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: Kuvikas to Taqueté and video

The color is rich, the drape is fluid, and the pattern in the lustrous cloth is eye-catching. “Kuvikas to taqueté” was not an easy project. Eight shafts, double treadling, and double-bobbin shuttles with slick 8/2 Tencel weft. But the fabric is incredible!

Warp chain of 8/2 cotton.

Warp chain of 8/2 cotton hanging from warping reel.

Thanks to a unusual tie-up, two treadles are pressed simultaneously, something I had not thought possible for a countermarch loom. I started with kuvikas (summer and winter), which has tabby picks between the pattern picks. The dark teal 8/2 cotton tabby weft and the bright teal Tencel pattern weft produce a tone-on-tone effect for the square and stripe patterns. These two pieces will become the front and back of a throw pillow.

Kuvikas on the loom. (Summer and Winter)

Kuvikas panel 1 complete. I always use red thread for a cutting line between pieces, so there is no accidental cutting in the wrong place.

I then changed the treadle tie-up to switch from kuvikas to taqueté. The taqueté has no tabby weft. The teal and cream Tencel weft threads lay back-to-back, producing a double-faced fabric. This piece is being used as a table runner.

Kuvikas to taqueté, change in treadle tie-up.

Stripes in kuvikas, and then square pattern in taqueté after changing the treadle tie-up.

Finished Tencel kuvikas (summer and winter) glistens!

Finished kuvikas glistens in the sunlight.

Enjoy the little slideshow video I made for you that follows the process from three lovely aquamarine warp chains to fabric glistening in the sun on a Texas hill country table.

May you finish something that is not easy.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Do you remember my Handwoven Thick and Thin Towels (that appeared on the cover of Handwoven), and my Black and White Towels (These Sensational Towels)? I will be teaching a workshop on that thick and thin technique at Shoppes at Fleece ‘N Flax in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas August 24 – 26, 2017. You’re welcome to join us! I’d love to see you there! Contact the shop at the number below if you are interested.

Our weaving classes for May, June and July are filled ( but you can sign up on a waiting list!) and we still have a few…

Posted by Shoppes at Fleece 'N Flax on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

6 Comments

Leave a Reply


One Handweaver

This time, please permit me to share with you a short video that tells a little something about me as a handweaver. I suspect, if you are a weaver, you enjoy weaving for some of the same reasons I do. The process of turning threads into cloth never ceases to fascinate me! I weave on Glimåkra countermarch looms, with an emphasis on Swedish-style textiles. Even within that boundary, there are endless weaves to explore and techniques to try. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to sit at a loom and weave these threads together. Thank you to Eddie Fernandez for his kind manner behind the camera and for his masterful videography.

And I can’t tell you enough what a joy it is to walk through this process with friends like you.

May you enjoy the part of the process you are in.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

24 Comments

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


How to Splice the Warp – Video

Knots show up in the warp. It’s a normal part of weaving. Weaving over the knot is almost never a good idea. You have to deal with the little obstacle. This is why it is handy to know how to splice the warp. Thankfully, it’s not hard to do. There are a few standard variations on how to perform this operation. I use a method that I first came across here, by Kirsten Froberg, that makes sense to me. And, hooray, there are no tails to weave in later!

I made a new video to demonstrate how I do it. You can watch it below…

How to splice the warp.

Spliced area of the warp happens to land in the hems of two adjoining towels. Pink weft picks serve as a cutting line between the towels.

How to deal with a knot in the warp. Tutorial video.

Ending the splice. There are no tails to weave in later with this method.

How to Remove a Knot in the Warp

  • Insert a replacement warp end. Attach with a pin.
  • Weave an inch with original and replacement warp ends in place.
  • Cut original warp end. Hang it over the back beam.
  • Weave until original warp end is long enough to reinsert.
  • Insert original warp end. Attach with a pin.
  • Weave an inch with replacement and original warp ends in place.
  • Cut and remove replacement warp end.
  • Trim cut warp ends after wet finishing.

May the knots that get in your way be easy to remove.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Karen,

    This is great! I do it the same way except, I never thought of reattaching the original warp thread; a brilliant way to avoid a possible tension issue.

    Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Beth, You’re right, this does avoid the possible tension issue of having a single weighted thread hanging at the back. Besides, I like the idea of putting everything back in order so there’s nothing to fidget with at the back.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for posting such a wonderful video.
    & thank you for encouraging us to do the good thing, maybe not the easiest, but the best. Our wovens & our lives are stronger & more beautiful when we attend to our “knots”
    Have a blessed day 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks for showing us this! I also hadn’t thought to reattach the original thread. It makes so much sense now that I’ve seen you do it!

    • Karen says:

      Cindy, It does make sense, doesn’t it? Sometimes common sense methods are hidden in plain sight. We just have to discover them.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply