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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Quiet Friday: Risky Way to Fix a Threading Error

We all have threading errors from time to time. This time I completely transposed the threading on shafts one and two. I saw the error when I started weaving; the pattern in the cloth was not as it should be. After a few days of contemplating, arguing with myself, and studying the error, I decided on an ingenious and risky fix (I hinted at it in My Best Weaving Stunt to Date!). Switch the two mis-threaded shafts. Yikes! One slip up could bring the whole warp down–figuratively and literally. I caught myself holding my breath several times through the process. Gently hopeful, but not 100% sure that my plan would work. Thankfully, it did work.

The threading went from this

Threading error and a risky fix. Switch 2 shafts!

Shafts 1 and 2 (counting from back to front) have been threaded incorrectly. Shaft 1 should be 2, and 2 should be 1.

to this

Risky way to fix a threading error. Video.

Shaft bars 1 and 2, upper and lower, have been switched. The operation was similar to transferring lease sticks in the back-to-front warping process.

Here’s a short video that shows the maneuvers I did to correct the error. No re-threading needed! The kuvikas square within a square wins!

May you be brave enough to take appropriate risks when needed.

Happy Problem Solving,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Whoa! That was some ingenious maneuvering!

  • Julia says:

    Brilliant! Of course in the video it looks completely smooth and safe! The dramatic music helps to relate some of the risk that was involved, however.

    • Karen says:

      Julia, It makes me smile that you mentioned the music. I was hoping the music would help convey that risk factor.
      I did feel quite accomplished when I finished the operation and found it worked!

      Karen

  • Marie says:

    A quick thought, if shaft 1 and 2 are in the wrong threading sequence, why not change the tie-up. Risk factor very low.

    • Karen says:

      Marie, That may be what I should have done. But when I tried changing the tie-up on my weaving software, I got confused and couldn’t get it to work out. I could visualize the results of switching the shafts, so I went with that. On one occasion at Vavstuga, I watched Becky do a masterful switching of heddles from one shaft to another, so I think I was inspired to try something heroic. 🙂

      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    Having actually dropped shafts (don’t ask), I am not brave enough to do it on purpose! Kudos!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I have *almost* dropped shafts before, so I know how it can happen! But this was not much different than transferring the lease sticks to the back of the reed. That always makes me nervous, too. Every step, I stopped, looked, and thought it out before making a move.

      Karen

  • Peg Cherre says:

    My question was just like Marie’s. Seems like a much easier way to go. Maybe the fact that you were on a countermarche loom made this more complex????

    But your fix was impressive!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peg, I don’t think the countermarch made a difference. My problem was I couldn’t quite figure out how to change the tie-up. Seems kind of simple now, but it stumped me at the time…

      At least now we know this can be done…

      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    way over my head, but congratulations. maybe you should work for nasa. es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I’m afraid NASA wouldn’t want me. My math skills are just strong enough to plan a weaving project, and not much more than that. But, if they need someone to move heddles around, they can call me.

      Karen

  • Karen says:

    Now, that made me hold my breath! Well played…..

  • Martha says:

    Whew, I was holding my breath just watching the process. Well played!

    • Karen says:

      Martha, These Swedish countermarch looms are so adjustable and flexible, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible at all. I’m glad I have Texsolv heddles!

      Karen

  • Alison says:

    Well done. Clever girl Karen. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Nanette says:

    I don’t think this would work with a jack loom with solid frame shafts, do you? But maybe changing the tie up would be easier on that kind of loom, too. Anyway, I was proud that I thought of changing the tie up even before reading the comments! And, actually, couldn’t figure out even with the video just how you did it. I won’t even ask how you happened to make such an error…just thank you for sharing that you did!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You’re right, this wouldn’t work with a jack loom with solid frame shafts, or with metal heddles. Hopefully, you’ll never make this kind of mistake, but changing the tie-up should work.

      I don’t know how I made that mistake, either. My brain was just thinking in reverse for those two shafts. It took me quite a while to even see the error, because my brain kept seeing the two sets of heddles in reverse.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I’m totally confused, not unusual. Was what you were doing was moving the heddles from S1 forward to S2’s position and S2’s heddles back to the S1 position by putting the heddles on a temporary stick and dragging them forward or backward and then re-inserting the shaft stick? Don’t the heddles and the temporary stick get hung up on the other heddles or the warp? I’m astounded! Very well done indeed.

    • Karen says:

      Joanna, You described it perfectly! That’s exactly what I did. I only had to put in a temporary stick (a warping slat) on the first shaft heddles. Then I could move the second shaft to the first shaft place. I then repeated the process under the warp. The only things that got in the way were the shaft bar cords that hold the upper shaft bars. I undid them and reconnected after the transfer. And the shaft-to-lamm cords under the warp had to be released, and then reconnected.

      I decided to do it when I surveyed the situation and thought, if only I could just slide those heddles forward on the warp, and slide the others back. That got my wheels turning.

      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Woven Baby Wrap Baby

A new life in the family is cause for celebration and thanksgiving! I had the privilege of weaving a baby wrap while my daughter carried the new little life inside of her. A wrap being woven to hold Lucia, and a baby being woven in the womb. Beautiful and more beautiful. God’s blessings on Eddie and Melody as they love the gift they have been given.

Handwoven baby wrap holding new baby.

Handwoven baby wrap with baby Lucia. Photo credit: Eddie Fernandez (Lucia’s daddy)

 

 

Woven baby wrap, handwoven by the baby's grandmother.

In her mother’s arms… Photo Credit: Eddie Fernandez (Lucia’s daddy)

May you love and be loved.

Affectionately,
Lola (Grandma)

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Young Weaver

I had a visitor this week. You might be surprised to see what a seven-year-old can do. Young Jamie picked out her colors, wound fabric strips on the ski shuttle, and wove a small rag rug. Almost all by herself! She helped me advance the warp, and remove warping slats as they came off the back beam.

Young weaver at the loom making her first rag rug.

After twisting the weft at the selvedge, Jamie angles the weft in the shed before beating. And this seven-year-old has plenty of strength to pack the weft in tightly with the beater.

It was rewarding to see my little friend catch on so quickly. She believed me when I told her she could weave a rag rug; and she trusted me to show her what to do. Weaving was a success because Jamie listened well, and followed my instructions. After she left, I wove the warp thread header, cut the rug from the loom, and tied the knots, leaving fringe. Now Jamie has her own little handwoven rag rug!

First rag rug by a seven-year-old weaver. Glimakra Ideal floor loom.

Warp ends are secured with overhand knots. The fringe adds a playful touch to Jamie’s first rag rug.

Trust in God is a bold thing; it is confidence in God through all of life’s challenges. Beware of anything that tempts you to question your trust in God. He comes beside us and faithfully guides as we walk through life. God is someone we can trust. When we listen well and follow instructions, he weaves something good through our hands.

May you listen well.

Trusting,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Thirteen Cushions

There is always room for more cushions and pillows. What better way to use handwoven fabric? Making cushions puts the fabric to use where it can be seen and touched. The very first project on my first floor loom was fabric for a throw pillow, with a cottolin warp and 16/2 linen weft. Unsightly selvedges are nowhere to be seen!

Cotton and linen cushion. Handwoven fabric.

First project on the Glimåkra Standard floor loom.

From the all-linen blue and brown dice weave cushions to the wild and hairy pillows with rya knots, each one makes a statement. Each one says, in its own way, “Welcome to our home.”

All-linen handwoven dice weave cushions.

Linen Dice Weave Cushions

Thirteen cushions, all handwoven. Karen Isenhower

 

Enjoy this little slide show video I made for you.

May your handwoven fabric be put to good use.

Happy Weaving and Sewing,
Karen

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