Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of the ways I earned my income as a production weaver was to weave yardage for a fashion designer. Since I billed per yard woven, I needed a fast and accurate way to measure the fabric, both on and off the loom.

I found a meter - a very expensive one, I might add - built for the textile industry which is accurate in the way that the cheap small ones aren't. Since I was going to rely on the meter for my invoicing, accuracy was of the highest priority.

The meter could be purchased with various measuring wheels so I bought two - one with a textured circumference (as shown above) for measuring fabric, the second with a channel for measuring yarn (for when I'm filling spools for beaming sectionally, etc.)

This meter has been well used and was well worth the price - for me. It's probably overkill for most.

Doug made a wooden gizmo to use for attaching it to the bottom of the loom between the cloth storage roller and the front directional roller. It sits just inside (about an inch) of the selvedge, and counts in feet, rather than yards or inches.

Once done weaving, I would transfer the cloth to my inspection table (also built by Doug - what can I say - he's a keeper!) where I would measure for billing purposes, then inspect and repair the cloth before shipping.

I still use the table for inspection and repair although I no longer weave for the fashion designer. It's just so much easier to stand at the table which was built for me and Doug to do this job than anywhere else. (Doug used to be my studio assistant.)

This method of measuring was much more efficient than any other. Since I was weaving anywhere from 3 to 50 yards (or more) of any particular fabric, using a measuring tape or string or any other method was not going to work particularly well. All I have to do is figure out how much length I need in feet, and then check the meter from time to time to see how close I'm getting to the finish line.

Speaking of finishing lines, I figure I need about 20 feet of this 20" wide fabric to do the samples for Seattle Weavers Guild. They send out between 350 and 360 newsletters, so it's a pretty big job for everyone involved. OTOH, they are still sending out actual samples most of the time, and that's something that not every guild is doing anymore.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Wow, Laura,

That measuring gizmo is fascinating. The right tool(s) for the job certainly can make an important difference.

Our guild no longer mails out samples. We went digital with our newsletter last year, now we have scanned images and drafts in the newsletter online, and keep two large (real) samples in our library. One to remain in the library, and one that is able to be checked out.

This is really nice in one way, and yet in another, I miss the excitement of 'touch and feel' when the newsletter would arrive in the mail.

And the irony? I'm the digital maven in the guild. . . Ha! :-)