Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bodice Ribbons

It seems I'm not content to keep doing the same type of project for very long.  I seem to always have a half dozen things I want to weave and yet I go and start new, really long projects.  My latest insanity is to weave with thread.  Not yarn, not crochet thread, but sewing thread.  I had more reason than the ever present curiosity of wondering what a fiber looks like woven.

I decided it would be fun for ladies to be able to add patterns where before there could only be solid colors.  Those shiny ribbons everyone is so familiar with whose ever laced a bodice come in every color of the rainbow.  But they only come in solid colors.  And the shiny isn't always a desired look.  So I started weaving ribbons for lacing.  They could be used on gloves, bodices, boots, anywhere in a costume people throw on a bit of lacing.

Though I haven't strength tested them yet, I think they are at least as durable as anything bought in a store.  The edges won't fray from rubbing because it's thread, not yarn.  I'm still trying to figure out how to prove in a picture they are strong.  But my wife no longer fits her bodice (in a good way :) and I'm not going to wear it, so I have to find something else.

This is what I have for now:

While time consuming, these were not nearly as difficult to weave as I'd imagined.  Being so skinny, they also didn't take overly long to warp either.  The first on, the blue, varies in width a lot more than I'd like.  I know the trick of switching sheds before pulling the last bit of weft through but that adds so much time to each row.  I just wasn't getting it to go smoothly.  It also didn't seem to help that much.

The thing that helped the most is to pull the weft tight at the same angle every time.  I've noticed with all my weavings that the right side is always very straight and the other side is where I have issues.  This seemed odd to me since it means it's my left hand pulling so you'd think I have less control (I'm right handed)  I don't know if it's the way I sit or what, but I realized it's because I always pull toward the same point with that hand.  The other hand, sometimes I pull straight across, sometimes almost directly toward myself.  So I'm trying now to always pull both sides at a 45 degree angle to the warp (with zero being toward myself)

The third ribbon I've done I don't have pictures of yet but the width consistency was much better.

I'm hoping more people will start weaving these.  I have no idea how to market them because I can't find that they exist anywhere else.  There are so few people that weave.  I wonder if the few that do are intimidated by the thought of it or if they just don't think there's a need.  Personally I want to design outfits for my wife just for her to be able to use these.  I think they're great and I'd like to see more exist then just the ones I make.

Did I say they took forever?  Well, longer than other projects sure.  But the 8 yard blue ribbon took between one and two weeks and the pink about a week.  It was no worse than the celtic knot pick up in cotton.  So ya, it's lengthy but it's doable.

Anyway, here's some more pictures to hopefully inspire you into weaving your own.  With the exception of six threads, they are 100% polyester because I've read cotton can fade more readily in the sun and rayon is a pain to care for.  Polyester has a further advantage of being both strong and cheap.

The difference in row widths, visible in both bands, is due to tension differences.  When the warp was tighter, the weft packed more tightly.  I decided it actually looked fun and only tried to make it flow smoothly.  I didn't try to get rid of it.  Careful tension control should eliminate this if you don't like it.  But since this thread doesn't stretch and there's a lot of shrinkage, you have to be pretty fussy to keep the tension just so.

Here you can see the red.  I thought being so shiny the red would show up better but don't bother.  At this detail level they both look pink from any further back.

This detail; however, I like even though you have to be close to see it.  That orange dot is just one thread.  And the middle is dark green while the outside is navy.  I think it gives a soft feel and is at least somewhat discernible at a distance of a couple feet.

Both of these ribbons are about 60 warps wide.  That means only around 30 heddles.  It's actually faster to warp than the wide cotton bands I've done.  The only tricky part is tying the threads together when switching colors.  For the pink I cheated a little and put on all the heddle warps first, then slipped the free warps inbetween.  For my third one I cheated even more and just did vertical lines.


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