Weaving Fabric for Garments

by Margaret Montgomery

My journey – overcoming the fear of cutting into handwoven fabric and how the techniques used have evolved.

Weaving is great fun and it is so rewarding to sew using something I have woven. Concerns:  Will the woven fabric fall apart when I cut into it? Should the fabric be stabilized? How should it be stabilized? How to prevent fraying of cut edges? If I plan to weave fabric for a garment how much fabric should I weave? If my loom is only 25” wide will that be wide enough to make a garment?

Stabilizing handwoven fabric

For some handwoven fabric I have stabilized the entire garment.  I have used a lightweight fusible sheer Tricot knit. This does change the hand of the fabric but it is a tradeoff made due to the loose weave and softness of the handwoven fabric and the structure needed for the garment. Unfortunately, if you look closely at the front border and facing of the turquoise vest the white interfacing does show through. Lesson learned!

This vest was woven on a rigid heddle loom, plain weave,

The jacket (pictured below) was also entirely stabilized with the iron in interfacing. The fabric is heavy and loose woven and the garment needed this extra structure.  Both garments were completely lined to “hide” the interfacing!

Fabric for this jacket was woven on a rigid heddle loom, plain weave.

Stabilizing cutting lines.

Next, I wove a variety of novelty yarns and ribbons into fabric. I thought about stabilizing the fabric as I had with the previous garments but was concerned that this would “flatten” the appearance of the ribbons, potentially show through to the front of a garment, and change the drape. After some trial and error, I found that I could serge the edges of the cut fabric and this stabilized the pattern pieces. For some handwoven fabrics a zig zag stitch is more effective. Trial and error is the name of the game.

Another method to prevent fraying is to use fusible bias cut interfacing tape. It comes in a variety of widths. The intent is to place the tape along the edge of cut fabric to hold it in place so you can then zig zag or serge the edge of the fabric before sewing the garment. The bias tape was applied to both sides of the seam allowance. (One side may be enough but I was still afraid that the fabric would fray.)  The bias tape provides a nice finished edge to the seam allowance. For this jacket I used a ½ in. bias tape but you could theoretically use a wider bias tape (3/4 to 1 in.) to stabilize the seam as well, if the fabric needs that additional support.

Ladder ribbon jacket seam detail

At the beginning of my weaving/ sewing journey I wove fabric and then decided on what to make. Now that I have a little more experience and have found ways to stabilize seams and fabric more effectively. It is no longer necessary to think in terms of “rectangles” for fashioning garments out of handwoven fabric.

I have used handwoven “scraps” for other sewing projects. It is a pleasure to use handwoven fabric for other projects when I have overestimated how much fabric I need for a garment.

Look familiar?
Vest scraps!

Or have obvious errors in my weaving that need to be used in projects that minimize their visibility.

Overshot pattern. Woven on 8 shaft Mighty Wolf loom.

Happy weaving and sewing!

Margaret Montgomery

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5 thoughts on “Weaving Fabric for Garments”

  1. Margaret, you are truly amazing! These are works of art. You did a beautiful job on all of them. I’m so glad you are part of Plano now. Hopefully some of your talent will rub off on me. 🙂

  2. I love everyone of these jackets. Your expertise is amazing, and my definite go-to with my weaving queries.

  3. I love every one of these jackets. Your expertise is amazing, and my definite go-to with my weaving queries.

  4. The garments are fabulous. Do you find they hold the structure after multiple wears? Are you planning to dry clean or spot clean? What aee some of the best weaving patterns for harments?

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