Quiet Friday: Linen Upholstery Fabric

Do you dream of making upholstery fabric? I do. There are four chair seats at our Texas hill country home that I want to re-cover. Now I have custom upholstery fabric!

Linen on the cloth beam.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

Cutting off never loses its excitement! I have one long piece of yardage, with no separations or divisions.

Cutting off! Linen upholstery fabric.

Cutting off! Linen.

New linen fabric.

Light through the linen fabric. Cutting off!

Tie-on bar as linen fabric is unrolled.

Just off the loom, the hefty linen fabric (8/2 linen, warp and weft) is stiff and unyielding. Will this window-screen material make suitable upholstery that’s soft enough to sit on? Yet, even in this state, the linen beckons and intrigues.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

First, the edges are serged. I check for weaving errors, finding none. There are spliced warp ends in five places, which are trimmed.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

I make a large tube by basting the two ends of the yardage together, to reduce twisting in the wash. The washing machine (top loader) works as a soaking tub first. The linen slowly soaks up water in the tub, relaxing there for an hour or two. Then it’s time to wash and dry. The first time, I omit the spin cycle and remove it from the dryer while still damp, to prevent permanent creasing.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

And then, I wash and dry the yardage again.

New handwoven fabric after second wash.

Custom handwoven linen upholstery fabric!

Talk about softening up! Oh, I wish you could be here to handle it with me! This is dreamy linen fabric, perfect for sitting.

Just woven custom linen upholstery fabric.

May your fabric dreams come true.

Happy weaving,
Karen

24 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    What a great project! What sett did you use and how much shrinkage did you get with washing and drying. I have some dining room chairs that I want to recover. Your project may be the “kick” that I need to go from dreaming to doing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, So I’m not the only one who thinks of weaving fabric to recover chairs…
      The sett is 15 epi. I haven’t done the final measuring yet. I’ll report back later today with the shrinkage after I’ve done that.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, I have the shrinkage figures for you.

      I had 12% shrinkage in width and about 15% shrinkage in length. The fabric was washed in warm water and dried on a medium setting.

      Karen

      • Betsy says:

        Karen
        Thank you for the info. That will help in my planning. I was just looking at a book by Ann Sutton called Color and Weave Design that has handreds of designs. They are all in black and white yarn and the book is arranged like pages of gamps.

        Betsy

        • Karen says:

          Betsy, Sounds like a fascinating book. I’ll have to look that up.

          Send me a picture (Karen @ warpedforgood . com) when you get something going. I’d enjoy seeing what you come up with.

          Karen

          • Betsy says:

            Karen
            My current project is to make a jacket to through on on summer evenings. I’ve just wound a warp with 3/2 cotton for sampling. I’ll move on to upholstery fabric after I finish the jacket.
            Betsy

  • Shari says:

    Absolutely lovely! It looks like two colors. What colors did you use. Looks like grey or brown. What’s the weave structure? 4 or 8? Absolutely lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, This is 8/2 line linen, unbleached and golden bleached. The look of natural linen is pleasing! Four shaft plain weave, with color and weave effect. Only two treadles! This was relatively fast and easy weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Love linen (having learned to spin on it decades ago) I really need to get my looms going. Thanks to your examples and encouragement.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin, especially linen! I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling prompted to get weaving looms going. That makes me smile!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful Karen! I have a padded piano bench that was my mothers that I have been wanting to recover and this is the inspiration that I needed to get going.

    I’ll take any opportunity to work with linen and I just love the combination of unbleached and golden. I’m wondering if a shadow and weave pattern would also work with this color combination of linen. The pattern might be more subtle, but could be interesting!

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, How lovely to weave fabric for your piano bench! I think this weight linen will work well for seat and piano bench covers.
      The unbleached and golden linen give only a subtle pattern, so if you want the pattern to be more noticeable, you’d want higher contrast in the colors. I don’t have experience with shadow weave, so I’m probably not the best one to ask about that.

      I’d love to see what you come up with!

      And, yay!, another weaving upholstery dreamer…

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen,
    Your fabric came out beautifully (LOVE it)–I do so want to touch it! Do you have to do any special handling while weaving with linen (I have no experience with linen)? And how do you handle the fabric from the washer without using the spin cycle? Isn’t it heavy and dripping with water?

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Linen works best with a little extra care, but I find it a special pleasure to weave with linen. I have a sidebar with tips for linen in my Dice Weave Pillows project in Jan/Feb 2016 Handwoven.

      Generally, you want good, even tension across the warp as you beam the warp. Avoid abrasion as much as possible, for which a temple is helpful. And, sometimes a little moisture will help if you have warp ends breaking.

      Near the end of the rinse cycle I stand at the washing machine and listen for the water to drain out. When it sounds like the last little bit has drained and the spin has started, I stop the machine. If there is still too much water in the fabric at that point, I even out the yardage, untwisting and unfolding it as much as possible and then turn it on and let it just barely spin. That gets enough water out so it’s not dripping wet, and I can to move it to the dryer.

      For smaller pieces, like towels, I don’t mind if they are wet and dripping. I roll them in dry towels to remove moisture before putting them in the dryer, or laying them flat to dry.

      By the way, this piece of linen yardage is heavy even when dry. When I first pulled it out of the washer it was really heavy!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Libby says:

    Hi Karen,
    This is just beautiful! What a good idea to cover your chairs, I’ve done that many times over the years, but yours will be so nice. I can’t wait to see them done!!
    Libby

  • Hi Karen,
    In 1991 my mother-in-law was going through her attic and handed me some yardage that her mother wove on a loom made by her father. It was of pearl cotton with one in a birds eye weave of red and cream. I put them away because the fabrics had no purpose in my house hold with young children

    When we put together a weekend home I used one of the pieces to cover second hand dining room chairs. The result proves the rule to use beautiful things.

    Your beautiful newly covered chairs will give you years of enjoyment.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Oh how wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s great that you were able to put that special fabric to good use.

      I look forward to putting these chair seats together and sharing my enjoyment of them with my family and friends. It’s a great way to be able to see and feel the handwoven fabric in daily living.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Doris says:

    Hi Karen
    You have woven a very wonderful fabric, that certainly gives great chairs
    Kind regards
    Doris

  • Elisabeth says:

    This fabric is gorgeous! Such a pleasant weight linen and the beautiful suble texture and pattern really adds to its beauty!
    I strongly believe that surrounding ourselves with things made with passion and love, and out of quality materials do something to us. I am convinced that the qualities put into it by the maker follow the item and is sensed by the user. It is so satisfying to touch, use, and take care of things like these. And they age so beautifully 🙂
    Thank you for so generously sharing your passion!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, You have a way with words. I enjoy hearing your thoughts—so rich and insightful. I agree, it is immensely satisfying to surround ourselves with beautiful things that are made by hand, with love mixed in.

      Happy weaving, friend,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Anticipation in the Final Stretch!

I can see the end of the warp! Finishing is in sight. And then, my daughter phones, “Mom! I’m headed to the hospital. This baby is ready!” Weaving suddenly becomes far less important… That was two weeks ago, and little Ari was born. Now, back at the loom, I’ll cross the finish line on this linen upholstery fabric before the day is over.

End of warp is near.

End of warp is seen on the back tie-on bar as it makes its final round on the warp beam.

Cotton double weave baby blanket covers newborn grandson.

Double weave cotton baby blanket covers baby Ari as he peacefully sleeps.

When the back tie-on bar becomes visible, it’s the beginning of the end. And then, the moment the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I celebrate. It’s the final stretch!

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Over the back beam, and lease sticks are removed.

Lease sticks are untied and removed after the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam. Two pairs of lease sticks were used with this striped warp.

We are participants in a great mystery! Christ in us. For those unfamiliar with the tools and methods of handweaving, it’s a mystery how threads can become cloth. But the handweaver knows. The great mystery of God is that Christ may dwell in us. For those who receive him, the peace of Christ rules within. His presence is woven in.

Short distance left to weave this linen fabric!

Short distance left to finish weaving this linen fabric.

The anticipation of finished cloth is nothing in relation to the anticipation of a new baby in the family. Imagine the anticipation of our holy Father to see the glorious threads of Christ woven in us.

May you participate in the mystery.

Happy weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautiful weaving, beautiful baby, beautiful Savior!

    Congratulations!

    God bless you and your family.

    Linda Cornell

  • Kay Larson says:

    Thank you for your blog. I love reading it each day with my breakfast. What a beautiful baby. Congratulations. You double weave blanket is lovely. What yarn did you use if I may ask? Many blessings to you and your family. God’s peace.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It’s an honor to think of sharing breakfast time with you!
      The double weave blanket is 8/2 cotton, warp and weft. The sett was 5 ends per cm (about 12 epi), each layer, which is a loose sett, almost gauzy.

      All the best blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Congrats on the beautiful grandson! Enjoy your blog.
    Linda

  • Annie says:

    Congratulations to you and your family on Ari’s arrival! Babies bring their own welcome.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, how can you think about anything else but Ari!!! What a beautiful boy! What a blessing for you and your family!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I don’t live in the same city as Ari, otherwise I would be cooing over him instead of sitting at the loom. 🙂 He is a good-lookin’ baby boy, that’s for sure. I’m pretty biased, as I should be.

      Thanks for sharing your sentiments!
      Karen

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW too cute Karen, what a joy! Congratulations. Love that God sees each new Christian with the same joy. I love the blanket around Ari.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, Yes, what a wonderful thought… that God welcomes each trust-er in Jesus as a new family member.
      The blanket suits Ari pretty well.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Cynthi says:

    I love all your pics including that cute baby. Makes you want to kiss those cheeks off.

  • tsw says:

    Congratulations to your family on the new arrival!
    I noticed the double lease sticks and was wondering why you used them double. I’ve never seen that before. Is there an advantage? Special circumstance that benefits from them? Thanks in advance.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, Thanks! Good eye to notice the double lease sticks. I mention the subject in this post: Simpler Warp Stripes. Basically, I had two separate warp chains, each with their own lease sticks, in order to put narrow stripes on the loom without having to cut and tie all the color changes while winding the warp.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


What the Shadow Reveals

Sometimes things do not go as you hope or expect. I thought this color-and-weave effect would be more distinct. Yes, I chose low-contrast colors. I wanted the pattern to be subtle. But this may be too subtle. I have to use my imagination to see anything other than a faint checked pattern. It’s not a complaint. It’s just not how I thought it was supposed to be.

Linen on the loom.

All 8/2 linen. Stripes in the warp and stripes in the weft. I intended more than a simple check pattern.

I am taking pictures from all different angles, thinking the camera lens might show more than I can see with my eye.

Warp and weft stripes in linen.

Detail of warp and weft stripes. A simple, yet pleasing pattern.

Weaving 8/2 linen upholstery fabric.

Crosswise view.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

View at an angle. No significant difference.

And, to my great surprise, there it is! The pattern I am hoping for shows up when I snap a photo of the underside. What happened? It’s all in the lighting. In this case, I need shadows to reveal the pattern in the weave.

Color-and-weave effects in linen upholstery fabric.

Pattern shows up underneath.

Color-and-weave patterns in linen.

Same fabric, different look. This is what I intended all along. Hidden in the shadows.

Shadow reveals the pattern in this linen color and weave.

To test my hypothesis about the shadows, I cup my hand over the fabric. Where a shadow is formed the pattern is revealed.

Endure. When you walk through shadows of life, the patterns that are woven in you become evident. If you depend on the Lord’s might to walk through and endure day-by-day challenges, that same power will be with you when you walk into a major shadow and need endurance the most. In fact, it is in that shadow that the image of Christ is most clearly seen in you.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Trick of the light! I love this.

  • cuyler says:

    Amazing! Thanks for the excellent photos. That really helps understand your point, and view.

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is when walking through the shadows of life we learn to see things in depth, it is almort like you experience life without a filter…it is raw, real, painful, yet beautiful at the same time… beauiful in the presense of wonder. Your pictures so well illustrate the beauty present in the shadows, as well as a great reminder not to fear the difficult times! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth, yes, beauty can be found in the shadows. It’s not easy to remember that when you’re going through a hard time.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Simpler Warp Stripes

Narrow stripes on the warp beam are stunning. But to wind a warp like that means frequently cutting threads and tying knots. Right? …not necessarily! You don’t have to wind a warp with stripes in order to have a striped warp on the loom. I didn’t know that. I thought that tying knots is the price you pay to get warp stripes. Winding this warp was a breeze! The secret? A separate warp chain and set of lease sticks for each color. I combined the threads, keeping them in proper order, as I put them on the back tie-on bar. That part was a little tricky, but will only get easier with practice.

Stripes on the warp beam are so enticing! Linen.

Unbleached and golden bleached linen pair up for this striped warp.

Knowledge. Knowledge gives us freedom to do things in a new way. This is why prayer is effective. Not praying for so-and-so to change, but asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And then, God takes it from there. Your prayer may be what it takes to initiate a new outlook on life for someone else. Much like finding a different way to put stripes on the loom.

May you find a new way to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Beautiful!
    Question: So…2 warps, one color on each set of lease sticks. You held them and spread the correct number of threads for each stripe? Sliding the remainder of the warp over til the next counted out stripe…and kept them on the 2 setts of lease sticks, but ended up with those lease sticks held together and tied on to the back rod together?

    Sounds like a lot of good possibility. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Yes, that’s close to what I did. Alice-Ann’s comment below mentions putting dowels the ends of the warp chains. I did that, except I used warping slats because they were handy.

      There is great possibility with this. I am certainly going to explore it more on future projects!

      Thanks for starting a conversation,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    I’ve avoided warp stripes like the plague, although I’ve wound them at Vavstuga. Still can’t wrap my brain around your method, though I’ve done it on the rigid heddle. Must ponder 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I’ve done it twice, now, so I think I can do it again with more confidence. I will bring any new insights or procedures here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

    OK, I followed some of that and think I see it the way Karen does. But I think maybe the lease sticks are place in the usual positions, not wound on? Add x amount of one color off the end of the warp chain and slip them on the back bar, get the amount of color #2 from warp chain #2 and slip them off that end of warp and onto the back bar. Correct? I think I might place a dowel in the ends of each chain just to keep them straight instead of having to reach all the way to the lease sticks to get the correct ones. I can see that the stripes would have to be an even number if you don’t want to cut and tie. Very clever, we need a little video!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice-Ann, I am still figuring out specific procedures for doing this, but your description is pretty close to what I did. I moved all the threads to a separate dowel first, 4 from chain #1, and 4 from chain #2, and so on. After that, I moved them to the tie-on bar. That made it a little easier to deal with separations between beam cords.

      The stripes do need to be even numbers (pass pairs), but the numbers in each warp chain can vary. On the first project, I had narrow stripes between wider stripes. You have to plan the spacing for spreading the warp, but it wasn’t a problem.

      Also, I’d like to attempt putting all the ends on a single set of lease sticks, but I was too chicken to try that this time around.

      A video is a great idea! Perhaps on my next stripes project. 🙂

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

      • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

        Thanks Karen. My brain did not want to cope with taking 4 threads off one warp, then 4 off another and at the same time putting them on the back bar. Doing the stripe size choice before putting it all on the back beam might be a bit more work, but makes perfect sense to me! One could even sit at a table with the two (or more) warps being supported. The balancing act was not working in my head. Not on the first try anyway. I would make a mess even with both sets of lease sticks tied to the loom. I am liking this more and more. I can hardly wait for the video!

  • SM says:

    Could you also just wind separate warps and pre-sley them into their stripes? Or am I misunderstanding what’s been said?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Yes, you can wind separate warp chains and pre-sley them into the pre-sley reed in order. That is what I did, putting a stick through the end loops of each warp after it is pre-sleyed. The tricky part comes after that in getting all the end loops onto the tie-on bar. With one warp chain, you can flip the reed over the lease sticks to get all the end loops to pull out. With two sets of lease sticks, I had to do more “hand picking” and there are more sticks and things poking around to have to manage.

      It’s not easy to describe the process in words. I think a video is in order…as soon as I figure it out a little better myself. 😉

      Thanks for joining the conversation,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    Oh! I get it! Sorry about that. For some reason my brain wasn’t registering that you were all talking about the END loops…even though that’s what everyone said. . Yes, now I can see where that would be a factor. Thanks for walking me through this; I would love a video! I just wound a thin-striped warp and it was not fun with all the starting and stopping. Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      SM, Don’t worry, it’s confusing to begin with.

      I have wound many, many striped warps, and I don’t really mind it that much. But still, this new method will probably be a game changer for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Anticipation Is Looming!

Everything starts on paper and in my mind. And then the action begins! Warps are ready now to dress two more looms. One in linen, and one in cotton. Linen for chair-seat upholstery, and cotton for kitchen towels.

Counting linen warp ends on the warping reel.

Counting thread goes over and under groups of warp ends (in this case, 40 ends) to help me keep track of the number of ends being wound on the warping reel. 8/2 linen, unbleached.

Cotton thread is measured out on the warping reel.

Solid color cotton is wound (measured out) on the warping reel.

These are part of the coordinating textiles I’ve been designing for our Texas hill country home. (See Awaken the Empty Looms)  I am looking forward to the moment these fabrics become visible! The anticipation is electric! I will know the success of my plans when I can see and feel the fabric. Every step, including getting these threads ready for the loom, gives me a preview glimpse of the actual fabric to come.

Two linen warp chains, ready for dressing the loom.

Two warp chains are prepared. This is a striped warp, and the chains will be spread separately, each with its own set of lease sticks.

Three warp chains of 8/2 cotton, ready to dress the loom!

Nothing like big, soft warp chains of 8/2 cotton!

Visible. Actual love is visible. It’s much more than kind thoughts and intentions. It is threads of kind thoughts that become touchable fabric in someone else’s life. Jesus Christ is the love of God made visible, in that God sent His Son so that we could fully live. How appropriate for us to make such a fabric visible for each other.

May you get a glimpse of the fabric to come.

Love,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I can see that you have been quite busy!. The work you do to make a beautiful Handwoven home for your family is definitely love in action. Generations will treasure your creations.

    I didn’t realize that linen was a good upholstery thread. I have only used cottolin and that has been for towels. I am waiting until I purchase a multi shaft loom before trying linen as I have been told the rigid Heddle loom will not keep enough tension. I rather like the natural colors.

    I hope you have a blessed day, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, Linen is such a pleasure to work with, and the natural colors are so restful. You could use linen for weft on your rigid heddle loom. Many times I’ve done a cotton or cottolin warp and linen weft.

      I don’t actually know if linen makes a good upholstery fabric, but thought I would try it. This is a heavier thread – 8/2 line linen. I have a small piece from a couple years ago that I wove in 8/2 linen and I like the weight of it.

      Your friend,
      Karen

Leave a Reply