Both at the same time, a couple of my online sewing buddies discovered and shared with me a beautiful woven fabric basket, made entirely from carefully cut and folded fabric strips. Terry Ann from Atkinson Designs shared how she made some woven baskets from pre-cut strips and immediately we all said – we've got to do something with that idea!
I'm mostly all about sewing clothes, and the technique didn't really immediately lend itself to clothing, but an idea did spring to mind. For some time, I've been meaning to sew a small cushion for my sewing chair. When I sit for a while, with the one leg extended and hunched for hours over my sewing projects, I do get some back ache and wanted to sew a small pillow to go behind me as I sew.
Immediately, this seemed the perfect idea. It would be lovely to create a pillow that showcased some of the fabrics I had used over the past 12 months, and use up some of those scraps I had left around which were too small to do much with. At the moment, I feel I'm doing things in reverse! Maybe when you start to sew, you start out with a pillow project, yet here I am having never made one. I winged it and it all came out just perfectly!
Making a woven fabric pillow
I started with the fabric strips. I didn't have the luxury of the pre-cut strips so I had to get out my mat and rotary cutter and make my own. I had only cut a couple at 2.5 inches wide, and was pressing them and getting all hot and steamy, when it occurred to me there had to be a better and faster way.
Only earlier this month I shared about my learning experiences with making continuous bias tape and using the Clover bias tape gizmo. Now if I just cut the strips at 2 inches wide they would fit the tape maker and I'd have them pressed into shape in no time! No need for bias, I just cut some 2 inches strips on the straight grain, fed them through the tape maker and pressed as they came out to make perfect 1 inch fabric strips with nice neat edges. Voila!
I made a total of 28 strips.
Now to weave them onto a fabric backing. I had a remnant piece of some nice sturdy thick white cotton and I fused on a large square of Heat N Bond Ultrahold. I roughly laid out my vertical strips and then starting at the bottom right, I wove in a horizontal strip.
For each horizontal strip I wove in, I fired up my iron and pressed the strip across, fusing the alternate pieces to the backing fabric using the Heat N Bond. Another row, fuse again. Repeat, then repeat again. I had been worried it would all get out of shape, but by using the bias making tool, I had nice straight even strips and it kept its square shape perfectly.
Eventually all of the strips were woven in and fused and I turned it over and ironed from the back to make sure everything was held in place. I didn't want it all to come loose and floppy later on.
Then another new lesson for me – I made piping! I don't know why I've been putting this off – it really wasn't hard at all. I had some bias tape hanging around (about 100 yards of it because I got all carried away with the bias tool earlier this month), and I use some spare washing line cord from the kitchen drawer. I basted the piping around the edge of the pillow, trying to keep fairly square to the edges I had woven.
A simple overlapping envelope finish for the back, first one side, then the other. I trimmed, clipped, overcast the edges and turned.
Oooh, it's lovely! Pop in my pillow form and its done. I tried it out right away and it feels just the right size for my lower back and should add some much needed comfort for my marathon sewing sessions.
Got some fabric scraps? Certainly give this project a try.
Becky from Patchwork Posse made her panel into this cute zipper pouch. I love the open weave she has used that really showcases all of the strips and the way it is woven together.
Heather from the Sewing Loft used her fabric weaving to create something both practical and beautiful. Take a look at her lovely pincushion. The purple and green is a really eye-catching combo.
This technique can be time consuming, but use one of those bias tape makers to speed it up and its a good use of your odds and ends of fabric.
What ideas do you have for how you might create and use a panel made from woven fabric strips?
Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy