I love to wear handwoven clothing when I teach. For my workshop at Convergence in Tampa, I wanted something fun, colorful, and tropical.
My class was “Software, Structure and Design," so I thought a garment that exemplified those three elements would be fantastic.
I used Double Two-tie Unit Weave (also known as half-block Summer and Winter) as the weave structure to create the loom-controlled tropical imagery. Double Two-Tie Unit Weave also creates a fabric with two distinctly different sides—giving me more options when planning my garment.
I’ve always loved the graceful shape of palm trees, so I began with a a simple silhouette. First I entered a Double Two-tie Unit Weave threading into my weaving software.
Then drew a palm tree in the liftplan grid. (Actually half a palm tree, since mirroring the threading gives you the other half.)
[Editor's Note: The long floats shown in the pattern above are not an issue, because they will secured by plain-weave (aka tabby) tie-down wefts when those are added in the next step.]
After that, there are several steps before you actually have a weaving draft: space the palms throughout the fabric, add the tabby shots, add the ties to the pattern shots, add the color, etc.
Fortunately, the software does most of the pattern-drafting busy work, leaving you plenty of time for the fun part—weaving!
The conference colors were perfect for my tropical theme: lime green, tangerine, fuchsia and aquamarine. I decided to alternate two similar colors in the warp, lime green and a greenish yellow.
I did not pick the weft at this point. Because the color-interaction when weft hits warp is hard to predict, I would do some sampling before deciding on the pattern and tabby weft colors.
I wanted a garment that would be easy to sew and wear. I decided on a kimono-style vest that could go over casual pants and tops. I wanted to look good, but I wanted to be comfortable, too. I would need about four yards for the two front and back panels, extra for hems, plus plenty for sampling and a yard or so for play...I decided on six-yards total.
Now that I had a basic plan in place, I could get down to specifics....
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Twenty-four-shaft loom. I used an AVL A-Series loom, equipped with Compu-dobby.
Double strands of 20/2 perle cotton; two similar shades of lime green used as one end; alternating with two similar shades of yellow green used as one end. Using two similar shades of the same color adds additional color depth and interest.
I beamed a six-yard warp of 550 ends. I like to beam a little extra for sampling and play.
Any warping method would work. I used a 1-yard sectional beam and the AVL Warping Wheel (11 sections of 50 ends each).
The warp was sett at 24 ends per inch (epi), 2 per dent in a 12 dent reed, for a width of just under 23 inches.
The fabric wove at 20 tabby picks and 20 pattern picks for a total of 40 picks per inch (ppi).
Tabby Weft: 20/2 perle cotton in emerald green.
Pattern Weft: (decided after a good bit of sampling) one strand of fuchsia 20/2 perle cotton; one strand of rose pink 20/2 perle cotton; and one strand of tangerine 10/2 perle cotton. Hold all three together when you wind the pirn or bobbin, and treat them as a single weft yarn.
Twenty-four-shaft Double Two-Tie Unit Weave(sometimes abbreviated as Dbl2tie), on a point draw, with selvages on shafts 23 and 24.
Double Two-Tie has two distinct sides just like Summer and Winter. This design also has an image with a vertical orientation. (I didn't want my palms trees upside down!) So I needed to take those things into account when weaving the panels: right front, right back, left front, left back. I also had to take special care that the ppi remained constant so the panels would match along the seams.
So there I was weaving along at 40 ppi, listening to my audio book, watching the little palms appear as my shuttles flew back and forth, when suddenly an image of flamingos popped into my mind. (What can I say, getting into that zen state of weaving can have unintended results!)
I thought about it for a while and decided all that flora needed a little fauna to balance it out—and, what the heck, flamingos are so tropical.
Now, how to draw a flamingo? I searched the Internet for flamingo images and found a simple outline I thought might work. I copied it to my clipboard and pasted it into the Design window of my weaving software, WeavePoint. After resizing and simplifying the image, I was able to get it small enough to fit in the liftplan grid as a profile.
Then it was just a matter of letting the software help me add structure and get it placed in the liftplan for the two back panels.
I got back to weaving, trying to suppress all the other Florida images that popped into my mind!
Measurements and Shrinkage
Cloth for the two front and back panels, measured when cut off the loom: 140 inches X 21-3/4 inches.
After washing and pressing: 134 inches X 20-3/4 inches
Shrinkage: about 5% in length and width.
I took the fabric off the loom and cut it into panels. I secured the cut edges with a row of straight machine stitching. Then it went into a full regular cycle in my washing machine with hot water and regular laundry detergent. I air dried it on the clothes line until nearly dry then pressed everything with a hot iron.
I used my own version of a kimono-style vest. Use your own favorite kimono pattern or look for simple ethnic patterns suitable for handwoven fabric.
Folkwear has two patterns that would work well for this project, Japanese Hapi & Haori Coats (#129) and Japanese Field Clothing (#112.) Another great resource is the book Make Your Own Japanese Clothes by John Marshall, which details how to draft patterns to your own measurements.
I finished the vest panels with enough warp left for a wall hanging: "Palms and Flamingos."
Hem Trick for Summer & Winter and Double Two-Tie Unit Weave
This is a neat little trick I use whenever the hem will show on a two-sided piece. I used it for the top casing and hem of the Double Two-Tie Unit Weave banner I wove to display at Convergence 2008.
- Weave your cloth as normal, until you reach the hem fold.
- Change the tie-up to weave the back side of the patterned cloth and weave it in reverse for an inch or two.
For example: if you had ended the pattern in Step 1 at pick 1, you could begin Step 2 by treadling pick 60 and working backwards to pick 1, which (at 40 ppi) gives you 1-1/2 inches of upside-down pattern.
- When you get back to pick 1, switch back to weaving the right side of the cloth.
- Weave 1/2 to 3/4 inch of plain weave to fold over for the hem.
- Turn the hem, matching the images as you fold. Finish with an invisible hem stitch.
Jannie Taylor has been a handweaver and educator for more than 30 years. She teaches advanced weaving classes at the AVL Weaving School and workshops for guilds and conferences. When she's not teaching, Jannie enjoys designing and weaving one-of-a-kind garments that demonstrate her fascination with the interplay of color, fiber, and structure. Jannie earned the HGA award for "Outstanding Creativity and Craftsmanship in Weaving" and was a workshop leader at Convergence 2008, in Tampa Bay.