Weaving an apron in one piece
Warning – this is a long post!
The weaving challenge I set for myself was to weave an apron – in one piece on one warp. That meant weaving one of the ties, then weaving the skirt of the apron complete with a waistband and gathers in the skirt, and then weaving the other tie. Note that the gathers are created during the weaving, not later.
Here is the result! There are some mistakes and some parts that I’m not totally happy with, but this was a proof of concept piece and in general I’m happy that I was able to do it. At one point, I came very close to just cutting it off the loom and throwing it away! But I’m glad I didn’t.
For the ties and the waistband I put on a 3 yard warp of 10/2 cotton in a dark blue. For the skirt I put on a 2 yard warp of 10/2 light blue cotton, with a small band of dark blue near the bottom of the skirt. The weft was 5/2 cotton in a golden tan color, with two vertical light blue stripes at each side of the apron.
My loom didn’t have two warp beams, and because I want to do more of this kind of thing and not be limited to two warp beams, I invented a kind of beam that can act as multiple beams by adding parts as needed. I also had to do the same thing with the cloth beam, since I was going to be weaving the apron ties alone, then the waistband and skirt, and then the last tie again.
As for the drafting, I used a simple 8 shaft M & W pattern. I used shafts 1 – 8 for the skirt since there were a lot more threads for the skirt than for the ties and waistband and that would be easier to thread. I used shafts 9 – 16 for the ties. But I also had to deal with the sides of the skirt, which would require some sort of hem. A friend suggested a two layer double weave so that I could fold both sides inward and have a less bulky seam. But, I also had to do the tabby packing, which would be happening at different times on ties than on the waistband and the skirt. And since this loom is a dobby, I couldn’t just treddle as I wanted for the packing – everything had to be in the draft. And finally, because of the pattern, I had to worry about the pattern, getting the vertical stripes (light blue) added at the same point left and right, etc. etc.
As a result I ended up with three drafts. The first one I used for the apron ties and it repeated over and over creating the proper pattern, using shafts 9 - 16. The second draft made the apron skirt and the gathered waistband, using shafts 1 – 16. The third draft was for the packing at the beginning and ending of the apron ties and the apron skirt. It was necessary to have a separate draft for the backing since the two other drafts repeated over and over, and the packing was just tabby. I also needed a draft for the two layer double weave that I wanted to start and end the sides of the skirt, so I just put all of these “housekeeping” draft parts into one file. Creating all the drafts and making sure that the pattern repeated properly as I switched from one to the other probably took half a much time at the weaving itself!
Here is the result. The only hand work I needed to do once it was off the loom was to finish the ends of the apron ties, and finish the sides by folding the double weave to the center and hemming. I also stitched the double weave to the waistband since the weaving of it required a slit between the double weave and the bottom of the waistband.