Thursday, 13 July 2017

Where did the warp go?

I really did mean to start on my project for the Sheep Show early this year – but, as usual, life intervened.

Months ago now, I found a Burda pattern

that somehow reminded me of the Nina Ricci Jacket and dress that my mother made somewhere around 1957. 

Maybe the reason it reminded me of the 1957 pattern was that it was also 1950s inspired.

I realised that if I planned the fabric to be cut weftwise rather than with the warp, I could place a panel of pattern precisely to the edge of the pleats at the shoulders at the back, make the front pattern panel meet at the shoulder and have plain sleeves and side panels,very likely to have a slimming effect.

I started to make a test jacket with a piece of fabric I found in the stash.  I could swear I’d never seen it before so maybe it made its way into the stash by osmosis.   I made enough of it to confirm the size and fit but must finish it when I’ve got more time as it definitely has potential.

I’d already found an 8 shaft draft, Snowflakes by Susan BH from Weavolution, that looked as though it would work both with a contrast weft 

and with the same warp and weft

so I did very careful calculations for the length, adding 20% and another half a meter for good measure.  I removed the draw loom shafts from my 8 shaft loom, wound a warp and started to weave a sample.  I cut it into 3 pieces, washed one by hand, one with a load of towels and left the third alone.  There seemed to be around 5 to 7% shrinkage giving a 38 mm repeat.  

I planned my weaving to the required number of repeats plus one extra for each panel and away I went.  First a front, then a sleeve and a facing and then the back, placing 11 repeats of the pattern carefully in the middle.  As I wove the next sleeve and facing the tie on rod started to appear

– clearly there was not enough warp left to weave the front panel.

What to do?   I’d read about tying a new warp to the old and this seemed like the best option as the treading was complicated and I’d already fixed most of the mis-threadings.  Then I made a fast trip to the local yarn shop, fortunately they had more of the yarn, and wound another shortish warp. 

I looked to the web for advice, Madelyn van der Hoogt  recommended weaving a plain weave heading, thanks Madelyn, so I did the best I could as there was no plain weave in the draft.

I realised that I needed to support the weight of the apron rods so that they didn't fall and pull all the ends from the heddles so I tied one to the castle and the other to the breast beam

and I used a ruler and a short lease stick to keep the cross in order and taped it all to the breast beam to keep it secure

while I tied the 719 knots.  Mostly the knots held but around 2% failed – note to self, learn to tie proper weaver’s knots or learn to get the length of the warp right in the first place.

When I took the cloth off the loom, the crucial centre back panel measured 17 inches, not 16 as I had planned and even after wet finishing what was clearly a machine washable yarn, it did not seem to have shrunk at all, certainly not 5 to 6% as the sample did.  I re-measured the pattern piece and realised that 16.5 was probably closer to what I needed and fortunately by the time it was dry next morning it was exactly 16.5.

Sewing went smoothly, helped by an extra half day off work, and it was finished one whole day before it had to be delivered.

And here are a couple of very hasty photos of it on me, just before I took it to the Guild for transport to Bendigo,  but hopefully I will have a picture of it on a tall slim model after my visit to the Sheep Show on Sunday.
I realised that the warp disappeared into poor calculations – If the front panel needed to be 11 motifs wide in total, why did I plan for 11 pattern repeats and 4 plain ones? 

Just one extra repeat to get the beat consistent would have been plenty.  I planned 5 panels – two fronts, two sleeves and facings and the back.  I think I added an extra repeat to each panel for good measure and that’s where the warp went.  It would have been so much easier to get it right in the first place, there’s probably a lesson there.

Since this post seems to be a lot about measurement and calculation, I should share that I saw over at Threads that today, July 14, is National Tape Measure Day.  I must have at least 6 in various places round the house/studio and in varying states of repair after fights with sharp implements.  When I need one, they all seem to be missing, maybe they’re at a party celebrating National Tape Measure Day or possibly even Bastille Day, that’s what I always thought July 14 celebrated.  However it seems that it’s the day in 1868 that Alvin J Fellows patented his new improved tape measure – who knew?


  1. Jacket looks great and it is slimming if you need it to be! I have been soooo envious of all the reports of folks in Bendigo this week. Mind you my purchases from May are still unpacked/untouched due to still suffering a virus caught on the plane. Slowly getting on top of it. Look forward to your Bendigo report.

  2. Another beautifully woven and sewn garment Helen. Very smart. Glenis

  3. Thanks Glenis, and I certainly learnt my lesson about having enough warp - I hope never to tie on another warp!