Monday, April 18, 2011


I was teaching Gustav Klimt's portrait art to my junior high class last fall and was inspired to paint a family portrait just for fun. When I was teaching my students, I really stressed Klimt's style of blending the person with the background. So I had a little fun with this one. Can you tell I was lazy and didn't want to paint the rest of the table?

I looked up some old fashioned family portraits for inspiration, this was one of my favorites. I staged a photo session to use for reference. I wanted us to look like an old-fashioned family, but not from a specific time period. Just sometime in the 1800's. I wore my wedding dress and put a huge comforter underneath to poof it out. I might try another family portrait in a couple of years in another artist's style. Maybe N.C. Wyeth...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Color Workshop

Our guild hosted another workshop on the most popular topic in the weaving world: color! Our instructor was Ruby Leslie and her topic was how weave structure effects visual color blending. We all brought our own loom set up with a specific weave structure (all different ones) and then had a round robin weave-a-thon so that everyone got to weave each of the different structures.

Ruby did an excellent job explaining the different structures and their effects on color. The possibilities really are endless since you can change your vertical (warp) stripes and your horizontal (weft) color. She has done an incredible amount of sampling and research and was highly qualified to teach on this subject. I learned so much!

We were able to take home all of the samples we wove. Here are the two versions of plaid that I just loved. I would never think of putting these colors together, but they really are a beautiful combination. As much as I hate hot pink, that one stripe really brings it together!

This sample was really fun to weave. It is an 8-shaft advancing twill pattern--something I can't do on my 4-shaft loom.

This is the weave structure from my loom, called "bumberet". I had never seen anything like it before. It forms a sort of chain in rows and looks really nice with lots of warp stripes. My weft in this was just the medium green.

If you ever have the chance to take a weaving workshop, don't pass it up! You get so much knowledge and extra tips. In addition to all the workshop information, I learned how to tie a weaver's knot (very helpful for my next project). And I learned how to stop weaving in the middle of a project to cut off what you've woven and then be able to start right back up again. Those two tips were worth the price of the class!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sewing with Handwoven Fabric

Here are a few highlights of my process. The main problems with handwoven fabric come from its loose and unstable state compared to store-bought fabric. First of all, the edges ravel almost immediately after cutting and so they must be secured as soon as possible. I have used a serger before on handwoven, but those were all rather straight edges. I cut out a test piece, one part of the sleeve, and serged it. As you can see in the photo above, compared to the pattern, it has been skewed out of shape by the serging. I was actually able to stretch it back into the right size and use it, but it was a good indicator that serging was out for this project.

I would highly recommend using as large of a table for cutting as possible. I used to just lay fabric out on the floor to cut, but that is a huge pain--mostly for your back!

I ended up doing two things to stabilize and secure the edges. After cutting out all of the pieces, I fused very thin interfacing strips along every cut edge. This worked wonderfully to prevent the fabric from becoming pulled out of shape, and it kept the fraying to a minimum while I was working with it.

Here you can see how different the fabric looks after pressing, compared to unpressed. It was extremely shiny after pressing. Because of that, I did as little pressing of the finished garment that I could.

The other finishing technique I used was to cover all the raw edges inside with bias tape. This makes the inside look very clean and neat, and it prevents any sort of fraying. The only drawback is that the already somewhat bulky seams are now bulkier. Surprisingly, it's not visibly noticeable, only when you're wearing it do you notice.

My other tip for the day is: follow directions and stay-stitch the neckline! I don't know about you, but I always skipped stay-stitching. It seems like such a worthless step if you're going to sew it anyway, right? Well, remember my stretched out/wonky neckline on the brown version of this? I did not change the pattern at all, I just stay-stiched it and my neckline came out perfect. Live and learn!

Do you have a sewing tip that's either a short cut or something you've learned cannot be skipped? Share it with us!