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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What a Cellist Weaves

I approach weaving like a musician. The looms are instruments, and everything is practice. When I was twelve years old I fell in love with the ‘cello and began learning to play the instrument. Over time, I discovered the value of mindful practice, the need for which is ongoing. It’s not perfection I’m after, but intent to apply all I’ve learned.

Glimakra band loom.

Finished woven band. 12/6 cotton for warp and 16/1 linen for weft.

Band loom woven cord for cello endpin stop.

Small slider is added to make the cord’s length adjustable.

This once, my weaving and ‘cello playing overlap. My husband designed this cello endpin stop for me! I got to weave a cord on my band loom that connects the pieces together. (I showed you the beginning steps in Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord.)

Hand-crafted cello endpin stop, with handwoven band.

Hand-crafted ‘cello endpin stop.

Hand-crafted cello endpin stop.

‘Cello and me.

What if our interactions with people are opportunities to practice real love? It’s no big deal if I love those who love me. Or, do good when I know someone will return the favor. Or, lend to someone who will pay me back. Real love is loving those who don’t love you back. That takes practice. When we love, do good, and give, expecting nothing in return, we start to resemble God’s character. No, we won’t attain His perfection, but when we apply all He’s taught us, we begin to look like His children. For He loved us long before we loved Him back.

May you practice real love.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

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Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord

I need a strong cord for a specific use. It needs to look nice, without drawing attention to itself. This cord will connect three small pieces of wood. I will reveal how they will be used after I finish weaving the cord.

Three wooden pieces for a special purpose...

Three wooden pieces to be connected for a purpose. What are they for? You are welcome to put your guess in the comments…

I chose 12/6 rug warp for the project, to make this a durable cord. With a band this narrow, the 12/6 cotton is too bulky for weft. I could not pull the selvedges tight. I need a finer weft that will draw the warp ends together and disappear at the selvedges. Black 16/1 linen works beautifully!

New woven narrow band. Need to change the weft.

Using 12/6 cotton rug warp for the weft proved to be unworkable for this narrow band. Light shows through the gaps at the selvedges.

Linen weft for this narrow band.

Black linen weft matches the black selvedge threads. The 16/1 linen enables tight and even selvedges for this 5/16″ (8 mm) band.

A change of heart changes everything. The condition of our heart is revealed in the way we behave toward others. Our thoughts and actions are a matter of the heart. To live in a manner that is unselfish, generous, kind, and content, we must do more than line up the right outward appearances. We must start with humility. Having the perfect warp means nothing if the weft interferes with a beautiful outcome. Humility, like the linen weft, is a posture of the heart that pulls everything else together.

May your heart be beautiful.

Warmly,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I can’t guess what the wooden pieces are for. They remind me of several times when I purchased a used loom from someone, and there were several wooden or metal pieces that came with it that neither they nor I knew what they were for. I am glad you know what these are for, and I am looking forward to finding out!

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Making Hanging Tabs for Towels

It’s this kind of detail that takes a handcrafted item up a notch. A hanging tab made from a handwoven band is more than an accent for a handwoven hand towel. The small hanging tab, mostly unnoticed, adds a statement: This towel has a purpose. It is meant to be placed where it will be used.

How to Make Hanging Tabs for Towels from a Handwoven Band:

  • Mark cutting lines on the woven band. My lines are 4 1/4″ apart.
  • Zigzag forward and back on both sides of the marked lines, leaving room for cutting apart.

Zigzag between hanging tabs.

Making hanging tabs for towels.

  • Cut the band apart at the marked lines, between the zigzag rows.

Hanging tabs, cut apart for towels.

  • Decide where and how to place the hanging tab.

Trying different versions of hanging tabs.

One style of hanging tab for handwoven towel.

Handwoven band for hanging tab on towels.

Loop for hanging tab on towel. Handwoven band.

  • Position the tab, and push the zigzagged ends to the fold inside the pressed and folded towel hem. Pin or clip in place.

Adding handwoven band to hand towel.

  • Stitch the towel hem, securely catching the ends of the hanging tab.

Adding hanging tab to handwoven towel.

Finished handwoven linen-cotton towel with hanging tab.

  • Use the towel. Enjoy!

Handwoven towels being used!

Your prayers matter. Pray a blessing on your children and grandchildren. Your prayers add a detail to their lives that sets them apart. The blessing we ask is that they know the Lord. That they will call on the Lord. That they will say they belong to the Lord. Ultimately, our prayer is for the Lord to place them where they live out the purpose for which he has designed them.

May your prayers reach the heart of God.

With purpose,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Cate says:

    What are those very nifty clips you are using to hold your tabs/hem in place for sewing?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cate, They are fabric clips. I found these nifty clips in the quilting section at Hobby Lobby. They work better than pins in so many situations.

      Karen

  • Gabriela says:

    Beautiful photographic study of geometric forms. Lines, angles, shading, colors…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gabriela, What a nice compliment! Thank you! That gives this another level of interest – an artist’s view.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    You have such an amazing sense for design and color! And your weaving is out of this world! Funny expression! Plus, I recognize the towel rack in the bathroom! Lovely!
    Shari

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, I like the idea of being out of this world! haha Ah yes, that towel rack is one of my best finds from IKEA.

      Your friend,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    I love your hanging tabs and have been inspired to put them on some of my towels in the future.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, That’s wonderful! To tell the truth, I didn’t start out putting hanging tabs on towels. After I figured out how useful they are in our home, I raided my inkle and band weaving stash and added tabs to all my handwoven towels that didn’t already have one. 🙂

      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you again for teaching us a new weaving tip & and leading us in wisdom.
    Psalm 90:12-17 “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom…..Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory……” (NLT)

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    Well I guess now I need to get an inkle loom! Maybe my Bob can make me one! Something new!!
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I don’t think you would be sorry. I have enjoyed many years of weaving pleasure with my inkle loom. All those times when people asked what I was making… haha …nothing in particular.

      Have a great weekend,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Plattväv Towels and Thanksgiving Prayer

Start to finish, the plattväv towels have been a handweaver’s joy. Narrow stripes on the warp beam are strangely invigorating. Does it take extra effort to wind a warp with many stripes? Yes–cut off one color and tie on a new color, over and over. But when the loom is dressed and ready to go, the weaving is a breeze. Being cottolin, the warp is fully compliant; and with a little care, the linen weft becomes a weaver’s friend. Plattväv, the icing on the cake, gives me a simple pattern weft that dresses up these plain weave towels. (And, yes, I am in the process of developing a kit for these plattväv towels.)

Planning handwoven towels.

Cottolin warp with counting cord.

Striped warp for plattväv towels.

Threading the loom for plattväv towels.

Tying up treadles the easy way.

Weft auditions for plattväv towels.

Plattväv towels on the loom, with linen weft.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Blue linen pattern weft.

Beautiful blue linen pattern weft.

Plattväv towels coming off the loom!

Off the loom and ready for trimming threads.

Band loom weaving.

Plattväv towels ready to roll!

Plattväv towels. Karen Isenhower

The joy of weaving is a blessing, as is the joy of friendships across the miles. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Thanksgiving prayer: Thank you, Lord, for everything.

May you overflow with blessings and reasons for giving thanks.

Thankful for you,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    These towels are just beautiful. Thank you for all the work you do to help us with our weaving. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

  • Martha says:

    Love the photo of the towels rolled up- very interesting to view. Beautiful work as always.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, The linen is predominant in these towels, and linen begs to be rolled. I had fun playing around with them to take pictures.
      Thanks for your kind words!

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

  • Anne says:

    I will definitely be interested win the kit! Beautiful!

  • Theresa says:

    The towels are lovely. I too will be watching out for kit information.
    I’m wondering if hemp would be worth a whirl in place of linen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theresa, I’m excited about putting the kit together. It’s good to know you are keeping an eye on it.
      I have never woven with hemp. From what I’ve heard, it weaves much like linen. So I’m certain it would work for this.
      I love the Bockens and the Borgs Swedish linen, so I haven’t branched out much in that regard.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine, Thank you so much!

      If you’re interested, there are a couple of these towels in my Etsy shop, as well as “Workshop in a Box” kits, where you can weave these towels for yourself.

      All the best,
      Karen

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