Kodachrome was my response to the Handwoven Garment Challenge in 2011. Ten garments, five loom-shaped and five tailored, would be selected to appear in the Vav Fashion show in Sweden, and would be published in Handwoven. I decided it would be fun to enter, and Kodachrome was born.
I considered my design carefully. At Convergence 2010, I had noticed that the best runway garments were the dramatic ones, with lots of color ““ delicate, beautiful, subtle patterns simply vanished from forty feet away. I wanted Kodachrome to play well on the runway, but I also wanted it to reward the close-up viewer. So I knew I wanted a colorful project, with bold colors, but also with an interesting woven pattern to reward the up-close viewer.
There were other design considerations. Because (if it won) it would be published in Handwoven, I had to make it suitable for a Handwoven article. This meant weaving something on eight shafts or less (as opposed to my customary 24), using commercially available yarn, a commercial pattern, and using techniques simple enough to explain in three magazine pages or less. It also had to be designed, woven, and sewn in just two and a half months, since the contest began in mid-January and finished up on April 1.
Given the timeframe, I didn’t have a lot of time to experiment or design. I decided to use a painted warp, as this could be done quickly with yarns I had in my stash, and to use 30/2 silk, because I had gobs of it on hand. But I didn’t want to do a warp painted in a single bout ““ the scarves I’d seen that were wound in just one bout looked boring and predictable, and I wanted this piece to be jazzy and exciting. So I decided to use stripes, each warp-painted in the same colors, but offset from each other so the colors wouldn’t “pool”.
Now I needed a pattern to go with the stripes of color. I didn’t have much experience with 8-shaft designs, so I flipped through Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of Eight-Shaft Patterns until I found design #173, an advancing point twill. I liked the overall look, but it didn’t quite suit my needs, so I made significant alterations to it, changing the look and the size of the pattern to suit the width of my stripes.
Since painted warps were unfamiliar ground, I decided to sample. I painted six bouts for a 12″³ wide sample, testing different color spacings as well as different amounts of dye. Here are the samples:
The left-hand sample had less dye, the right-hand sample had more dye. In the left sample, I experimented with having the colors semirandomly arranged in the piece; in the right sample, I tried to line the colors up more precisely.
I finally decided that I liked the more intense colors and the semirandom arrangement of colors in the stripes, and wove up 13 yards of this delightful fabric:
Meanwhile, I had been working with Sharon Bell (the seamstress who helped me with my wedding dress) to develop the pattern for the coat. We selected a simple pattern, Butterick 5259: