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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Now This Year

New year 2017 is beginning! It’s time again to take account of where we stand in our life’s dreams and goals. What can we check off the list? And, what is still in progress? And, maybe there’s something new to add. But first, let me count my blessings. I’m filled with gratitude, thankful for you! What a JOY it is to have friends like you to walk through this weaving journey with me.

Here’s what you’ll find on my looms right now:

Striped cottolin warp for towels.

Glimåkra Ideal loom: Striped warp for the sample kit is all set! Winding quills is next. Then, weaving! If all goes well, a few pre-warped plattväv towel kits will show up in my Etsy shop.

Transparency with linen warp and background weft. Cotton chenille weft inlay.

Glimåkra Standard loom: Weaving a transparency. 16/2 linen warp and background weft. The weft pattern inlay is cotton chenille.

Practice piece on little Hokett loom.

Hokett loom has the start of a simple stripes tapestry practice piece. 12/6 cotton warp, 6/1 Fåro wool weft.

Thank you for joining me through 2016!

May you have joy in the journey.

Happy Weaving New Year,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I love the “Year in Review” and see so many favorites. Your work is simply beautiful and inspiring. You are brimming with talent!

    Happy New Year, Karen!

  • Jennifer says:

    A lovely and inspiring post! I enjoyed the video of your weaving year.

  • Truly Blessed, thanks for all you share.

  • Loyanne says:

    Thanks for sharing. Seeing the Faro piece bring to mind a question. I am working on a Whig Rose scarf. Trying to weave according to tradition and the warp is 8/2, weft is Faro and 16/2 for tabby. Just wondered if you had used cotton and wool and how you wet fingers she’d it ? Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loyanne, I’m sure your scarf is beautiful! The monksbelt does use 16/2 cotton for tabby, and Faro wool for pattern weft. I’m not sure of your question… I have a feeling that spellcheck gremlins took over. Could you try asking again?

      Karen

      • Loyanne says:

        Boy did the gremlins take over. I wondered how you wet finish a piece out of cotton and wool?
        Thanks.

        • Karen says:

          Ok, now that question makes sense. 🙂 That’s a great question! I did not wet finish my piece because I am going to use it for a hanging, so I wanted it to soften up or get distorted through washing. I did steam press it, though, which helped to tighten everything up and straighten it out.

          I think if I were going to wet finish this cotton and wool combination I would gently hand wash in cool water with mild soap, like Eucalan, with as little agitation as possible. And then hang or lay flat to dry. If I had a sample piece, I would try washing that first, before submerging the main article.

          I wish I could give you a better answer…

          Thanks for asking,
          Karen

  • Fran says:

    A year of accomplishing lots! You do black and white especially well. I enjoy your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran, The black and white was a new experience for me. It was a surprise to me to find out how much I enjoyed working with it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    I just joined in on your posts! It’s part of my goals for 2017 to surround myself with others who love weaving, and to be inspired and motivated to continue learning from them. Thanks for having this blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, A big welcome to you! I do love weaving, and you will find many who comment here are the same way. I love it that we can all learn from each other.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I enjoyed seeing your transparency, because I have used the same 16/2 linen to weave pictorial transparencies for the last 10 years or so. Is your sett 12 epi? How many selvedge warps are doubled on each side? I have never tried using chenille for the inlay, but this gives me a new idea to try!
    Happy New Year, and God bless you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I’m excited to hear that you weave pictorial transparencies! This is my first attempt, and I’m enjoying it very much. I would love to see some of your work. Can you send me pictures?

      I am using a metric 50/10 reed, which is just a little more dense than 12 epi, but pretty close. I doubled 4 selvedge warps on each side, as instructed in The Big Book of Weaving.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen, Happy New Year! Thank you so much for all the work you do for us, your posts are always beautiful and informative. I have been sick for a bit but I can’t wait to get back to my loom soon.
    Happy weaving,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, It’s no fun to be under the weather. I hope you’re all better very soon!

      I always appreciate your sweet encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Tom Z says:

    The year in review is so Inspiring Karen!

    Sometimes we don’t look back to view where we’ve come from. We just keep plowing forward. The past gives us a much needed perspective on where we’re going. Your video reminded me of that simple face. And the music was perfect for that reflection.

    Thank you Karen. Keep up the ‘good’ work.
    Happy weaving new year!
    Tom Z in IL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom,
      I completely agree! Perspective can make a world of difference.
      I appreciate your thoughtful words so much!

      Happy weaving new year to you!
      Karen

  • Pat McNew says:

    I love your web page. I look forward to each one. I have learned a lot from you even tho I have been weaving for about 12 years.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pat, This is such a sweet thing for you to say! It’s my goal to be a help to others, so I’m thrilled to hear you’ve learned some things here.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to spread a little kindness. 🙂
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs and More

The sample piece, a long rug and a short rug with string yarn, and a short rag rug. I look on these results with fondness. A challenge and a joy to weave! The two string yarn rugs will have bound hems when I get a chance to do that. I have world map fabric for the hems. The sample piece and the rag rug piece are destined to become cute bags. I have all the supplies–band loom-woven strap, and yarn to make a band loom-woven strap, lining material, and a handwoven remnant to use as inside pockets. Now, all I need is time. And we all have as much as we need of that.

Dressing the Loom

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with Fabric Strips for Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with Stringyarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with Fabric Strips for Weft

Making a rag rug bag. Strap woven on band loom. Karen Isenhower

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft, make bound hems.

Eight-Shaft Block Twill Rugs with String yarn Weft, making bound hems.

Making cute bag from sample piece of 8-shaft block twill weave.

In case you needed a smile today!

In case you needed a smile today. Our dear Lucia Annabella.

May you have all the time you need.

All the best to you, my dear friends,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Julia says:

    That is one beautiful Lucia Annabella! And some delightful weaving. My mother use to tell me, “You have all the time there is.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,
      As any grandmother would, I have to agree with you about Lucia Annabella. I love your mother’s words of wisdom. It would be well for all of us to remember that. Thank you for your kind words!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Gabriela says:

    Thank you, Karen. So lovely.

  • Barbara says:

    We all have time for what is important. I can choose what to put first in my life. You have placed God first and it shows in every other aspect of your life.

  • Denise says:

    Karen,
    I’m hoping you can help me, again, by giving me an idea of how much string garn it might take for a lovely rug such as the pink one shown here. Thanks in advance for your help–especially as you have other things on your mind.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Denise, It’s no trouble at all! I can tell you how much string yarn I used in total– for the sample, long rug, and short rug, and I’ll let you do the math for the length of rug you want to make. 🙂

      Lengths: Sample 17cm, Long rug 115.5cm, Short rug 42.5cm
      Midi string yarn 500m/kilo; 250g/125m per tube (#124 Dusty Coral from Vavstuga.com)
      Total yarn used: 4 tubes, with about 2-3m leftover

      I hope that helps!
      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    From one grandma to another…
    Although everything you make is just beautiful, little Lucia Annabella shines even brighter 🙂

    Love, Elisabeth

  • Angie says:

    Pictures speak a thousand words! I really enjoy seeing your weaving process and all the lovely items you make, and the beautiful grandbaby.

    As you are a weaver that gets good use from your Glimakra, may I ask where you rest your feet when not pressing a treadle? I’m almost ready to bring one into my home and while I’ve sat at one I haven’t woven more than a pass or two on it. I have a Norwood Jack loom and just slide my feet to the base of the treadle when switching. Of course, a Standard is set up differently. Thanks for your advice and any tips you may have for my Glimakra contemplation.

    • Karen says:

      Angie, First, thank you for your very sweet words. That means a lot to me!

      Glimakra? You said the magic word. 🙂 I am extremely happy with my 2 Glimakra looms, Ideal and Standard. It is all I have woven on, so I don’t have anything to compare them to.
      The Standard has a foot rest directly under the breast beam. It’s in the perfect spot for resting your feet when not pressing a treadle.

      Here are some resources I highly recommend for Glimakra loom weavers:

      Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, GlimakraUSA.com
      Tying Up the Countermarch Loom, by Joanne Hall, GlimakraUSA.com
      The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com
      Dress Your Loom the Vavstuga Way: A Benchside Photo Guide, Vavstuga.com
      Dress Your Loom the Swedish Way DVD, Becky Ashenden, GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com
      Vavstuga Basics class at Vavstuga

      Please let me know if you have any more questions as you get going with your Glimakra Standard. I predict that you will love it!!

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Na says:

    Your photos including all of your finishing ideas are very helpful! Would you tell me what part of the world you are in? Just curious–since you use meters, etc.!! Grand babies are beautiful everywhere–even when they grow up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Na, I’m an oddball from Texas. Houston, Texas. I like to use metric for weaving — makes the calculations simpler. Also, I primarily use Swedish drafts, so I have gotten used to using metric measurements from the Swedish weaving books I have.

      Yes, grandbabies any age are the best everywhere in the world.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Gerda Hoogenboom says:

    Thank you, Karen, for all the clear pictures and inspiration. Now I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be pictures (or even a video) of the process of binding a rug with fabric. I wonder how you reinforce the rug before sewing the binding on, and how long a cloth binding would last on a rug. It is not a quilt, after all. Every one of your posts teaches me things and leads me to ask questions I had not anticipated. The mark of a true teacher! Looking forward to seeing the finished products (on Etsy?). Greetings from France, Gerda

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Gerda, You have great questions! I can answer some of them by referring you to previous posts. But first, I want to say that’s a terrific idea to do a video tutorial of making a bound hem on a rug! Thanks for the suggestion. I think I will do that.

      (Click on the links)
      How to bind a rug with fabric: How I Make a Bound Hem
      How to reinforce the rug before sewing the binding on: Tools Day: Rag Rug Finishing Video
      How long a cloth binding lasts on a rug: I made this rug a few years ago that sits in our front hallway and is walked on every day. Blue Twill Rag Rug

      I don’t know if the items will show up on Etsy, but I will try to remember to show the pieces here when they are finished.

      Happy weaving from Houston to France,
      Karen

      • Gerda says:

        Thanks Karen for taking the time to give real answers and even to index your previous posts for me. Please remember, we do not actually deserve that much of your time! But I am gratefully reading the posts and learning. Hopefully absorbing enough to avoid crucial mistakes. Thanks again!

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Make a Handwoven Something

There is less than a yard of this lovely fabric. I want to use it for something. After weaving the baby wrap, I wove off the remainder of the warp in twill, using multiple weft colors. The colors seem even more vibrant in this twill weave. The fabric feels great in hand, as well. Is there enough to make a handbag? Just barely; but, yes, there is enough!

Making a handbag from handwoven fabric.

After ironing interfacing to the back of the fabric, I work the puzzle of fitting the pattern pieces onto the fabric. Some piecing is necessary.

Making lining for a handbag.

Lining pieces have pockets added.

Making a handbag from handwoven fabric.

Topstitching goes all around the top perimeter of the handbag.

How do you feel about cutting into your handwoven fabric? Once you cut, there’s no turning back. You better be sure before you get out the scissors. Fear of ruining your precious fabric can keep you from ever making the first cut. You might be tempted to fold up your fabric and tuck it away in a drawer. “At least you didn’t ruin it,” your fear would tell you. However, if you know something good will come of it, and if you have a plan, you walk past the fear and do the cutting.

Finished handwoven handbag holds rolled baby wrap. Karen Isenhower

Finished handbag holds the rolled baby wrap.

Handwoven handbag. Karen Isenhower

Handbag front is mostly twill, with five different weft colors. The warp length is crosswise in this piece.

Handbag made from handwoven fabric.

Back of the handbag. The lining fabric is cut from a remnant left from an Easter dress I made my daughter umpteen years ago.

The peace of Christ takes the power out of fear. Instead of looking at the status quo as the only option, internal peace enables us to walk past the fear. His peace enables us to do things that require faith. Fear fades when you know that the one who is truly good does have a plan. After all, handwoven fabric is made for such a use as this.

May you do things that require faith.

Making things,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Beautiful bag! Would you be willing to share the pattern?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Betsy! I’m glad you like it.

      I don’t have the pattern in a shareable format. It’s one I designed and drew on brown paper.
      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • linda says:

    Great Idea!!! linda

  • Janet says:

    Great idea!! Thanks for the idea…I have yet to cut my fabric and sew something. Perhaps I can work up my confidence this year 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, It does take a level of confidence. I think if you can weave it, you can sew it. It’s a satisfying experience. I hope you give it a try!

      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    What a nice bag. As I looked closely at the pictures, I saw you had a zipper for the bag opening and I was impressed. Then, I noticed that you also have a zippered pocket! Talk about raising the bar. I love your attention to detail.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy,
      Thank you for noticing!
      It’s the details that set something apart as a handcrafted item. I like zippers.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Halvdräll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdräll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdräll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Charlene says:

    What a lovely review of your year’s weaving work.

    A large and beautiful body of work.

    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Dear Karen,
    Thank you for seeing such beauty in life and sharing it with us! This was a very inspiring way to start a new year!

    Happy New Year!
    Elisabeth

  • Betsy says:

    Karen
    Happy New Year! I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to new posts.
    Warmest Wishes
    Betsy

  • fran says:

    Always nice to see what you are up to! Best wishes for 2016.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Happy New Year Karen,

    I hope it is a wonderful year for you!
    Liberty

  • linda says:

    Your tapestry of the child is wonderful. It has given me so much pleasure to see how your weaving has become so absolutely gorgeous. I’ve has so much fun watching all the love you’ve put into your weaving. The article was a cherry on top of the most delicious desert anyone could have dreamed of.
    I still can’t believe all the time you devote, how quickly you work, and how “perfect “it all is. I hope 2016 is even more bountiful for you and more joyful. lp&j LINDA

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