When I took a beginning weaving class earlier this year, little did I realize that I'd be bit by the weaving bug!
I bought a rigid-heddle loom and became engrossed with pushing the boundaries of this simple, yet versatile, loom.
As part of my exploration, and a continuation of my "bag fetish" (I've knitted and felted over 75 bags) I decided to weave bags using cloth strips as I'd seen done in rag rugs. A trip to the local fabric store for a few yards of colorful cotton fabric and I was ready to begin a new fiber adventure!
This thick cotton fabric makes a very sturdy bag and the handle is substantial enough to hold a heavy load from the market!
Rigid-heddle loom with a 12-dent heddle.
3/2 pearl cotton by Silk City in Black and Pompeii Dust
Warp the rigid-heddle loom with a warp 2 yards long, in the color order shown below. There are 168 warp ends total.
3/2 pearl cotton in Black and Pompeii Dust
1-1/2 yards of cotton fabric, cut on the grain into 1-inch-wide strips.
- Purse handles: I used black vinyl handles from Jo Ann Fabrics. You can also purchase leather, wood, metal, and plastic handles.
- One magnetic clasp, large snap, or other closing device.
12 epi, sleyed in a 12-dent rigid heddle.
I wove this bag in plain weave, you could add warp- or weft-float designs for textural interest. If you do, keep the floats short, so the bag remains sturdy.
Width on the loom: 14 inches wide.
Fabric off the loom: 21 inches by 14 inches wide.
Finished bag: 12-1/2 inches wide, by 10-1/2 inches high.
Weave a 1-1/2 inch hem, alternating the two colors of 3/2 cotton.
Weave the body of the bag in plain weave. In each shed, throw one pick of fabric strip and Black 3/2 cotton in each shed, beat firmly. Continue until you have woven 22 inches of cloth.
Finish with another 1-1/2 inch hem, alternating the two colors of 3/2 cotton.
Machine zig-zag stitch each end of the handwoven fabric. Cut off excess warp close to stitching.
Fold the bag in half, with the right sides together.
Stitch each side closed, continuing up into the handwoven hem. Turn the bag right side out.
Measure the bag and cut a piece of fabric for lining, one inch wider than bag (for seam allowances). With the right sides of the lining together, stitch up the sides.
With a hot steam iron, press open the seams of the lining. Turn down the top edge of the lining twice and press to make a finished hem. Put the lining inside the bag, wrong sides together, and pin in place, matching the side seams. Fold the handwoven hem over the top of the lining and pin it in place.
If you are using a magnetic closure or snap, attach each piece to the center of the front and back of the bag, sewing through both the handwoven hem and the lining fabric. Machine stitch the woven hem and lining around the top of the bag once or twice to secure it firmly. Tack each bottom corner of the lining to the bag with matching thread.
You have a lot of options when it comes to adding handles. Here are just a few ideas:
- Hand-stitch on premanufactured handles, as I did with this bag.
- Weave an inkle band in the 3/2 pearl cotton as a strap.
- Weave or braid a flap that comes over the top of the bag and attaches to the front with a decorative button. (You could even weave the buttonhole into the flap.)
Here are some other bags I wove on my rigid-heddle loom using fabric strips as weft. You can see how changing the fabric and shape of the bag makes a big difference.
This wine-bottle carrier was woven out of colorful polka-dot-and-striped fabric. With this bag I carried the warp-end fringe to the outside, for a fun festive look that matched the aesthetic of the fabric. The handle on this bag is black nylon braid from JoAnn's Fabrics.
Looking for a new summer handbag, I wove this linen and cotton bag. Woven on an 8-dent heddle, the warp is Artful Yarns "Marine", the weft is a variety of yarns: 3/2 cotton, 10/4 linen, and Irish-lace cotton. The majority of the bag is plain weave, with a section of warp-float patterning near the bottom for textural interest. The wooden handles are sewn on through the lining fabric as well as the woven fabric.
I had these great wooden handles and wanted to weave a summer bag to complement them. I used Sugar and Cream cotton yarn for the warp, in Cream and Ecru. The weft is a combination of a maroon-colored fabric cut on the bias and Irish-lace cotton: one pick maroon fabric, two picks Irish-lace cotton. I wove the handle loops on each end of the woven bag fabric and then sewed them closed so the handle fits very snuggly into the loops. I braided the warp ends in the middle of the bag for a decorative finish and added beads. The two center maroon warp braids are longer and act as a throw-over flap to close the top of the bag.
Linda Gettmann escaped from her corporate office in the financial services industry to have more time for her hobbies: knitting, weaving, travel, scuba diving and photography. A long-time knitter, Linda learned to weave in February 2008 and—between the two—has taken over an extra bedroom in the house. She is on the lookout for new weaving classes, and enjoys experimenting with fiber arts.