Framed Purses from Narrow Bands
One loom has been with me throughout my life: through child rearing, hectic days, and rushing around—my inkle loom.
Portable and easy to warp, it’s friendly and yet mysterious to onlookers and new weavers.
It has everything going for it...except width.
I challenged myself to look at its lack of width as a design opportunity.
West African strip weaving was my inspiration. If you look closely at the Kente cloth of Ghana, you will see it is stitched together from woven strips comprising many disparate elements of design, color, and weave. The joined strips create a unique aesthetic not seen in textiles woven as a single wide width. These separate-yet-unified elements create the beauty and vibrancy of the cloth.
With this in mind, I went to the loom to create several narrow textiles that could be joined together to create something beautiful, sophisticated, and yet...unashamedly narrow.
Framed coin purses fit my specifications. They are professional in finish and show off the textile in a way that I like. I hope you like them too.
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These simple warp-faced bands can be woven on either a shaft loom or inkle loom.
- A loom. (Anything that can weave warp-faced plain weave will work: floor loom, table loom, inkle loom, etc.)
- Medium-to-light weight woven iron-on interfacing. This must be woven interfacing to drape and flow properly with the handwoven band.
- One meter of 2 cm-wide black cotton selvedge strip or twill tape. This is used to reinforce the join when the narrow handwoven strips are butted up to each other and stitched. The twill tape or selvedge is underneath the join and won’t be visible in the finished purse.
- Approximately 13 x 45 cm of lining fabric. If you are an inexperienced sewer, I recommend a closely woven cotton fabric as this will not slip as you sew it. You can use a satin-style fabric (as I did) if you are comfortable sewing slippery fabric.
- A 1 x 75mm square purse frame. I got mine from Nicole M. Designs. The pattern provided here is designed especially for these frames.
- Narrow handwoven fabric at least 45 cm long x 6.2 cm wide.
- Strong, clear craft glue.
- Black sewing thread and a sewing machine.
- A pressing ham or rolled-up towel. This is used to press the purse into shape.
- Purse Pattern (Download the pattern as a PDF file)
The sett for this textile is 105 epi. I used a 15 dpi reed sleyed at seven ends per dent.
An inkle loom does not have a reed, but the textile will weave up to approximately the same sett.
I use 2/20 mercerized cotton for the warp and weft. See the warp order charts below for colors. For the weft, I used Black 2/20 mercerized cotton.
Winding the Warp
The warping color order below is what I used. I encourage you to play around with different colors and design your own bands.
Note:Because inkle looms are warped in a continuous loop, and the heddle threads and non-heddle threads are slightly different lengths, you will have to use some ingenuity to make the best use of a painted warp on them. One option is to warp the inkle loom with white yarn in the usual way, remove the warp, paint it, and return it to the loom. Or you could use a painted skein to create a painted-warp effect as described in "Designing with Turned-Weft Ikat." Of course, this purse-construction technique works just as well with inkle bands that are designed with non-painted warps. See "Inkle-Woven Shoelaces" for a discussion of inkle-band design.
I use a belt shuttle for weaving warp-faced bands, regardless of whether I am weaving on an inkle or shaft loom, because a belt shuttle packs the weft in crisply between the closely spaced warp threads. This means that when I weave on a shaft loom, I do not beat the weft with the loom's beater. I use the reed only to space the warp.
A belt shuttle looks a lot like a stick shuttle with one edge sharpened. An alternative to a belt shuttle is using a conventional stick shuttle to carry the weft and a ruler to beat it in.
Prepare the Handwoven Fabric
The strips of the handwoven band need to be stitched together to form a wider textile. Cut the long (45 cm) woven strip into 2 equal lengths. Butt the selvedges of the bands up against each other, with the black selvedge strip or twill tape underneath the join to reinforce it. Use a machine zig-zag stitch to join the handwoven bands (this also attaches the twill tape on the underside of the fabric.) If you do this carefully the stitching will be almost imperceptible. Press.
Fuse the Interfacing
With an iron, fuse the woven interfacing to the wrong side (where the twill tape is) of your prepared handwoven fabric.
Cut out the Pattern
Using the purse pattern provided above, cut two from the handwoven fabric and two from the lining fabric. Mark the dots at the end of the notches, on the interfacing side of the fabric. Accuracy is very important in both cutting and sewing your purse.
Note: The purse pattern includes a 5 mm seam allowance throughout.
Stitch the Top Curved Seam of the Purse
With right sides together and using a 5 mm seam allowance, stitch one lining piece to one handwoven piece around the top curve of the purse. Start and end precisely at the marked dots. Back stitch carefully to secure the stitching at both dots. Repeat this with the other handwoven and lining pieces.
Stitch the Side Seams
Pull the lining up to reveal the right sides of the handwoven fabric as shown.
With right sides together, pin the side seams of the handwoven fabric together.
Using a 5 mm seam allowance, stitch these seams carefully matching up the dots exactly. Stitch the side seams of the lining in the same way. Press all seams open.
Turn the purse to the right side out and press the top curved seam edges flat.
Stitch the Base Seams
Turn the purse back to wrong side out.
Stitch along the base seam of the handwoven fabrics with right sides together. Stitch across the base seam of the linings leaving a gap of about 7 cm in the center. Press the base seams open.
Stitch the Boxed Corner
Pinch the side seams to the base seams as shown to define a boxed corner on each side. Stitch the boxed corners securely, using a 5 mm seam allowance.
Do the same with the lining corners. At this point you can also stitch the lining boxed corner to the handwoven fabric boxed corner to secure the lining in the purse, if desired.
Find the Purse
Turn the whole purse to the right side through the gap in the lining base. It should now almost look like a purse! Neatly hand-stitch the lining gap inside the purse closed. Press the purse well.
Attach the Purse to the Frame
Carefully squirt some craft glue inside one half of the purse frame. Spread it out to cover the area. (A matchstick makes a handy spreading tool.) Working quickly, push the curved edge of the purse into the frame starting with the sides near the hinge. Use a blunt tool, like a screwdriver, to push the fabric into the glued frame. Let this edge dry, then repeat on the other side of the frame.
Crimp the Frame
The glue might be enough to secure the purse to the frame but to really secure it, you should also crimp the frame. This can be done using a purse frame crimper.
Design Your Own Purse
There are so many different sizes and types of purse frames that you may need to make your own purse patterns to fit the frames available in your area. You can use the frame itself to start the pattern: trace around its outside edge and add a seam allowance and some ease. Once you fit the frame at the top of the pattern, the shaping of the body of the purse can get really creative. And all this is before getting into decorative extras like embroidery, felted flowers, shisha mirrors, ruffles, ribbon work, etc., etc.
I’ve included a diagram with ideas for designing your own purse pattern (Download the diagram as a PDF.) The design area shows an enlarged coin purse, with pattern lines for different purse shapes, including the one used in this project.
- Nicole Mallalieu Design: Great information, tips, tutorials and supplies. Nicole sells a coin purse kit for the 75 mm frames and has excellent, detailed instructions useful for beginner sewers.
- Tall Poppy: Craft products and handbag supplies
- Lacis: Purse frames and handbag supplies.
- Glasses Case.....Attaching Frame" a tutorial for attaching a frame to a small purse.
- "Purse Frames De-mystified" tutorial
- "Curved Purse Frames De-mystified" tutorial
Kaz Madigan has been weaving for a long time and continues to be absolutely enthralled by constructed textiles. Beginning with the simplest of handbuilt looms, Kaz now weaves on a 24-shaft digital dobby. But that doesn’t mean she has grown beyond simple looms that create complexity from the hands of the weaver. Author of The Australian Weaving Book, Kaz continues to enjoy writing about weaving on her blog, Curious Weaver.