Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Raw Materials

Most weavers in this day and age wind up weaving rectangles - place mats, scarves, shawls, etc., etc.  What we tend to forget is that historically what weavers wove were the raw materials for people who cut and sewed something from the yardage.

Here is the damp yardage for my new office curtains.  I'll press it in the morning, then try to find a couple of hours to sew the curtains.  They won't be anything but a 'quick and dirty' solution to a pressing problem - curtains that are threatening to fall off the curtain rod because gravity is proving too much for the shattered fabric.

Handwoven fabric is no more difficult to sew with than any commercial cloth of the same quality.  The 'problem' is that - even after a couple of decades of leaping to my soapbox to talk about wet finishing, including the importance of a hard press - many weavers till don't understand the process.  They sometimes build fabric that is too 'weak' for the intended purpose, fail to apply compression, then get dismayed when their fabric either falls apart at the sight of scissors or simply doesn't perform the way it should.

The more weavers understand about what makes a good cloth for their application, including the wet finishing, the more success they will have when it comes to things like sewing fitted garments.

Now leaping off my soapbox.


Anonymous said...

Never fear Laura, I am listening to your lecture and taking it to heart. Looking forward to seeing a picture of your finished curtains hanging in the window.

charlotte said...

I wonder: is wet finishing equal to washing or to pressing with steam, or both? Do you apply different procedures to different fibres?
When I weave folk costume yardage, I simply send a roll of fabric and the tailor will do whatever finish required.

Laura Fry said...

It may take a while before I can find time to set up my machine and do the sewing and final pressing. :)

Yes, different fibres may need to be treated differently. Wet finishing is usually more 'vigorous' than simply washing. For example, cotton is wet finished in my studio with *hot* water. Subsequent care instructions will say to wash with *warm* water.

A hard press is not just ironing. It is the application of pressure with the heat, while ironing is just sweeping the iron back and forth without any particular pressure.

Cold mangling is pressure without heat, most often applied to linen, but which also works well for cotton, Tencel and silk. I've even cold mangled wool.

I've a video clip showing hard pressing and another with cold mangling on You Tube. I think the link is to the right of the blog.