Sunday, 31 October 2010

Preparing the forms and cutting the loomskin

Before cutting I took the opportunity to measure the sleeves and body of the jacket and to make the forms I will need when I weave those sections. 
The sleeve forms are shaped pieces of cardboard which I will roll up and tape. The body form is shaped from a stack of styrofoam sheets with a cardboard cover front and back. I tried both sleeve and body forms inside the jacket to make sure they fit well. At the right stage, the loomskin will be pulled taut and attached to the forms for the weaving.

Finally I took the plunge and cut along the lines I had established. 
I machine stitched along the cut edges to attach the reinforcing strips firmly. 
The loomskin is now in three pieces. The main piece lies flat with five sections splaying out from the round yoke. The two underarm pieces each have a curved seam which joins the lower panel of the sleeve to the side panel of the body.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Charting the warp on the loomskin

I charted some sections of the warp while the loomskin was still in the form of a jacket. This made it possible for me to have it on the dressmaker's dummy and to try it on myself while working. 

I came up with a method for the shaping where the sleeves meet the body and tested it.
My goal at this stage was to establish cutting lines parallel to the warp in order to make the loomskin lie flat for warping. Before cutting I applied strips of sturdy fabric to the back of the cutting lines to reinforce the edges.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Testing take up and drafting the hem

Before I could draft the hem I needed to finalize what I would do about take up. So I made a sample to test these materials for the amount of take up I had to account for. In a previous less controlled test I had concluded that take up would be about 10%, so I started with that for this test. I decided how long I would like the test piece and drew that out. Then I added 10% to that and I warped the sample with extra rows of pins included. As needed during weaving the sample I could release the tension by removing a row of pins.
I concluded after weaving the sample that I would make the warp 10% longer than the desired final length of the project. About 1/3 of that would account for stretch. The other 2/3 would need to be let out in stages during weaving to release the increased tension that occurs because of take up. I decided that for the longer project, I would need more small stages to allow me to let out the tension even more gradually than I did for the test.
When charting the hem of the JACKET, I chose the final desired length, added the extra 10% and charted the increments where I will place stitches to hold the warp threads. I will be able to release the holding stitches one row at a time.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The loomskin

This jacket fits me well so it became the basis for the weaving. Here I've marked with pins where the edge of the yoke will come.

After pinning and measuring the yoke on the jacket I began to draw up the warping pattern for the yoke using the sett ruler. I worked first on paper and then on interfacing which I eventually sewed onto the loomskin. This took several attempts and I was glad of Frieda's help to hold the things in position for me. When I stand her on the table, she is just my height! (Frieda is the name my daughter gave my homemade dressmaker's dummy).

This is the yoke after a lot more of the warp is drawn on. It also shows the fabric reinforcing I added to the front opening.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The colours

I started planning the colour scheme after my sister gave me the base yarn, a lovely warm beige flecked wool.

I kept looking for the colours I'd like to blend with it and finally found the knobbly white, and the shiny turquoise. 

All I needed after that was a darker fine yarn to tie it all together, and I finally found the grey/blue variegated yarn.
Then I made samples combining the yarns.
The colour plan - The entire warp will be made up of the beige combined with the blue-grey. The weft will consist of the beige with a strand of turquoise except on the yoke and cuffs which will get the white knobbly yarn instead of the turquoise for a gentle contrast. Here and there I'll weave in some turquoise ribbon for sparkle or three strands of turquoise for stronger colour at points I'd like to emphasize.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My sett ruler and pin-woven samples

I made my sett ruler based on the required number of threads per cm in my project. This depends on the thickness of the yarn and the spacing I want for it (close and compact for stiffness or wider spaced for softness and drape). With the yarn I'm using I settled on a sett of 10 threads per 4 cm to give a fairly firm fabric that isn't too stiff for comfort.

The sett ruler has alternating black and red marks. The distance between the black marks is the width of a pair of threads. This then becomes the unit of measure for charting everything about the piece I'm going to weave: 
  • where the pins go for the top and bottom of the warp
  • the size of the increments for increases and decreases of shaping
  • where the warp turns to form the wedges for shaping
  • size and placement of buttonholes.
I use the sett ruler when I make pin-woven samples. The sample shown has 12 warp threads and 12 weft threads, so I have drawn the chart of it with six spaces across marked with black marks from the sett ruler and 6 spaces long. The other end is marked with red marks. Then I place the pins at both ends and wrap the warp, starting and ending at the black end. I weave the piece while it is pinned down, remove the pins and darn in the ends.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Other miscellaneous things I learned

Other little projects - I did two other projects entirely with pins and no holding stitches: a little case using a piece of styrofoam packing material, and a zipped bag built around a custom built box filled with styrofoam. The piece of foam wore out with the friction of the needle while weaving; it crumbled a bit and the pins loosened. It barely held up to the end of the weaving. The custom built box filled with foam was sturdy enough to allow me to reuse it for three more projects the same size before the pin holes became too loose to hold well. These were good practice for charting a warp and weaving in the round.

Miscellaneous tests - Along the way I kept figuring out other details like how to chart the warp and weft effectively, the best way to chart the shaping wedges, what kinds of holding stitches were needed for various purposes and how to solve the problem of take up in the warp.

Mini projects and what I learned from them (part 5)

Bag project – This is the project on which I tested the idea of a "loomskin". I charted the warp and weft onto a piece of sturdy fabric, marked all the pin positions and sewed in the holding stitches. Then I laid the loomskin out on cardboard and inserted the pins. After wrapping the warp onto the pins, I attached the warp to the fabric by catching the warp threads down with yarn threaded through the holding stitches.

The flap of the bag was flat, so I wove it before taking the piece off the flat cardboard. After this I fastened the loomskin around a shaped cardboard form so that the rest of the weaving could be done all in one piece in the round.

I also used this project to test a semicircular weft because by this time I was considering a round yoke design for the JACKET. Both the loomskin idea and the semicircle weft worked well and I began to finalize the pattern..

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mini projects and what I learned from them (part 4)

I discovered a better way to warp shaped weavings

 Collar project, pin weaving experiment – This project was a breakthrough because I realized I could weave a shaped piece with the warp pinned down. There didn't need to be any bothersome threading of the warp through holding stitches because it could be wrapped continuously around the pins. This was much quicker. I used a method reminiscent of bobbin lace by pulling the warp out straight and weaving a section, then repositioning the ends of the warp to gradually curve the piece.

After this I began to explore the possibilities of using pin warping as an interim stage for warping a more complex piece. I came to the idea that the warp could be first wrapped on pins on a flat surface to get it in place and then attached to a fabric backing with holding stitches. Then the fabric backing could be attached to a 3D form for weaving. I called this idea of a warp attached to a removable backing fabric a "loomskin" and I tested it on a bag project.(see next post)

Mini projects and what I learned from them (part 3)

Waistcoat project – In this project I used a progressive approach by weaving the collar first on its own little shaped cardboard loom with long ends hanging off the bottom. When I finished weaving the collar I removed it from the collar loom and attached it to the large cardboard assembled loom to weave the rest of the garment. I warped the waistcoat with a selvedge at the top of garment and ends left long at the hem to darn in at the end. All other edges were finished while weaving. The progressive approach worked really well. I determined to find a way to make a continuous warp to avoid all the ends that needed darning in at the hem.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Mini projects and what I learned from them (part 2)

Teddy bear jacket – I was getting better at planning the warp and charting the placement of each thread. Continuing to use holding stitches in cardboard to hold the warp in place, I experimented further with shaping. I used both triangular wedges and diamond shaped insertions in the warp. I wove the body of the jacket from the bottom up and then added in the sleeves. I tested the idea that some of the warp threads of the body could become weft threads in the sleeves. This idea sort of worked, but it was hard to make the turn really neat and I left some holes of uneven weaving at the point where the sleeves join the body. I created an integral buttonhole which worked well. As the jacket had quite a sharp increase in dimensions for the teddy's tummy, I needed to slant the warps quite sharply. I learned that a really steep angle between warp and weft didn't work very well because it made the fabric lose stability and become puckered and stretchy. Threads at closer to right angles form a sturdier fabric.

Mini projects and what I learned from them (part 1)

Dressmaker's dummy – I made it (with my daughter's help) with cardboard and duct tape using my own body as the form. I stuffed it with crumpled newspapers around an empty shoebox. I was exploring whether I could weave the JACKET right on the dummy. It became a useful object in its own right, but I couldn't immediately see how it would work to hold the warp for the JACKET.

At first I thought the way to hold the warp in place was with holding stitches on a cardboard form

First collar project – I combined a warp faced strip as an edge of the plain weave body of the project. I used a shaped cardboard loom on which I charted the warp and weft. Holding stitches held the warp threads in place. I tested a curved warp and the idea of leaving holes in the weft to be dealt with like drawn thread work. The method of joining the warp faced strip with the plain weave worked but was very cumbersome.

Slippers – From what I learned making the dressmaker's dummy, I built a form for each of my husband's feet. I then created cardboard pieces with holding stitches in them and which attached to the form. I used the slipper project to find out how to create shaping in both the warp and weft. It is necessary to add shaping by adding pairs of threads to maintain the over-under pattern, so shaping is done as wedges.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

What I needed to learn

The challenge I gave myself was to weave a wearable, attractive, fitted JACKET in plain weave all in one piece. I assumed I would not be able to do this on a traditional loom!

The problems I needed to solve in order to do this:
1) SHAPING: How to create shaping of various kinds, especially sleeves, yoke, collar, and buttonholes.
2) WARP TENSION: How to keep the warp threads under tension while weaving in the round and in complicated shapes.
3) CONTINUOUS WARP: How to do a continuous warp so that the top and bottom edges are selvedges.
4) TAKE UP: How to deal with take up so that the garment ends up being the size I intend.

To solve these various problems I tried a number of mini projects, gradually building up the knowledge I needed to tackle the entire project. They included a couple of collars, a pair of slippers, a couple of bags, a jacket for a teddy bear and a waistcoat for myself. In the next few blog posts I will briefly describe these projects and what I learned from each.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

JACKET in capital letters

Two years ago I got the idea that I would like to try to weave a jacket all in one piece with no seams. I was given some lovely wool and I began to try to figure out what it would take to make such a jacket. Many samples and experiments later, I have figured out the process. Soon I will actually use the lovely wool to warp the jacket. This blog will briefly document the steps that I have taken to get this far and where I go from here. When I started investigating the process, I didn't know how many things I would need to learn and how many trial projects I would go through to learn them. Now as I am about to launch into the actual weaving, the project has grown in importance in my life to such an extent that I always capitalize JACKET when I refer to it.