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Valley Vogue Collections Art Blog

Initial Stages in Handwoven Design

by valleyvogue , April 3, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: artists, customers, designing, handwoven, jacket, wearable art, weaving

As handweavers, my business partner and I have to compete in a world with a plethora of manufactured and imported goods. Obviously, we cannot offer goods that are less expensive or carry mass quantities. We struggle to make clothing that bests what the market offers in areas of quality, workmanship and design. We use the finest and most unusual fibers, dye them using creative and unusual color schemes and craft them using our own patterns. To do this, we spend months perfecting each line item. This is only the beginning as our final product is field tested for longevity, comfortability and timeliness. That is why we cringe when our final price tag has to reflect the cost of materials and labor. We are not our target market. We can make clothing for an upscale market but certainly cannot count ourselves in this bracket.

For those that are in our target market, we hope that this article helps you appreciate the garment you can purchase. For those that are not in our target market, we hope that this article is interesting. Handweaving is an art form that goes back to ancient Egypt and beyond. As modern day weavers, we try our best to stay true to our historic roots yet reach for new trends in our art. We hope to be learned, current, adventuresome and novel.

This year we found ourselves with a full stock and a shrinking and timid market. At the same time, we purchased an older loom that takes us to a new learning curve. We gave ourselves permission to take the year off from weaving to sell and concentrated on designing the perfect jacket.

Weeks pouring over catalogs and visiting mill outlets resulted in a final choice of fibers for our jacket. Merino wool and silk for their warmth and compatibility with our dyes of choice, wool boucle for its texture and interest and bamboo for its softness and most envious absence of color - black. Simultaneously, we designed a pattern to mock up in muslin.

Next, we researched future colors in fashion and developed our palette for dyeing. Playing with our dyes, we managed to replicate our color pencil samples. Once we were happy with the dyes, we dyed our fiber for sampling on the loom. The samples provided us with information on threading, spacing, washing, shrinkage and structure. Meanwhile our jacket of muslin dictated the amount of fabric in width and length for each jacket as well as its suitability for our design.

Our next tasks are the mechanics - weaving and sewing our garment. Stay tuned for news of the final product.




  Mary Lawler ( homepage )

04/05/2009 * 20:54:49

I think it's great that you are sharing your process in your blog.The consumer has know way of knowing how much goes into the development of a single piece, never mind and entire line, unless you tell them. One of the advantages of buying artisan pieces is that they often include their bio and a bit about the development and process behind their work. They are more apt to accept the price tag with less apprehension. This is also great for me to know when I am selling your pieces in the gallery.People really want to know!!!


  Rebecca Wise Girson ( homepage )

04/04/2009 * 07:25:09

This is facinating! I am exausted just reading about your process, but your work certainly reflects the effort. Beautiful!

Thanks for going into so much detail. It really is very interesting.


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