Thursday, 17 January 2008

Finding, and purchasing, good reference books

Sometime ago, I don't recall when, I identified through references and discussions on the internet that I would find a copy of Sharon Alderman & Kathryn Wertenberger's book Handwoven, Tailormade (pub. Interweave Press, 1982, ISBN 0-934025-08-4) interesting and useful.

I learnt to weave because I learnt to spin, and wanted a use for the yarn. Having got that far, I realised that weaving is about producing cloth, but if you don't learn to make up garments (and don't know someone who will do it for you) the product of your weaving gets limited to flat pieces of cloth for things like mats, rugs, towels. I have a good sewing machine, and have made a couple of garments before from my own design & patterns, so I hope to move on to weaving the cloth and then designing and making up garments from my own cloth.

The only publications I know of in print on the subject of making garments from your handwoven cloth are, if you can find them, some of the Handwoven Design Collection booklets and Dorothy K. Burham's "Cut my Cote", pub. Royal Ontario Museum. I have "Cut my Cote" which is a useful small guide to traditional loom-cloth shaped garments (i.e. minimum cutting up of the cloth). I was looking for more information, to help me get from choosing suitable yarns and designs to the finished garment.

I have eventually got myself a copy (today!) of Handwoven, Tailormade though making use of the abebooks "wants" facility. If you search for a particular book and don't find it, you can "create a want". This sits on your abebooks account, and if a book matching the description you have given turns up, then abebooks sends you an e-mail. I requested this book so many months ago that I had quite forgotten until the e-mail came. I rang up the seller, and discovered she was selling a large collection of books amassed by herself (a spinner/sewer) and husband (a weaver). We had a good chat, sorted out payment, and soon the book was with me. I am very pleased with it. It is full of information, much more text than pictures. It explains how to approach every aspect from the design to the weaving to the garment making. It is chatty and friendly in style, so although the text looks dense and dull at a first glance, when you get reading it is superb.

I'd also like to have Betty Beard's Fashions from the Loom, and Anita Mayer's Clothing From Hands that Weave, and the same seller has these, but I have in my mind a clear idea of what I am prepared to pay for the book including the postage cost, and her prices are much too high for me. I could get them cheaper, if I order from sellers in the U.S. But I can wait for these books. I have to bear in mind that there are other books I'm interested in, and I need buy yarn to keep weaving, and I might want more shuttles and possible loom parts this year. I've been buying books faster than I can read them recently, you may have noticed!

So, it's time to create a couple more "wants" at abebooks - you can specify maximum price - and then sit back and wait.

for the UK:
and the US:


Laritza said...

They are all excellent books. I walked the same path you did: spinning-weaving and now hopefully some sewing.

Helen said...

Hi Dorothy I know just what you mean about buying books :) I too have been going quite mad-I always have this absurd idea that if the books are on my shelf somehow the knowledge will migrate from them to me and that by having them I am somehow more knowledgable! It sounds as though you are on the way to be making your own garments though-well done!

Leigh said...

I have Betty Beard's book and it's great because her designs require minimal sewing. I'm so glad you reminded me of that book. I need to do some projects from it.

I think Sharon Alderman has a book out on this subject as well. I seem to remember borrowing it from my land guild's library. Cannot for the life of me recall the name of it however.

Leigh said...

Handwoven, Tailormade by Sharon Alderman. (Couldn't go on to anything else until I thought of it :)

ra said...

Thanks for your comment regarding my blog. It's funny how you lose heart but then when you say so you find out that there are people reading and enjoying it. makes it worthwhile agin.

Kaz said...

Handwoven, Tailormade was one of the first books I purchased when starting to weave and I used to use it alot. Other books you could try are "Make your own Japanese Clothes" by John Marshall and "The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing" by Mary S Parker. Also books by Virginia West. She has lots of clothing patterns. One book is "A Cut Above Couture Clothing for Fibre Artists" but I haven't actually seen that one. Virginia liks to exploit the bias drape of handwovens which is another way of shaping and giving style to a garment away from the flat look.
Thanks for the post.

Willington Weaver said...

Hi Dorothy

I love a blog, too! Even though I've been weaving a very, very long time I never stop learning and a blog is a great way to learn someone elses techniques.

I've not heard of or seen Sharon Aldermans book "Handwoven, Tailormade", I must look out for it. I have 10 yards of handwoven fabric to make up into a suit, but have asked my SIL to make it up for me. I have a very nice Simplicity pattern for her to use.

Keep blogging!

Alison in South Derbyshire

Peg in South Carolina said...

If you know how to sew you don't need those books! For example, if your fabric is well and closely woven, just cut it. It is fabric after all........ If it is not quite closely woven and/or if you are nervous about cutting, you can interface the pieces with fusible interfacing. There is interfacing so light weight you would barely know it was there. And if you want no interfacing and are nervous, cut narrow strips of interfacing and press them onto the seam allowances. With your uncanny ability to solve problems, you should be just fine.

Anonymous said...

I have the book 'clothing from the hands that weave' by anita luvera mayer.
if you like, I can send you the book, and after 1 year, you send it back. in that year you can look if you like it and work with it.

(member of the UKWSDOnline

Dorothy said...


I can't find your e-mail address, so I hope that you may discover this message. Thank you very much for your kind offer to lend me the book by Anita Mayer.

I have thought about this, and am declining your offer because I think the postage cost is too expensive.

best wishes, Dorothy