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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Sweet Little Loom with a View!

Steve thought I should have another loom, so he used his carpentry skills to build a 27-inch Swedish-style four-shaft countermarch loom! It’s beautiful. It’s incredible! In preparation for retirement in a few years, we found a place in beautiful Texas hill country to call (our future) home. For now, it’s a place to gather with children and grandchildren on occasional weekends. And a place to put a sweet little loom.

Making weaving loom parts.

Making weaving loom parts.

Making weaving loom parts. Treadles.

Six treadles ready.

Putting the new little handbuilt loom together!

Final Touch. Tightening the cradles for the top of the hanging beater.

Maiden warp for a new sweet little loom.

Putting on the maiden warp of 12/9 cotton seine twine.

Ready to take the loom apart to move it.

Loom is ready to be disassembled. Warp is wrapped up on the warp beam. Blue duffel bags will hold all the loom parts except for the side frames and the beater, to be transported to the new location.

And it only gets better. We situated the petite loom by the corner windows in the living room. At the loom, I have the best seat in the house, with an amazing view of God’s creation. The loom tells me my husband knows me very well. And the view tells me the Lord knows me, too.

Loom with a view! Texas hill country.

Threading heddles while enjoying the hill country view!

Grandchildren, loom, view... heaven on earth!

Can there be a better setting? Grandchildren playing, loom, view…

Sweet little loom with a view!

Sweet little loom with a view! Heavenly!

None of us can come to God on our own terms. Not by our wisdom. Not by our strength. Only through humility do we find God. Humility opens our heart to God. That’s when we see how much He has done to get our attention to tell us He knows us and loves us. My special loom with a view is an example of what it’s like to be known and deeply loved.

May you know you are loved.

Blessings,
Karen

26 Comments

  • Beautiful Karen. An inspiring blog to exemplify how necessary it is for us to be grateful for the ‘simple’ things in life. My loom with a view has a delightful panorama of the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of Australia, south of Sydney. And today I picked up (another!) little sweet loom, a Louet Jane – for small delicate treasures.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, It sounds like you enjoy a gorgeous setting! Yes, gratitude is essential, isn’t it?
      We have a way of finding space for those sweet little looms…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Meg bush says:

    What a lovely post!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, my goodness! It is beautiful! Not only does your husband know you well, he obviously loves you very much. What a treasure. I look forward to seeing the first project from this lovely loom.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is treasure indeed!
      I have a project on the loom that’s been on my weaving “bucket list” for a while – a four-shaft tapestry sampler. Pictures coming soon.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    What a loving present your husband made for you! Enjoy your new petite loom with the beautiful view.

  • Cindie says:

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful little loom, what woodworking talent your husband has. And yes, what a beautiful view!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, Yes, my husband is very meticulous and an excellent woodworker. This was not an easy project–it certainly was a labor of love!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    This is SO cool! (I couldn’t help but think of the loom plans I found in my husband’s bookcase several years after his death…..and of all the weaving tools he could have made for me had he survived cancer.) I love your setting, too….thanks for sharing this post!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Marcia, I see you know what it is like to be loved. How sweet to find those plans… I’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad that this triggered fond memories – those memories are a blessing.

      Love to you,
      Karen

  • Carol says:

    A real dream come true for a weaver! I am also very grateful for a studio that I enjoy and a husband who has given up his garage to allow me a place to enjoy the talents and use the gifts God has given me. The view is not as wonderful as yours, but I am most grateful for it and now to be able to teach my granddaughter to weave, another to paint, and a grandson to crochet my heart is full.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, The loving surroundings are every bit as important as the view. It sounds like you have a perfect space for using your gifts and pouring into the next generation! That’s wonderful!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Margaret Scheirman says:

    What a beautiful team you two make and this loom exemplifies this! And how beautiful of you to share the story like this!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Margaret! It’s great to hear from you. Yes, we are a team–companions for life. Nick W, back in college days, was the one who told Steve to aim for companionship in marriage. Best advice ever!

      Thanks for stopping in!
      Karen

  • limor Johnson says:

    Karen,
    Your Journey as a weaver is impressive and your willing to share in great detail is very much appreciated.I’m a new weaver and I’m learning a lot from your posts and videos.
    Are you going to use a book with patterns for your new a 4 shafts loom? Can you share your favorite book on weaving?
    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Limor, It makes me very happy to know you are learning from things you find here! You ask a great question. In fact, I am using a project from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell to start the journey on this little loom. The project is called, “Four Decorative Sample Strips.” That also happens to be my favorite book on weaving. 🙂

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Melissa says:

    Hello Karen, I learned to weave at age 16. Then due to kids, job, life, i wasn’t able to weave for about 20. I am now able to weave again. YEA! It just makes me happy. I have looked a weaver’s blogs, all very talented weavers!!!, but like your the best and keep coming back to it. i admire the quality and creativity in your weaving and the fact you are a Christian. I am looking to use my weaving to augment my spiritual gift of encouragement. Thank you for the beautiful site and beautiful words.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa, I’m touched! It’s a pleasure to have you joining me here. Our world needs your gift of encouragement. I hope you soar with that!!
      I know you have encouraged me today. Thanks!

      Happy Weaving (and don’t worry about little typos. I only noticed your kind sentiments.) 🙂
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Ops, I see I didn’t proof read my comment. 🙁

  • Marcia says:

    It’s awesome Karen! I just came back from Lawrence, Kansas, and the yarn shop there is filled with weaving supplies. The tiny yarn shop in Grand Rapids has them too. Whenever I see the supplies, I think of you!

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I know that shop in Kansas! I used to wander in the Yarn Barn just to browse the yarn when I was a student at KU. That was way before I had any notion about weaving. That is so sweet that you think of me when you see weaving supplies. I think of you when I see amazing knitted items – “I know somebody who makes things like that!”

      Thanks for dropping in here!
      Karen

  • Shearling says:

    Very cute loom! Looks like a wee Glimakra School loom. Be sure to mark it with date and maker!

    BTW, the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont has a very old chest of drawers with the names of all the owners over the generations carved into its top. We should all do that to our looms, maybe!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shearling, It is much like one of those Glimakra School looms. If we could have found one of those, I don’t think we (Steve) would have needed to make one. Thanks for the thought about marking it with the date and name of the maker! We hadn’t thought of that. Will do!

      It would be great to have a piece of the history on the loom, wouldn’t it? Oh, the stories the old looms could tell.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • […] been on my mind for a long time. But I purposely waited to begin until I could weave it on my new sweet little loom with a view. Four Decorative Sample Strips, it’s called in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila […]

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Another Small Tapestry Loom

One more little tapestry loom? I signed up for Rebecca Mezoff’s Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms online class, and ordered a Hokett loom to go with it. This petite 7″ x 8″ loom is made by Jim Hokett, who uses exotic woods for the looms. Mine is made of bubinga and chechen woods. Very pretty and nice to the touch! This is a 6-dent loom, and I have warped it double, to have 12 ends per inch.

Hockett loom warped for weaving a small tapestry.

Hokett 6-dent loom is warped 12 ends per inch by warping 2 ends per dent. I am not accustomed to using a tapestry beater or a shed stick. It will be fascinating to try some new things!

New Hokett loom - starting sample for Rebecca Mezoff's class.

I did some weaving while riding in the car. I finished the header, a short hem, and a row of special knots for the hem’s turned edge.

In this course, I am practicing some basic small loom tapestry techniques. Rebecca has a very organized, clear teaching style, so it’s a joy to learn from her. As I practice, I am reviewing things I have learned previously; and I am picking up great tips that are new to me. And, for once, lo and behold, I am weaving tapestry from the front!

May your new year start with learning something new.

Happy Year End,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Leigh Grundy says:

    I almost bought one of those little hokett looms once for sampling. They are so cute. What would you do with such a little tapestry? I can’t wait to see.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leigh, The little Hokett looms would be great for sampling for larger tapestries. I don’t have a specific end in mind. Sometimes I mount the small tapestry and put it in a frame. Most of the time, though, it’s an exercise for my fingers and my mind. I’m not at the point where I’m making masterpieces yet.

      Karen

  • Beth says:

    I followed Rebecca and her time spent in the Petrified Forest. I love her work and would one day like to take a class from her. The online class sounds like a great way to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.

    • Karen says:

      Beth, I follow Rebecca on Instagram. Her small tapestries from the Petrified Forest were very interesting. After seeing other students’ work on IG, I decided to go for it myself!

      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I have put that class on my personal wish list. I got a Lost Pond hand-held loom for Christmas and I’ve never done tapestry. I will be visiting the person who gave it to me next summer; it would be nice to show her I’m using it! 🙂

    On that same trip I’m taking Basics at Vavstuga!!! :happy dance:

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Rebecca shows a Lost Pond loom in her class. It looks like a good frame loom! Vavstuga Basics!! WooHoo! You’ll love it.

      Happy Weaving!
      Karen

  • Louise Yale says:

    Also just bought a Hockett loom – in red zebra wood !! Same size as yours.

    Just experimenting with the loom now with traditional tapestry techniques and soumak which I really enjoy, Soumak stitches provide a 3 demensional accent or frame to the other stitches.
    Currently working with cotton perle but want to try silk.
    Planning to make a small flat purse for frequently used credit cards for my purse. I may add a braided necklace and wear it as a piece of textile jewelry.

    • Karen says:

      Louise, I love the wood. There is something special about holding wood in your hands that makes the tapestry work that much more interesting and special.

      I have done a little bit of soumak on this loom, too. It’s something I’d like to explore some more.
      I’d love to see what you’re making! The purse and textile jewelry sound fascinating!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tapestry While Waiting

Do you remember the baby wrap I was weaving for my daughter and her coming baby? Baby Lucia has arrived! And she is already capturing our hearts. I was glad to have a small tapestry to keep my hands busy while waiting her arrival.

Weaving from the back on small travel tapestry frame loom.

Weaving from the back on my small travel tapestry frame loom.

Tapestry spelling out grandbaby's name - Lucia.

Weaving letters to spell the name of our new grandbaby, Lucia. L – U – …

Observing a newborn infant is observing pure trust. She completely depends on her mommy and daddy.

First Day

New baby and new mother. Trust and deep affection.

It will take days and years for Lucia to know her parents and learn to understand their deep love for her. Oh, to have the heart of a child. Trust in the Lord. Simply trust.

Infant's first day.

May you rest as you trust.

Love,
Lola (Grandma)

13 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Small Tapestry Bridge

The unfinished small tapestry went in my travel bag this week. Travel tapestry is perfect for those waiting times at the airport; and gives me something interesting to do in flight. Best of all, while visiting my mom, she and I sat side-by-side one afternoon “doing art.” Mom used Staedtler coloring pencils to color detailed flower designs in a fancy coloring book; and I used Fårö wool to weave colors in the tapestry. What a sweet setting in which to finish this tapestry bridge!

Planning small tapestry.

Under the cartoon of small tapestry.

Beginning of small tapestry.

Tapestry while traveling.

Bridge takes shape in small tapestry.

Small tapestry - weaving from the back.

Weaving from the back. Small Tapestry.

Progress on small tapestry Bridge scene.

Small tapestry - Bridge scene, nearing completion.

Building a bridge. Small tapestry.

Small tapestry - bridge nearing completion.

Small tapestry Bridge, finishing touches.

Bridge small tapestry.

May all your travels be pleasant.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    Truly a work of art. What wonderful memories you wove into this piece.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful Karen, and what a great time with your Mom! I hope she is well.
    Thank you for all the effort you go to share your work with us. I really appreciate it.
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty,
      It’s my real pleasure to share what I’m doing. And even greater joy to have people like you who want to see it!
      My mom is doing very well, thank you! She and I had a wonderful time together on my visit.
      Fond regards,
      Karen

  • linda says:

    what a beautiful piece of art. I really love this one and all the others. And no stretcher !!! LPJ, linda
    PS the shading is really good and the arch is perfect. Want to go for your Masters? I have the requirements.

    • Karen says:

      Linda, Your kind words mean so much to me, especially knowing your experience in these things! Masters? My goodness, I am a loooonnnng way from that possibility. 🙂 But I appreciate the thought. You made me smile.

      your friend,
      Karen

  • Randi says:

    What kind of loom is this? I have heard about the Mirrix loom but it’s kinda spendy if I try tapestry weaving and don’t like it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Randi,
      This loom is handmade. My husband made it for me. GlimakraUSA.com has a loom that is similar to mine, called the Freja tapestry frame, that comes in two sizes. I have a Freja in the smaller size and like it a lot.

      Karen

  • Lenora says:

    I love your tapestry. The level of detail you manage to put into your smaller works really amazes me.

    Can I ask where you got the plastic warp comb/pegs piece on your loom from? The original travel tapestry frame used brads and this looks like a much better solution.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lenora,
      Thank you for mentioning the detail. That is something I am constantly working on improving.

      My husband ordered a certain kind of polyethylene sheet for the comb, and cut the grooves individually with an electric band saw. He wrote out the specifics. I am sending it to your email address.

      You are right, this is an improvement to the brads set up.

      Karen

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