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

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books

I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”

Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.

Some of my favorite weaving books!

Favored weaving books, in no particular order. Do you see a theme? Yes, I like to weave Swedish patterns from Swedish books on my Swedish Glimåkra looms.

Turned rosepath from "The Big Book of Weaving."

Rosepath band with turned rosepath.
Lundell, Laila, and Elisabeth Windesjö. “The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs, and Materials.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2008.

From "Älskade Trasmattor." Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Älskade Trasmattor: att Väva Som Förr.” Kalmar: Akantus, 2006. (“Beloved Rag Rugs: To Weave As Before”)

Rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

My version of this rosepath rag rug makes itself at home in our Texas hill country getaway.

Rosepath rag rug from "Favorite Rag Rugs," by Tina Ignell.

Rosepath rag rug. My very first rosepath rag rug is positioned in a prominent place in our home where it is seen and stepped on every day. Much to my delight.
Ignell, Tina, and Catherine Zienko. “Favorite Rag Rugs: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Books, 2007.

Rosepath rag rug in "Alla Tiders Trasmattor."

Another rosepath rag rug. No end to rosepath rag rug possibilities, it seems.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Alla Tiders Trasmattor.” Akantus Edition, 2007. (“All Time Rag Rugs”)

Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug uses alternating weft colors in the plain weave sections, adding visual texture.

"Stardust" scarf from "Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet."

Called “warp-faced combination weave” in the book. I don’t know what else to call it. I wove this scarf when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing yet. If you see any mistakes, just think of them as “design elements.”
Johansson, Lillemor, Charlotta Bosson, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 2004.

Classic twill towels, from "Simple Weaves," by Björk and Ignell

Cottolin twill towels. I have a small sample piece. All the towels I wove are happily drying hands and dishes in homes of family and friends.
Björk, Birgitta Bengtsson, Tina Ignell, and Bengt Arne Ignell. “Simple Weaves: over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2012.

Double binding rag rug, from "Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs."

Double binding rag rug. This sweet rug is resting in my Etsy shop, waiting for a new home.
Johansson, Lillemor, Pia Wedderien, Marie Rolander, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Swedish Rag Rugs: 35 New Designs.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 1995.

May you play as much music as you can find.

…and speaking of Etsy! The original River Stripe Towels and Table Centerpiece Cloth that I wove are now listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. And there may still be one River Stripe Towel Set Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit (Workshop in a Box) left! UPDATE: THE KIT HAS BEEN SOLD.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • "Blekinges sommarfågel" says:

    You are an inspiration to those who are not able attend weaving courses in Sweden, but successfully forge ahead experimenting guided by the skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts, using high quality, oftentimes fine gauge imported yarn of natural materials. Keep weaving and inspiring others with your blog!

    • Karen says:

      “Blekinges sommarfågel,” The skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts open up a world of possibilities. I love to take a stack of the books and thumb through the pages, just to dream of what I might weave someday.

      Thank you for sending such encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    I’ve lately been thinking about weaving as I think about cooking, and weaving book as I think about cook books.

    While we are learning, we start with something we see in a book or magazine (a recipe) and maybe weave that as it is, or make some small change like color (ingredients.) Maybe we are brave enough to tweak the “recipe” and use a different fiber, or a thicker one or thinner one. Then, once we have the basics down (boiling eggs, steaming rice, mashing potatoes) we can build on that knowledge and compose our own recipes (pattern combinations.)

    Books are inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for YOUR endless inspiration.

Leave a Reply


Weaving Adventure

An idea is merely a collection of thoughts until it begins to take shape. Plans, thinking things through, trial and error, sampling, writing, formatting. That’s what it has been for this Plattväv towel kit. The idea to develop a towel kit is taking shape. Finally. River Stripe Towel Set, a Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit! I am winding the warps now. I have written the instructions. There are still a few loose ends (obviously a weaver’s term) to take care of, but we’re closer to turning this idea into a real thing. Made especially for adventurous weavers.

Winding warps for a towel kit.

Winding one of two bouts for a towel kit.

Warp chain in hand, for towel kits.

Warp chain in hand!

If these kits can inspire a few people to weave their own exceptional adventure, I will call this idea a success!

(If you would like to be notified when the kits are ready, no obligation, please send me an email or let me know in the comments below.)

May your best ideas take shape.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

36 Comments

Leave a Reply


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

Leave a Reply


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

Leave a Reply