WEFTY Fabric Weaving Class: Prints Done Right!

I had the pleasure of teaching my Tumbling Triplets class to over a dozen members of the Madison Sewing Guild recently. Predominantly garment sewists, this group deviated from my usual groups of quilters. Quilters typically catch on to putting shapes together to create a block, so once they see how a triaxial weave is made up of 60 degree diamonds, they’re off and running. Garment sewists have their own super power, as I quickly learned. Their selection of prints are out of this world! They did such an amazing job, and I wanted to share some of their work in this blog post.

What you’ll see in these photos are examples of successfully using prints to showcase the dimensional nature of weaving. Without a contrast in gradients, the design would fall flat and we wouldn’t see the tumbling bock, or maybe even be able to tell if the piece is woven. I love how in a successful woven tumbling block looks like the light is shining from the top left side down onto the board, and the texture of the weave is evident to the eye.


Instead of tumbling blocks, the weave above will consist of three hexagons. This was a stunner the minute this student completed the second layer, and it just got better from here. The silver, purple, and black all contrasted in the best way. This is a great example of finding prints that read as solid, but have enough design to add interest and texture.


Who knew these nine fabrics together would create three sets of tumbling blocks? I certainly didn’t when student Lou Berryman asked me to help her find the tonal gradation of the fabrics. We used the Mono filter on my iPhone’s camera to do our best at finding the light, medium, and darks of each color. Then we shrugged and laughed because we just weren’t sure. But it works! The blocks are evident. This weave is filled with fabrics of various substrates that create a whole other layer of texture. A piece like this is exciting to interact with!


Expert weaver Eileen Kellor looked for the perfect gold brushed stripe to match the gold plus signs in her plum print, then added a fun, bright stripe into the mix. Her weave is three hexagons that contrast nicely, with the brushed gold creating an interesting negative space for the bright prints. The scale of these prints is important, as they fill the one inch space quite nicely.


The print in this weave stands alone, swimming among two matching gradient solids. Katherine Tutcher created a serene beauty! The flowy print overlapping in the woven hexagons adds just the right amount of secondary pattern.


This weave for me is another great example of small scale prints that read as solids. Tone on tones, one-color batiks, tiny prints - these fabrics work so well together to create the gradient dimension necessary in a weave!


Everyone in class loved the secondary design found in the swirly grey hexagons of this solid version of the Tumbling Triplets pattern. The way this student surrounded the grey hexagons with light and dark purple ones reminds me of a Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt!


This student expressed frustration at mixing around strips. I couldn’t see where this weave wasn’t exactly as it should be, but she had another vision in mind. This always makes me feel awful! But I do love this. I see a shiny, robust, and exciting design here. It’s got the dimension of tumbling blocks and so much texture and pattern as well! This is a weave that dances, and I would put this, mistake or not, in the successful use of prints pile!


This purple weave is simply beautiful. I’m not sure there’s anything more to say about it. This is a gorgeous and perfect mix of floral, check, and solid. Sometimes pattern mixing is so pleasant to look upon!


I saved this weave for last for a reason. This student proved me wrong. After she had woven in her second layer, I thought ‘I don’t think that’s going to work out well for her!’ But look at this. Look. At. This. These aren’t all tone on tone prints that read as solid. But they pull off the gradient somehow and create Dimension with a capital D. I love this so much and am thrilled I got a chance to watch it come together into such a show stopper!

And that’s the end of the line here, folks! I have more pictures from class, but none where you can actually see the weaving! I got a lot of arms in photos, as you can imagine. :D This was a really interesting group of students and I hope I get to teach to garment sewists again soon.

I hope whatever you’re working on, you are finding it fulfilling and meaningful.