Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.

Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.

Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.

Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.

Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.

Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.

Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.

Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.

Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.

Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower

Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Mary Kay Stahley says:

    I would love to know where to get patterns to make a bag. Have yardage and really want to turn it into a purse

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Kay, I have found a few good commercial patterns for an assortment of bags.

      I used McCall’s 3894 to make the large tote bag. (I did break several sewing machine needles when sewing the very thick corners.)
      And I used Simplicity 2201 for the green and teal clutch. Other patterns that I have not used yet are Simplicity 9949 and Simplicity 2274. All of the patterns have multiples sizes and shapes of bags. There are probably some more good patterns out there now. I’ve had these for several years. I enjoy browsing the pattern books at the fabric store.

      For some of the bags, I folded and played with the fabric to make up a simple design.

      For the shoulder bag that I currently use all the time, made from the baby wrap remnant, I purchased a bag at the store that I thought would work well with handwoven fabric. I took it home and ripped out all the seams to deconstruct it. Then I had the basic shapes, which I reconfigured to exactly what I wanted. I made a practice bag first out of denim before using the handwoven cloth to make the final bag.

      I hope that gives you some ideas!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    It was so much fun to see all your beautiful bags, Karen! Nineteen is certainly not enough!! Hope you keep making more and sharing them with us. You have a wonderful sense of color!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    You had the icon to share to Facebook, so I shared this post with my Rigid Heddle Adventure group. They’ve been talking a lot lately about creating bags. Thanks for the post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, That’s wonderful! The rigid heddle loom is perfect for making fabric for bags because it’s so easy to use a variety of fibers in the warp and in the weft. It’s a fun adventure!

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Karen

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Truly an inspiration, as always
    Thank you Karen

  • Kantilal Doobal says:

    Please quote me a Magazine for which I wish to submit and an article dealing with woolen durrie weaving.
    thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kantilal, Thank you for asking.

      I don’t know a magazine that has an article about woolen durrie weaving. “Väv” magazine sometimes has articles about different types of rug weaving, and “Handwoven” magazine sometimes has articles about rag rug weaving. The March/April 2017 issue of “Handwoven” has instructions for a “Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug” that I designed.

      Karen

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Tools Day: Loom Bench Baskets

Some accessories are so useful they simply become an extension of the loom. That’s how my loom bench baskets are for me. I automatically place an emptied shuttle there without a second thought. It’s where extra shuttles go that are waiting their turn, or extra quills that have been wound, or a few fabric strips that are set aside for one section. For anything I need to drop or pick up–the baskets are always there.

Loom bench basket holds the ski shuttles for a rosepath rag rug.

Deep basket on the bench at the baby loom (Glimakra Ideal) easily holds my ski shuttles for this rosepath rag rug.

Loom bench basket holds the 5 ski shuttles for this rosepath rag rug.

Leather strap on the basket slips over the end post of my loom bench, right by the always-handy measuring tape.

Deep basket, perfect for holding shuttles.

Basket made for this purpose, from Vavstuga.

Loom bench basket with Ikea container inserted to hold quills.

Basket at the big loom (Glimakra Standard) holds a small hanging cup I found at Ikea that is useful for holding small things, like filled and emptied quills.

Loom basket is tied to the bench with an old inkle-woven band.

Old basket I’ve had for years is put to use on the other side of the big loom bench. I tied it on with a wool inkle band I wove many years ago.

May you have what you need at your fingertips.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Skinny Inkle Band

This is the narrowest inkle band I have ever made! With thirteen ends of fine 16/2 cotton, I get a very skinny ribbon. I brought my inkle loom with me to the Texas Woodcarvers Guild Spring Round-Up. This gives me something to do at the “Conversation Table” while Steve attends wood carving classes. Some ladies have their crochet, some have their knitting, and I have my inkle.

Skinny inkle band.

Inkle shuttle holds fine 16/2 cotton weft.

Farm scene relief carving.

Steve making progress with his farm scene relief carving.

The inkle loom is a conversation piece, to be sure. Inquiring people stop to look and ask questions. Many think it looks complicated. “It’s a lot simpler than carving a piece of wood,” I say with a smile.

Skinny inkle band, woven with 16/2 cotton.

Warp is close to the maximum length possible for this inkle loom. Off the loom, the band measures about 2 1/2 yards (2.25 meters).

Dime shows scale of narrow inkle band.

Finished skinny inkle band, with a dime for scale.

Seek the Lord; seek His strength. Walk in the Lord’s strength. When this is your habit, your continual mindset, life’s struggles seem less complicated. Down shedshuttle – up shed – shuttle. Repeat. Keep going to the end. 

May you have the strength you need. 

Truly Yours,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Steve’s carving is very impressive! And I love that tiny inkle band. What kind of inkle loom do you have? Thanks for the reminder that I can take my inkle loom with me when I am at family gatherings and the like, though a smaller loom might be in order.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, the narrow band caught the eye of someone who carves dolls and makes clothes for them. She bought the band from me!
      This inkle loom was handmade by someone. I’ve had it for a long time. I think it is similar to Schacht inkle looms. I have used this loom to weave many inkle bands while riding in the car on long trips.

      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    That’s a really sweet little band!

    My barely 4-yr old granddaughter really wants to weave. She’s figured out the two treadles on the band loom and can often be found inside the big Glimåkra. I’d like to set up a little loom for her, what do you think, rigid heddle or inkle?

    Your meditation today came at a time when it was sorely needed. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Joanna, It seems like the inkle loom would be easiest for a young weaver. The sequence of moves has fewer steps than with a rigid heddle loom. Sounds like a fun endeavor!

      I’m very glad that the meditation thoughts came at the right time for you.

      Blessings,
      Karen

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Weave the Portable Way

What do you do when you are away from your looms for a week? Portable weaving, of course. I thought about bringing my band loom, but fitting the band loom in the car turned out to be more of a hassle than it is worth. So the band loom stayed home.

Glimakra band loom with cottolin warp.

Band loom stays home.

I have my inkle loom with me instead, as well as my small tapestry frame. Steve is taking a woodcarving class from Dylan Goodson this week at the Texas Woodcarvers Guild Seminar; and while he is in class I am keeping my hands busy with portable weaving.

Woodcarving class by Dylan Goodson.

Steve beginning to shape his relief carving, following the finished example by his instructor, Dylan Goodson.

Linen inkle band.

First inkle band of the week is linen.

Cottolin inkle band warp.

Cottolin warp for the second narrow inkle band.

Cottolin inkle band.

Second inkle band almost finished.

Small tapestry on portable frame loom.

Start of a small tapestry of a little girl, derived from a picture in a children’s book.

Cottolin inkle band. Karen Isenhower

Time to put on one more inkle warp!

Woodcarver doing relief carving.

Adding more details to the relief carving. Good carving takes time and patience. Like weaving.

May you enjoy passing the time away.

Happy portable weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • linda says:

    I hope you find other fiber artists that have portable projects ( ie knitting) it makes the adventure more exciting and new friends I’m sure are always welcome. I have taken knitting. I’ve done sweaters of woven material , knitted the cuffs with the same yarn and machine stitched them on. My portable little project turns out to be a finished big project. I’ve also taken hand woven bands and stitched them on bought fleece or boiled wool jackets to jazz them up. Kaeen I’m sure you’re never with out something in the fiber arts and I’m sure they all are beautiful. Laughter, Peace and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, I did make new friends; the social interaction was fun. Several of the ladies had crochet projects with them. The portable looms I brought were great conversation starters. A few people knew what an inkle loom was, but most had never seen one before.

      Karen

  • Kris says:

    Your bands are lovely, Karen! I’m sure you had a lot of interest with you inkle loom. People are used to seeing knitting and crochet done in public, but bring out a loom or spindle and the questions fly! Isn’t it fun?

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Tools Day: Enough Shuttles for Now

If I line up all my weaving shuttles, end to end, how far do you think they will reach? The accumulation started slowly, adding a shuttle here and there, as needed. My husband contributed to my collection by handcrafting some of the shuttles for me. “I could use a stick shuttle in such-and-such a size.” “Okay, dear,” he would say, before going out to the garage to whip up yet another yardstick shuttle for my rigid heddle loom.

Ski shuttles are for rag weaving. Boat shuttles are for almost everything else. Most of my boat shuttles are traditional Swedish shuttles. All these fascinating shuttles, such simple tools, work the wonder of weaving.

Hand-crafted walnut stick shuttles for rigid heddle loom. Mohair/silk/alpaca shawl.

Shawl woven on 32-inch rigid heddle loom, with super kid mohair/silk and baby alpaca. Smooth, handcrafted walnut stick shuttles were used for this project.

Novelty yarn woven on inkle loom.

Tapered edge on pine inkle loom shuttle helps for beating in the weft. I have been known to weave with crazy novelty yarns on my inkle loom.

Hand-carved maple band loom shuttles, and woven bands.

Maple band loom shuttles, hand-carved by my husband, *live* in a small handmade bag that hangs on the back corner of the band loom. This shaped shuttle is perfect for the tricky one-handed manipulation that is needed. If they are too smooth and polished, however, they slip right out of my hand.

Ski shuttles for rag rug weaving. This rug used 3 shuttles at a time.

My favorite ski shuttle is the beautiful cherry wood shuttle made by my husband, Steve. It helps to have several ski shuttles. The “Creative Expression” Rosepath Rag Rug used three shuttles at a time to get the gradient color effect.

Boat shuttles ready to weave.

Boat shuttles eager to weave. Do you hear them? … “Pick me”…”No, pick ME!”

A few of my favorite things. Karen Isenhower

These are a few of my favorite things. Swedish woven goods made on a Swedish loom with Swedish boat shuttles. (I’m the only thing not Swedish here.)

34 1/2 feet of weaving shuttles.

How far will my shuttles reach? 34 1/2 feet (that’s 11 1/2 yards, or 10 1/2 meters long). I ran out of room, so the last one is standing on end.

May you fascinated with things that work.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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