the warp for towels I wove for my daughter becomes part of Mary’s garment.
Handwoven remnants cut for applique Nativity.
Donkey shape is cut from remnants from my wool vest project on the drawloom. Paper is on both sides of the double-sided fusible product. One side is peeled off to adhere the fusible to the back of the appliqué piece. (Always remember to draw the reverse side of the image onto the paper on the fusible.)
Applique from handwoven drawloom fabric.
Appliqué piece is face up, ready to be fused to the background.
Making handwoven applique Nativity.
Blue star is from opphämta on the drawloom. Green palm trees are from a long-ago rigid heddle scarf and from a warp of cottolin towels. Manger is pieced from some of my earliest floor loom fabrics. Swaddling cloth is fine cotton M’s and O’s. Baby’s halo is from Swedish lace curtain fabric. Every piece of fabric has a story.

Using a double-sided fusible product, I carefully cut out each shape. After laying all the pieces out in the proper arrangement, I fuse them, layer by layer, to the background fabric. The Nativity narrative is formed, piece by piece. I still have handwoven remnants to add to the lower edge, and embroidery to stitch around some of the appliqué shapes. I’m hopeful to complete all of it before Christmas.

Making a handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
This is the felt tree skirt I saw every year around our family’s Christmas tree when I was a girl.
Handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
Planning the arrangement of the appliqué pieces onto the background fabric.
Making a handwoven applique Nativity scene.
I start by fusing the manger into place because the head of baby Jesus is at the very center of the whole length of cloth.
Handwoven applique Nativity scene.
Wide variety of handwoven fabrics tell the Nativity story. Threads of linen, cotton, wool, and bamboo.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Scraps of paper backing indicate that all the pieces have been fused into place. Next, embroidery and other handwork, while considering the meaning of Christmas.

My remnant scene tells the story of God with us. The holy babe in a pieced-together manger reminds us that God loved us by sending Jesus to our worry-ridden world. Worries are the little things and big things that we would like to control, but can’t. Can we add one moment to our lifespan by worrying? Trust in Jesus replaces worry because it puts control back in the right hands.

May you live worry free.

Love,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh my goodness! It’s going to be a gorgeous heirloom! How will you keep the edges of the cut woven pieces of cloth from fraying? I can’t wait to see this finished. No doubt you will have it completed before Christmas.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I think you’re right that this will become a cherished heirloom. I envision having it out year after year.

      Most of the cut edges are secured with the fusible that I used. And the embroidery that I’m planning to do will serve a dual purpose – stitching around vulnerable edges, as well as being decorative.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    What did we do before fusibles?

    Textiles. Taking scraps of this and that and with blessings of creativity from God something wonderful happens where before for waste.

    Who knew playing with fluff would end up spun yarn? Or, looping that yarn would lead to cloth. Or stains would lead to dyes. Or mended holes would lead to lace.

    We are blessed with the end result of those ‘discoveries’ and the ever present ‘waste not want not’ that makes sure we use every last scrap of our hard work.

    Please forgive my getting into the weeds. I am trying to figure out how there are 6 plastic container lids of varying sizes left over from packing up my crafts. I think this is in the realm of socks and dyers….

    Beautiful tree skirt. I am looking forward to the finished project under the Christmas tree this year.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hello Nannette, I enjoy your thoughtful response so much. Using every last scrap has a way of showing us that when we think we are all used up, the Lord whispers that He’s not quite done with us.

      Thank you for your lovely communication,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    Just beautiful!

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What an amazing project this is! Every piece tells a story, with each piece being a part of THE STORY. So meaningful in so many ways, and very inspiring. I can’t wait to see the finished tree skirt, but I say that about all of your projects! Thank you for sharing this process…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, You express my sentiments perfectly, about being a part of THE STORY. What a grand story to be in. Thank you for contributing your thoughts!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Cynthia says:

    Wow please post when your finished, Would love to see.

  • Loyanne says:

    Oh! So very wonderful in so many ways. Thank you for sharing.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    This will be so moving…..

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is absolutely beautiful, what a treasure! And such a great use of remnants from all those projects.

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    That is just sweet. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Kristin G says:

    I’m very glad you’ve shared this process with us, Karen. It’s so inspiring! I love that you took what others might think of as waste and worthless (only to a non-weaver, of course ) and are turning it into a treasure! What a beautiful reminder of God’s redemption.

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Process Review: Christmas Tree Skirt Fabric

This is a Christmas tree skirt in the making. The next stage of this special project will include appliqué and embroidery. The embellished tree skirt should be complete by the time Steve and I put up our Christmas tree this year. This luscious white-on-white wool cloth is just the beginning. Some colorful handwoven remnants will tell the rest of the story. I’ll let you know when that part is finished…

At the very end, with the back tie-on bar right behind the shafts.
Back tie-on bar is right behind the shaft bars. The shed is compromised, but I am still able to squeeze my shuttle through to weave enough picks to empty my quill.
Just off the loom, unwashed handwoven wool fabric.
Just off the loom, unwashed. 8/1 Möbelåtta unbleached wool warp and 6/1 Fårö bleached wool weft.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one-shuttle monotone weaving. It was a quiet stream amid my other rambunctious color-filled looms.

Handwoven fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Wash on delicate cycle in the washing machine. Place in dryer on low heat for ten minutes. Air dry to finish. Snuggle.

Here’s a view into the process of making this cloth.

May your days be merry and bright…

Happy early Christmas,
Karen

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It Is Going to Be All White

I am getting ready for Christmas. When I was a little girl, my Aunt Helen made a Christmas tree skirt for our family. It was a simple white felt skirt, with added colorful felt silhouettes depicting Christ’s Nativity. I want to reproduce that Christmas tree skirt using handwoven fabric. This fabric on the Ideal loom will be the base of the skirt. I will use some of my myriad handwoven fabric remnants for the colorful Nativity appliqué.

Weaving wool fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Möbelåtta warp on the right, and Fårö weft on the left.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Temple in place for consistent beat and tidy selvedges.

The warp is unbleached 8/2 Möbelåtta wool. The weft is bleached 6/1 Fårö wool. The 6-shaft point twill fabric is delightful. Perfect for what I have in mind. It is peaceful, soothing, restful, and calm. You can see that everything is going to be all white.

Wool fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Six-shaft point twill.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
In anticipation of Christmas.

There is a time for color, action, and noise. But we also need a time for serenity, stillness, and quiet reflection. Going alone to sit in the Lord’s presence gives us just that. It is there that we can pour out our heart in prayer. The Lord meets us where we are when we pray. And He tells the trusting heart that everything is going to be all right.

May your heart be at rest.

With you,
Karen

PS Floating Selvedges. Last week I asked if you could tell which one of these four towels was woven without floating selvedges. (1 – 4, with the towel on top as #1.) See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels

Four new handwoven towels.
Three of the four towels were woven with floating selvedges.

The towel that was woven without floating selvedges is the same towel that received the most votes. Towel #2!

It seems counterintuitive that weaving twill structures without floating selvedges could produce a pleasing edge. But most of the time the small floats that appear at the edge are inconsequential, especially after wet finishing. (By the way, I am weaving the white point twill mentioned above without floating selvedges, as well.)

Thank you for your wonderful participation!

6 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    That’s a really lovely fabric, Karen. And yes, it’s calm, soothing, and absolutely self-assured. I’m a lover of winter and the can see the joyful little swirls of snow and ice crystals dancing over the blanket of snow. Your tree skirt is going to be stunningly beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It does look like ice crystals on a layer of snow. It’s pretty. I think it’s going to be a lovely fabric to hold, too. Like a lightweight little blanket.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    Are you sure you live in Texas? Your handling of white on white brings memories of last December.

    Well done.

    Nannette

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a great idea for this beautiful fabric! You already know that I really like white on white, not to mention utilizing leftover fabric for the appliqué, love it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I have been carrying this project idea in my mind for a few years. It feels good to get it started. White on white has always been a favorite of mine, too, though I haven’t done much weaving of it.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Looms Quietly Waiting

Merry Christmas Eve to you. Looms are quietly waiting to resume their rhythm. Meanwhile, songs of joy and hope fill the air because the Savior of the world is born.

Pictorial tapestry on Glimakra Standard loom. Only 6 cm remaining.
1. The Standard
Pictorial tapestry, with only 6 centimeters of the cartoon remaining.
Rosepath rag rug completed on the Glimakra Ideal loom.
2. The Ideal
Second rosepath rag rug completed. Two short rugs yet to be woven on this warp.
Wool handwoven scarves.
3. The Little Loom
First of two scarves is started. I am using the Stardust draft by Mona Nielsen, published in Happy Weaving, from Vävmagasinet, but with yarn and colors of my choosing.
Drawloom getting set up for weaving rag rugs with single unit drawloom.
4. The Drawloom
Warp is threaded and tied-on. Single-unit draw cords have been prepared. Next step: Attaching draw cords to pattern units. And then, tie up treadles and start weaving!

May your night be silent and holy, calm and bright.

Happy Holy-days,
Karen

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I Forgot to Tie the Cross

It’s not a good feeling when you discover that you did not tie the lease cross on one of the warp bouts. When you wind a warp, it’s the cross that keeps the ends in proper order. I carefully tie both sides of the cross before removing the bout from the warping reel. This time, though, I inadvertently tied only part of the cross, which is, essentially, not tying the cross at all.

Realigning threads at the cross.
Working from right to left, I separate one pair of ends at a time to try to recreate the proper order of the warp ends. After every few strands, I insert the lease sticks and tie the cross. Fortunately, the bout on the left was tied properly before it left the warping reel.
Ready to pre-sley the reed and beam the warp.
Ready to pre-sley the reed and beam the warp.

I make my best guess to recreate the thread order, inserting the lease sticks little by little. And as I beam the warp there are several twists that threaten the whole process, getting hung up at the reed. But I coax the warp through at a snail’s pace, not forcing anything.

New wool warp being beamed.
I beam the warp and stop frequently to check the yarn for twists on the front side of the reed. No combing my fingers through the warp, which could lead to uneven warp tension. I lightly flick any twist-ups in front of the reed with my fingers to help keep them moving.

Eventually, the warp is successfully beamed. What a relief!

New warp ready for threading.
Now that the warp is beamed, there is no more concern about misaligned ends. The ends are now in the proper order as they appear on the lease sticks.

Things that matter become misaligned when we or those around us mess up. Some of the ensuing twists and conflicts spell disaster. It’s not a good feeling. We start to imagine that we’re alone and forgotten. You are not forgotten. Baby Jesus of the real Christmas story grew to manhood for a clear purpose. He came in pursuit of you and me, gently calling, never forcing, ever loving us, to put our threads back in order again through his cross. What a relief!

May your threads be put in order.

Good Christmas,
Karen

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