Hi All

I am planning to make a pair of trousers for myself from handwoven fabric, although this fabric does not yet exist! I have a pattern that I like which is very simple - basically two pieces - but it is designed in expectation of a 60" fabric width and I can't weave a cloth that wide.

It seems to me that the easiest thing to do is to weave double the length that I need to a 31" width, or thereabouts, and then stitch the fabric into a 60" width before I start the pattern, otherwise I will be fiddling about with half pieces and extra seams in the construction stage.

Is this sensible or am I missing something obvious?

Any hints on how to approach this would be very welcome, thanks!



tien (not verified)

That will work.  Daryl Lancaster recommends butting the selvages together (if your selvages are nice enough) and says that it's nearly invisible and much less bulky.  When I did my wedding dress, though, I didn't have selvages nice enough so I stitched it together very carefully, matching the pattern precisely.  It was only pieced together right at the hem and the piecing didn't show unless you knew it was there and were looking for it.

I would recommend laying out the pieces before weaving the fabric.  Most patterns are designed to be cut out of a length of fabric folded down the center, in which case you could cut it out of a 31" strip.  However, you might have to change the layout of the pieces and the total yardage.  So get a piece of 30" cheap fabric (fold a 60" piece in half if you need to), pin all the pattern pieces to it, and see (1) whether they all fit and (2) what the yardage is.  Take a photo of the layout if you're worried about being able to reproduce it later.

I would also piece together ONLY those pieces that require it, rather than the total length of the fabric.  The only downside to this is that you would have to lay out the pattern pieces verrrry carefully (cut one and then lay it out beside the other before cutting the second piece) so you can match the patterns before sewing the pieces together.  But doing it that way will (I feel) make matching the patterns precisely much easier.

Weave 2-3 extra yards of fabric to take into consideration (1) shrinkage in the finished warp (ideally you should sample and THEN add an extra yard or two) and (2) "spare" fabric in case you make a mis-cut.  You can't just run out to the fabric store to get more! and it would be a real PITA to have to warp up the loom AGAIN to weave a small piece.

One other tip that I got from the seamstress who helped me work on my wedding dress: if you have motifs, make sure you place the motifs in a flattering location and matched as best you can.  Large motifs on the breasts can be a problem later...;-)

Anyway, I hope  that was helpful!


Cally (not verified)

That's very helpful, yes! Thanks Tien.

I have plenty of weird cheap fabric in the cupboard so I will do as you suggest and take pictures.

My selvedges are generally OK, but as the part which I would need to piece together is the outside of the trouser leg I am not overly worried about a seam - in the first place, most trousers I have made have a seam there anyway, and in the second place there is gathering above the ankle which I trust will disguise a multitude of sins!!


Aunt Janet (not verified)

 Hi Callie,

   I just took a fitting and pattern workshop from Daryl Lancaster.  We were working on a jacket pattern, but this might also apply to your trousers.  As Tien said she recommended butting selvages together and stitching them, so you won't have a bulky seam.  She also suggested that we do that under the arm where both the sleeve and jacket are wide, and where anything that might show will be hidden.  you are saying that you have to piece the outside of the trousers.  Is it possible that you can do the graft on the inside of the leg?  That would be like a gusset, and possibly hidden in the crotch.  There might be less to graft in that area, leaving the outside of the leg with the best part of your fabric.

   Good luck on your project.  Now I have to lay out my jacket on a narrow piece of handspun handwoven fabric, only 18" wide!


Cally (not verified)

Hi Janet - how lucky you are to be able to take one of Daryl's workshops! I would love to minimise seams and the visibility thereof, but the width constraint means that I will have to have both an inside seam and an outside seam in any case. Which one is the pieced one and which is the "normal" construction one will depend on which pattern I decide to use.

Choices, choices!

Hope your jacket puzzle goes well - and that you'll tell us how you made it work!

Daryl (not verified)

Hi Cally, thought I'd throw in my two sense here.   First things first.  Make the pants out of junk fabric first.  Patterns call for 60" wide fabric, mostly because that's what's available now.  Even if you have 60" hips, more than likely, a pants pattern in two pieces with no side seam would be using only half the width of fabric.  Find out how wide the actual piece is, and take it from there.  The crotch area would hang over the selvedges if anything, and those can easily be butt together like I described for the underarm of the sleeve, by butting selvedges.

A pair of pants with no side seam is usually shapeless and probably has elastic at the waist.  A muslin will tell you first if you are going to like the pants at all.  Butting selvedges should be done when there won't be any stress on the fabric, and butting at the side seams might not be the best idea.  There is stress around the seat on a pair of pants, unless they are really loose and baggy, so Cally, I agree, a regular seam with the selvedge as the seam finish would make sense.  And you can add a little shaping over the hip.

One other thing.  I didn't mention this in my Sunday morning critique of the fashion show at CNCH, but I did mention it during the jacket pattern workshop, always cut your handwoven fabric singly.  Cut out half the pattern and then flip it for the other half.  Handwoven fabric is too unpredictable to trust that the layer underneath, when you fold it, will be exactly grain perfect.  Two or three threads off on the crosswise grain will cause the garment to hang wrong.  I've seen it happen too many times.

Good luck with this, and send photos!

Cally (not verified)

Thanks Daryl, that's a really useful sanity check. I was lying awake the other night laying out patterns in my head and wondering how big my hips would need to be to require a 60" fabric width!

Since I am going to be laying out the pieces on a spare piece of fabric, as Tien suggests, then I think the next logical step is to follow your advice and make a muslin to see how the pattern turns out. And I like that plan because I can use the experience to help me design the fabric too.


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