Woven as one

As I mentioned in “Moda sure knows how to put on a good party,” the blog post below from April 13, I had the opportunity to meet Kaari Meng of French General. I came home from Moda University and reread all her books becoming more enthralled with her gentle French styling. I don’t know how the subject came up, except we were at a fabric company talking textiles, but Kaari explained to me how wonderful it was to sleep on linen or hemp sheets — especially old linen or hemp sheets. I had recently been on a search for good, sturdy cotton sheets like my grandmother used to have — you know the kind that will last 30 years, not just a couple. So, after meeting Kaari, I began searching eBay and etsy for French linens. Not only can you buy French linens but you can buy hand-woven, 100-year-old french linens! Although they are not exactly sized for today’s mattresses, they could be made to work. The thought of owning and using something that is already 100 years old woven by another woman’s hands, and usable is very appealing.

I still have not found the perfect bed linens, but I did purchase a smaller piece of 100-plus-year-old, unused, hand-woven French linen. It is still stiff and needs to be loved some, but what I found so appealing was being able to easily see the weaving. The texture of the individual threads — the warp and the weft — is fascinating. They are uneven, full of slubs and imperfections, yet woven together as one into a fine, sturdy cloth meant to last almost an eternity, getting even better and better with age despite its individual handwoven irregularities.

Anyway, where this story is going is — seeing the interweaving, the texture, the pattern, I wondered, what it would look like if I tried weaving strips of printed fabric, and this is where the idea for the FREE-to-use pattern in the current issue of American Quilt Retailer came from. You were curious weren’t you?

Many fabric companies now offer pre-cut strips, and many designers have patterns for sewing these strips in pieced quilts. But, weaving with them is something different! And the results are wonderful — I can’t wait to actually finish mine! A simple way to market this idea, is to make a small sample. You need not make the entire piece to generate interest. I used a large cork bulletin board as a support while I did the weaving. You could use a small cork board and make a smaller piece to demonstrate the process. Leave the strips pinned on the board (this is where mine still are!), and prop the board up on a small tabletop easel. Select a simple, plain fabric for the table cover. The weaving and the baskets will be visually busy enough. 

Stack a lot of pre-cuts next to the display. Be sure to read Joanna Figueroa’s OnDisplay in this issue — it’s all about grouping items in large quantities for maximum impact (and, yes, there is a typo in the headline — stuff happens, and these imperfections keep me humble). Put some of the pre-cuts in baskets. Try to find baskets which have a heavily-textured weave to accentuate the weaving process. I’ve seen baskets like this in the Pottery Barn catalog, but I’ll bet you can find less-expensive ones at a place like Hobby Lobby or Garden Ridge. Texture is big right now! 

If you have a strip cutter in the shop, you could pre-cut and kit strips, making use of some slower moving fabric or fabrics that have out-lived the rest of their “group.” You might even let customers make fabric selections, and you could use the cutter to custom cut the strips for them to pick up later. Do be sure to charge extra for the service, it’s a valuable time-saver allowing someone to get right down to the fun part — the weaving! You might even rent time on your cutter. Allow customers to cut their own strips from their own stash — if they can diminish their stash, they may need more fabric!

There is something sort of magical about weaving — it’s a wonderful metaphor for so many things in life. The individual threads are nothing until they are joined together “woven as one.” My chance meeting with Kaari Meng of French General, sparked this pattern design. It in turn is hopefully something you can share with your customers. You can teach someone a new skill, sell them some fabric or help them use up their stash — in a way — weaving us all together.


PS —The new American Quilt Retailer is mailing today! And, so you won’t miss anything, remember to click in the upper right-hand corner of this page to receive a notice whenever there’s a new blog post .

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