I Finished the Bag!

handwoven blue and green plaid bag

I am so pleased with how my handwoven and handsewn project bag turned out! It is a 7-8″ cube(ish), so it is quite roomy! For scale, this is a ball of Miss Babs Yowza inside and the beginnings of a shawl.

handwoven blue and green plaid bag with yarn inside

I worked this bag up in several different phases.


About a week ago I finished weaving the fabric. I detailed my finishing process here, and then handwashed it and hung it up to dry.


I recently read that sewing with handwoven cloth is harder than sewing with commercial cloth. I thought, “Huh. That’s interesting. I wonder if it’s true….” and then went on with my day. Once my fabric was dry I got to experience sewing with handwoven cloth, and it is definitely different than working with commercial cloth! I think it is because commercial cloth is a)finer than most handwoven cloth and b)more closely woven and thus more stable. The yarns in handwoven cloth are more likely to move around, making the fabric more stretchy and more likely to misbehave if you are not expecting stretch. The key is knowing what you are working with and managing your expectations. I sewed the thing together, took seams out and resewed, and eventually it was all done. Weaving the cloth in a square(ish) plaid definitely helped me to sew more evenly.


I started the finishing by sewing a 1 1/2″ ribbon around the outside edge of the bag. The ribbon acts as a binding, and I planned to turn it to the inside so the top of my bag would be nice and tidy. I was quite lucky with my sewing thread and ribbon, as both were from stash and matched my navy blue yarn almost exactly!

My finished cloth was quite soft and drapey. In order to give the bag more structure I bought a sheet of plastic canvas, cut it into 3 pieces, trimmed it to size for the front, back, and base of the bag, whipstitched these pieces together, and finally tacked them to the bag. Once this was done I sewed the ribbon binding down and steamed everything.

I wanted the top flap to have a little more stability, so I cut a thin piece of plastic canvas and sewed it down, then hot glued all the fringe ends of my weaving down. I added a magnetic closure to the flap and front of the bag, then turned it all over to hem the edges. I don’t usually use hot glue on projects like this, and it really messed up my sewing needle. But oh well, I have about a hundred needles, so I can afford to lose one.

handwoven blue and green plaid bag with magnetic closure

The last bit of finishing really brought the bag together. I took my remaining ribbon, snipped off a piece for the front, and braided the rest for a handle which I sewed onto the back of the bag. I tied the short piece into a loose overhand knot and tacked it onto the front flap as a decoration. It worked a charm.


Have you ever sewn with handwoven cloth? What did you think about the experience?

Calculating Yarn Usage for a Rigid Heddle Loom

When I had my weaving lesson last week my teacher gave me a weaving planning sheet.

project sheet

The sheet takes you through all the calculations you will need to determine how much yarn you will need for a given project. For the warp (vertical yarns) you start with the desired dimensions of your finished cloth, add in extra for take-up and shrinkage, then calculate how much yarn you need based on ends per inch (epi, this is the weaver’s term for how many strands of yarn are in an inch of warp) and the length of your cloth. The process is very similar for the weft (horizontal yarns). The main difference is that the number of ends per inch is predetermined for your warp by the heddle you use (The heddle is the plastic thing in back of the loom that you thread all the warp yarns through. You can buy heddles that have more or fewer ends per inch to weave a coarser or finer cloth.), but the number of picks per inch (ppi, this is the weaver’s term for how many times the yarn crosses the warp in an inch) is determined by how closely you beat your weft.

Confused yet?

So for a “balanced weave” I would have 8 strands going vertically and 8 strands going horizontally. But if I beat my weft closer I could end up with 8 strands going vertically and 9 or 12 (or any other number) strands going horizontally. This also goes the other way. I could have fewer weft (horizontal) yarns than warp (vertical) yarns.

So why does this matter?

The more closely packed your weft yarns are, the more yarn you will use. So if you are really close on yarn it is a good idea to do a few inches as a sample just to make sure you will have enough.

The picture you see above is my planning sheet for a plaid project bag. I want the finished bag to be an 8″ by 8″ cube with a fold-over top. I planned for the front, bottom, back, and flap to be all one piece, then for the 2 sides I skip an inch or so and start weaving the next pieces. My EPI (ends per inch on the warp) is 8 and my PPI (picks per inch on the weft) is 12. But my original calculations assumed a balanced weave. I started the project with almost twice the yarn my calculations said I needed, so even though my math was way off I went ahead with the project.

blue and green plaid fabric on a rigid heddle loom

I guess it’s a good thing I paid attention in Algebra!

Do you have a process for calculating yardage for your weaving? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Remake and Reuse

I live in the South. I didn’t grow up here, so the culture is not my own. That being said, I do appreciate some of the foods and customs here – like grits. For those of you not acquainted with grits, they are composed of coarsely ground corn that you cook in water and eat for breakfast like oatmeal. I like to eat them with butter and salt. My husband and I recently finished a bag of grits, and I was sad to see the muslin bag they came in go to waste, so I decided to re-purpose it.

mise en place

I sewed the top inch of the bag down and threaded two lengths of cord through to make a drawstring bag.


Voila! Fastest project ever, and it is the perfect size for socks.

Happy Christmas to All

It’s Christmas Eve and I am knitting for me. It’s glorious. No deadlines. No weeping softly as I try to weave in ends and block handknits before gifts are given tomorrow. I should do this every year.

I’m knitting Favorki by Agata Skektala out of my own handspun. This yarn is so round and soft and alive! I love it! It’s knitting up into the most touchable fabric. I’m learning to be a better cable knitter..slowly but surely. The last time I cabled was just after I learned to knit, and cables have scared me ever since. So this is the project that will (hopefully) teach me to love cables. Because I really want this hat.


Also, I have a new project bag! Made by SewFlo.


So Nerdy! Made of heavy-duty fabric. This bag will stand the test of time. I’m beginning a collection of nerdy project bags.


Coming Soon…

My husband and I wrote a few funny vows for our wedding. Predictably, one of mine was that I promised to knit for him…whether he liked it or not. When we went yarn shopping on our honeymoon I convinced him to pick out some yarn. At least that way he would be sure to like the colours. He chose Zauberball (smart man). I’m planning to knit him a hat. After careful consultation this is the pattern we came up with. Lots of plain old boring ribbing. And not even interesting decreases (believe me, I tried). So watch this space. A hat is coming soon.


Also, look at this amazing project I got from Good Stuff Crafts! I love Doctor Who, as you know, and I have wanted this Exploding Tardis print for quite a while. My current wallspace is rather limited, so a project bag is the perfect application! This bag holds 2 yarn cakes in the bottom with room for 2 more above and/or your project.


As you do

So I’m working away steadily on my Farrah Fawcett sweater (which is coming along beautifully, thank you for asking) when I realize that the sweater is growing. Like, a lot. Now this is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but I need something to carry this baby behemoth around in so it doesn’t snag on things in my purse. Like keys. And pens.

I am also cheap (We’ve talked about this before. It’s not going to change). So instead of buying a bag made by some fabulous individual, I had a rummage through my fabric stash and decided to make a bag myself. I came up with less than a yard of this beautiful butter yellow…stuff. It’s synthetic and lightweight, but I love the colour and it doesn’t cost money, so that works for me.

I sewed the bag by hand because:

  • My sewing machine is not working correctly
  • I have free time at work when I can work on personal projects
  • I actually enjoy hand-sewing

The fabric is really tightly woven, which made my hands hurt a little, but because it’s synthetic I heat-sealed the edges so I didn’t have to do any more sewing (Yes, I like playing with fire. No, I don’t think this is a problem).

So here’s what I came up with: