Monday, January 18, 2016

Woven Purses

I saw a purse slung around a woman's neck at the farmers' market, and I instantly thought, "I want to make one of those." It was a smallish, square purse with a long strap, the kind that fit snug against your hip.
I've learned that generally the warp yarn does not become the dominant color in a piece; the weft yarn does. So I chose a muted gray for the entire warp and a bright red for the weft. Both are Simply Soft brand.
I didn't choose a complicated pattern -- gray weft pairs with a single line of black for interest.
Then near the top I ran a few shots of this railroad yarn to give it some texture.

I was guessing (I know, that's bad) about how wide to make my warp for the width of the purse. From the last blue scarf project, it seemed I would need about 70 warp threads. I'm not very good at this stuff yet. But when I'd warped on only 60 I felt it was too much, so I stopped. I'm probably not counting correctly. But the end result was that I had a piece Way Too Wide for a little square purse. My plan had been to weave it the width of the purse but twice as long, and fold it in half, putting the fold along the bottom of the purse. The difficulty with that is that I'd have to weave the pattern so that the lines of gray and black lined up with each other when I folded it.
As usual I asked Julia what she thought. She said, "Why not fold the piece in half down the middle instead, and make the purse half the width?" Brilliant! The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The stripes would automatically line up! But ... I'd warped on enough yarn to fold the purse the other way -- to put the fold on the bottom of the purse instead of on the side of the purse. So I have all this warp left over. Hmm. Then I remembered a video I'd seen where a weaver said you can make multiple projects, one after another, using the same warp, as long as your warp is long enough -- stack the projects on top of each other. Just put a big spacer in the shed between projects so you can finish off your ends.
So I tried it.
I finished purse #1 weaving, cut a piece of cardboard and slid it above the top edge of the work, in the shed. Then I simply started in on the next purse. The fringe of the first purse will be on the bottom edge of the weave, and the fringe for the second purse will be at the very end of the weave. So, the two purses are head-to-head, so to speak, while on the loom.
I wove the second purse (similar to the first one), and removed the entire work from the loom. Then I cut the yarn in the middle to separate the two purses ...
The second purse, as I'm cutting ...
 The first purse, cut free ...
Now, to begin the finishing work! Second purse -- the long fringe is the bottom of the purse. I'll stitch up the side to close it. I'll have to find some way to finish off the top of the purse and hide all those gray yarn ends.
Purse #1. I'm tidying up edges, tying the gray stripes together. Tying small knots along the top to hold the edge in.

Should I roll the edge over, enclosing the yarn ends that way? No.
Of course, the best way to conceal these ends is simply to line the purse with fabric. The fabric will cover those ends entirely.
Closing up the side seam:
I enclosed the bottom of the purse by tying good knots using all the fringe from both sides of the purse. The full liner in it will prevent anything from falling out of this purse.
I tacked down the top edge. Then I worked on the bottom fringe. I sat for two hours on the couch last night, carefully putting some beads on that fringe.
If you ever wonder why you pay more for a handmade item than for one from WalMart, this is why:  two hours just to put beading on. A factory somewhere would have a faster machine method to do thousands of yards of yarn and beads at a time. I don't know that a machine can tie knots. Some people just want a purse and they really don't care who made it or how it was made. The personal touches don't mean as much to them -- and that's okay! But some people truly enjoy an item precisely because there is a person, an artisan, behind it. It adds to the joy, and that's worth paying for all that time on the couch, beading :)
I like the upper edge.
Inside edge:
This morning I worked on the purse some more. I tidied up the fringe on the bottom.

 And I put the liner in the inside.

Now I only have to make a long i-cord for the strap and attach it, and it's done. I'll keep you posted on that.


Kezzie said...

That is brilliant!!x

Lisa Richards said...

Very cute! You're right. It's worth the extra money when you know what goes into it!

Gumbo Lily said...

I LOVE it!!!! Fringe is all the rage now in bags. I really like yours. The woven look is so appealing. Great size too. Not too big, but a nice satchel to put your wallet, chapstick, and phone in. It would be cute with a drawstring too! Fun!

Mary Ann Potter said...

This is just wonderful,M.K.! Your skills and artistry are obvious here. Impressive post. Pretty purse!

Una said...

Phew! A lot of work, but it has turned out beautifully.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Wow lady, you are going full speed ahead with your weaving. Nice job and I bet you could sell these at your market. You could even make larger ones as a market bag.

Happy Weaving ~ FlowerLady