Picture Perfect Handwoven Skirt

The skirt in my mind is picture perfect in style and fit. If I could snap my fingers and make the skirt appear, I would. Instead, I find my way to a workable sewing pattern by trial and error—agonizing over every small step. The sewing part doesn’t scare me. But I’m in over my head in the garment design arena.

Using Garment Designer to design a layered tiered skirt.
Quarter-scale pattern pieces give me a way to test and try various ways to put the skirt together. I learn a lot of things that don’t work. There is much sewing, ripping, tweaking, calculating and recalculating, etc. And pulling my hair out, figuratively speaking.
Designing a handwoven skirt using Garment Designer software.
Settling on something that works. One more little mockup should answer most remaining questions. I use Garment Designer (patterning and design software) to create the patterns. I can print quarter-scale and full-scale sewing patterns.

A not-as-simple layered tiered skirt replaces my original idea of a simple three-tiered skirt. The new design has a fitted yoke at the top of the skirt (and a zipper) instead of a super-simple elastic gathered waist. All this, so the distinctive borders of each tier will flutter freely, and not be trapped in seams. The trouble is worth it. I can see the finished skirt in my mind’s eye. It is phenomenal! The fabric is handwoven, made for a purpose. This is a skirt worth waiting for.

Testing ideas for a handwoven skirt.
Testing ideas full scale. After several tries, I finally have a good fit on the skirt yoke, which is encouraging.
Handwoven skirt in the making!
Full-size mockup (not shown) satisfies my fit and style requirements. Floral cotton lining fabric will be concealed under the handwoven tiers. Full-scale sewing pattern is printed and ready…

You were skillfully made for a purpose. Through many trials and errors, lessons in success and failure, we discover why we are here. God created you for this very time. Trust him to guide you, especially through agonizing moments. By his grace, he forms us into the phenomenal masterpiece that he has always had in mind.

May you walk with purpose.

Love,
Karen

Miss Fit and I

This is the moment Miss Fit and I have been waiting for! We have come to the beginning of the end of the real tiered skirt. Or, maybe I should say it’s the end of the beginning, since weaving is just the beginning of this skirt. My next step is to finish the fabric: find and repair errors, wash, dry, press. And then, on to construction: detail studies, measure, cut, gather, sew seams. And lastly, of course, I will find an occasion to wear the summery subtly-patterned huckaback skirt, even if summer has already slipped into hiding until next year.

New 24/2 cotton warp.
Beaming the 24/2 cotton warp on my 100 cm Glimåkra Ideal Countermarch loom.
Weaving fabric for a tiered skirt.
Fabric for the first tier of a three-tiered skirt. 16/1 linen weft.
Weaving fabric for a 3-tiered skirt.
Fabric for the second and third tiers of the skirt. Classic pattern in five-shaft huckaback.
Cloth beam on the Glimakra Ideal loom.
Cloth beam fills with skirt fabric as I near the end of the warp.
Weave until there's nothing left to weave!
Weave until there is nothing left to weave. That’s my motto.
Fabric for a handwoven skirt.
Cutting off as dusk hits the windows.
Handwoven fabric for a 3-tiered skirt!
First view off the loom is always a special moment. Love at first sight!
Handwoven skirt fabric.
Miss Fit is modeling a preliminary muslin of the tiered skirt. I will do some detail studies with small pieces of the handwoven fabric, and then make a final muslin before sewing the “real” tiered skirt.
Handwoven fabric for a tiered skirt.
Detail of skirt fabric.

May you see your ideas take shape.

Miss Fit’s double,
Karen

Time to Weave

I would like to finish this skirt project in time to wear the skirt this summer. Huckaback (huck lace) is easy to weave, but it takes time. All I need is time.

Weaving fabric for a tiered skirt.
Huckaback with five shafts and five treadles on the Glimåkra Ideal.

Linen weft threads pack in tighter and make better selvedges when they are dampened. I need a tight weave to square the pattern that is coming on the next two skirt tiers. And the edge of the skirt flounce is a selvedge that will be fully exposed, so tidy selvedges are a must. It takes a little bit of time to hold a damp cloth against the thread as I wind a quill, or to wrap a damp cloth around a quill that’s already wound. It’s worth it. In the scheme of things, that little bit of time is nothing…and everything.

Weaving fabric for a tiered skirt.
By dampening the 16/1 linen weft I am able to get a tight weave without having to beat as hard.
Linen weft in schoolbus yellow!
The edge with the poppy-thread border will be the lower edge of each tier on the three-tiered skirt. I’m paying special attention to the selvedge, and dampening the linen weft really helps!

We all have a little bit of time. Look at your hand. A lifespan is no longer than the width of your hand. A lifetime is one moment to God. Our life begins and ends in one breath of God. This little bit of time we have is nothing…and everything. This is how God loved us in our little bit of time: he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not perish but have timeless life with him.

May you have a little bit of time.

With you,
Karen

Tried and True: Linen

Take a short stroll through our home and you will see and touch linen in all its superb versatility. Linen warp and weft speaks of elegance. Yet, this natural fiber is right at home with ordinary daily living. Linen, oh, how it sings!

I am thrilled to be dressing the Julia now with 16/2 linen on eight shafts. We will have another linen highlight to grace our home—a table runner for our dining room table.

Bockens 16/2 line linen for a handwoven runner.
It is a happy day when new tubes of Bockens 16/2 line linen arrive at the door.
Making a linen warp.
Winding two threads together at a time on the warping reel.
8-shaft Julia and linen warp.
Dividing the warp into three bouts makes it easier to spread and beam the warp with even tension across the warp.
Glimakra Julia 8-shafts. Glorious linen!
Golden bleached linen is a gorgeous backdrop for the olive center section and contrasting midnight blue borders.

Is there anything more vibrant than the sheen of linen saturated with color? And, have you noticed that plain unbleached linen is anything but plain? Linen fills both ends of the spectrum—glowing exuberant color and natural wrinkled humility. Linen, oh, how it sings! There’s always room for more music in the home.

May your home be filled with everyday elegance.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Slay – Sleigh – Sley

Slay the dragon. Ride the sleigh. Sley the reed. To succeed in these challenges, you must be prepared, pay attention, and make sure you’re on the right track. Here, I’m going to focus on sleying the reed with success. (For dragon slaying and sleigh riding challenges, I won’t be of much help.) Don’t miss the new video below with tips for sleying the reed.

Loom lighting makes a difference!
Shop light attached to top of loom provides good general lighting to all working areas of the loom. Smaller clip-on lamp provides directed light for detail work, like sleying a dense reed.
Clip-on lamp for detail work at the loom.
Even in a room filled with natural light, a focused bright light on the work area relieves eye strain and reduces errors.

First, make sure you have good lighting. I have a snake arm shop light attached to the top of my loom. (See Tools Day: Loom Lighting for more about loom lighting.) I also have a smaller clip-on gooseneck LED lamp, clipped onto my loom bench, that illuminates my specific working area. With a fine-dent reed, like this metric 100/10- (~ imperial 25-) dent reed, focused lighting makes a difference. It means seeing the dents instead of guessing.

Making a new video. Tips for sleying the reed.
Making a new video. Steve does the filming and I do the editing.

In this video, I share some tips for sleying the reed, with checkpoints to ensure success. (See Tools Day: Click Test for more about the “click test” mentioned in the video.)

May your dragons be few.

Yours truly,
Karen