I went up to see Sharon yesterday, and she agreed that it would be loads of fun to enter the Handwoven Garment challenge together. So we are doing it!
We looked through a bunch of patterns yesterday, with an eye to (1) what would look good on me, (2) what would likely look good on a model on the fashion floor (keeping in mind that I am way shorter and heavier than most models!), and (3) be simple enough that a Handwoven reader could sew up easily. (I.e., no wedding dresses!) While I’m still letting things percolate, I’m leaning towards this pattern, Butterick 5259:
Simple, classic, elegant, and looks good on most people. What’s not to like?
But I have also ordered a few more patterns that might suit, and will re-evaluate once they arrive.
I am also considering design and fabric. I wanted to use 2/28 nm pure cashmere, as I have quite a bit of it, but a quick check on prices revealed that commercial/retail prices on cashmere are running about $18-35/oz, which is prohibitively expensive for most readers! (I buy mine semi-wholesale as a mill end and pay about $54/lb, which, while not super-cheap, is about 1/5 the cheapest retail price!) So I spent one evening fruitlessly searching for a wool equivalent. Finally I found a commercial, cheap price for a silk/cashmere blend about the same size as one of my mill ends: Yubina Yarn Store. At $14.99 per 125 gram skein, it works out to about $54/lb, just a little more than my mill end supplier! (They also sell a pretty cheap 100% cashmere yarn, but it’s heavier than I want.) So it looks like I can use some cash/silk from my stash. Hooray!
Now, fabric design. My silk/cashmere mix, especially if fulled in the washer, produces a delightfully thick, soft fabric. (Not as luscious as pure cashmere, but not bad either.) I will have to test it again with the Yubina yarn (I ordered one skein to weave up as a sample), but if that works, it should be perfect for the coat. As for pattern, I am leaning towards a painted silk warp and a black cashmere/silk weft. Colors, striping, etc. are totally up in the air. I need to run some Photoshop simulations to see what looks good. For pattern, I am considering an advancing twill, possibly with points. It may be too “busy” when combined with a painted warp, so again, I will do simulations before launching into anything.
Since I haven’t done a full-length painted warp before, or designed with complex color, I think this should be interesting! The one thing that is puzzling me is how to beam a painted warp back to front when you can’t put in a raddle cross or have loops at the back end (I’m using the AVL Warping Wheel and there’s no provision for doing a raddle cross), especially on a sectional beam. I can tie off the cut ends of the warp, but that’s not the same as having loops. I’d also like to be able to mix the two warps in random proportions – does that mean I’m stuck with front-to-back warping?
If anyone can suggest something, I’d appreciate it – I’ve never done this kind of painted-warp weaving before!