Dreaming in colour- handweaving upholstery

Ticking off a major item on the bucket list:  Weave to upholster chairs!
  • Which yarn to use
  • How strong should it be
  • What weave structure?
  • Can it have floats
  • Can there be a ‘give’ in the fabric or should it be stiff
  • How about ‘spill resistance’ after upholstering

If we make a flow chart with all these questions with a choice of answers, the result could be something as un-imaginative as a polyester yarn and a plain weave!! So, the scientific match-making exercise was abandoned. 
The next process was to follow totally the opposite route - gaze at all the yarns, choose what speaks to you and make the chosen one work!  Straight from the heart! You know how to make it work once your heart says yes even if your brain says no! …and also live by your decision 😊
After deliberating for a while, natural dyed cotton 5/2 emerged as a clear choice for this project. With its subtly muted shades, the kind of hues you get in natural shades are truly unbeatable! Earthy, rounded, delicious, whatever you call it, it has a natural charm and always soothing to look at.
The next was to choose the weave structure. Upholstery fabrics generally are tightly woven without much elasticity. The brain started commanding “Thou shalt use plain weave or warp-faced close weave structure”. But then, hadn’t we long decided to follow the heart instead?
What better than Strickler's book of 8 shaft patterns for inspiration? The best thing about the book is all the patterns are in black and white and we can start dreaming in colour! It was decided to go by Stickler weaving pattern #380, a nice plaited twill pattern.


cotton weaving yarn


The warp was set up with natural undyed cotton yarn in count 5/2 on Ashford Jack loom. We started trying out different shades of natural dyed cotton 5/2 in the weft, hoping to choose one or two of them. But the trouble was that whichever shade we tried looked good, making the decision making a bit tough.

More importantly, all the shades played out well together too, even from a completely different spectrum of colours. Now, that is a revelation! You wouldn’t find that happening with the chemically dyed shades but apparently, the natural dye shades kind of work harmoniously together! 
Thus we ended up using 5 shades of naturally dyed yarns.
Then it came to the weaving order of weft colours. Well, questions, questions and more questions. Rather, choices, choices and more choices! We settled on a Fibonacci sequence; can it ever go wrong with aesthetics and harmony?!

The fabric was beautiful out of the loom, but doubts started emerging- this time from the upholster. He had never worked with hand-woven fabric. For him, hand-woven is for stoles and soft stuff, not for the tough, hard-wearing upholstery. It required some convincing on our part to make him use it, but he was all smiles after finishing the job. “Can I get to weave custom-made designs for my furniture in future? My clients would love it”. 
The high you get when you make another person think of taking up weaving is truly immeasurable!

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