Handwoven Bomber jacket : design musings

When Lyndle left a comment on my recent weaving post asking how long it took, it spurred me into action on planning my bomber jacket. I generally have something on the loom, and I weave whenever I feel like it. Sometimes for half an hour; sometimes for 4 hours. Sometimes each day; sometimes with gaps of weeks. If I was going to be able to wear it during the coming winter, I’d better get my skates ( or shuttles) on. Starting now, I may have the cloth ready by the end of May, followed by a month of procrastinating with the fear of cutting into the fabric to make the jacket.

The design was ‘supposed’ to be a no brainer, taken from a project in The Wheel Magazine. It was a herringbone in a 4-ply wool (black warp and brown weft) and hand-knitted bands. Simples! Only I don’t have any on hand, and I really should use my existing stash. There is some lovely stuff in there. At 4-5 projects a year, it’s in danger of being eating by moths more before I get to it. The other nagging thought was that herringbone was a little ‘ordinary’; I could buy the fabric for a fraction of the cost of the yarn.

I had my heart set on an advancing twill from Anne Dixon’s The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory,using a 16/2 worsted wool. The twill that I liked has repeats of 46, in the warp and weft, so I’d need to be on the ball with my treadling. The yarn is relatively fine yarn so the pattern repeat is small ( around an inch) and doesn’t require a lot of work to pattern-match the fabric later on. I’m also planning to lay the pattern out on the cross-grain to make the pattern matching easier and any variation in beating density should be less obvious.

Yarns: 16/2 worsted wool
Draft: 4-shaft advancing twill

Next came the yarn calculation. Poop! Enough to do the main body, but not the sleeves. Waaaa!

Then I disappeared into the google-search and pinterest rabbit-warren. My attention first went to looking at examples of bomber jackets with plain sleeves. I found some hilarious examples of how to use weaving scraps from some of the major fashion houses and a couple of biker jackets that had promise. I’ve decided to park this design and until the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show to see if I can pick up another yarn to work in with the design.

Short of fabric?
Top Left : Balmain
Top Right: Oscar de la Renta
Bottom Right: Unknown via Pinterest
Bottom Row:

I stumbled across this video on how the Chanel tweeds are designed. It’s very staged but oh so inspiring. Makes be start thinking out of the box. (The child in me) Novelty yarns, YES!!!! Be bold, make the fabric something unique!

Chanel swimsuit / Bridal Outfit ( source vogue)

Ok, maybe not THAT unique.

My first group of yarns are a mixture of textures and sizes in a coral/white/sage palette. Some inspiration photos below. I did a small sample using a tapestry loom to get an idea of how they would work together. It has promise, but I’m a long way from the creativity of Lesage or Linton Tweeds. Potential scarf in the making though, especially with the eyelash yarn.

Coral/White/Sage Yarn Inspiration
Top Left: Linton Tweed sample;
Bottom Row – St John, Milly, Channel

Another train of thought is based on a navy wool to which I could add some colour pop but still keep the jacket casual. The fancy yarn has slubs and mohair boucle in reds to purple to indigo on a black yarn, with gold flecks and nubs. The weave samples are from Linton Tweeds. The weaves are a little easier to recreate and use only one or two fancy yarns. I love the sample on the top right ( possibly overshot) and the next one below it ( supplementary warp and weft?).

Fancy slub yarn inspiration: White jacket with fabric close up (Chanel), multicoloured top (Chanel); other fabric samples (Linton Tweeds)

I have a huge cone of 1/11 navy wool that I thought I’d use to make a scarf. It would give me that chance to see if it would work as a warp yarn and give me the chance to do some sampling with the novelty yarn. And it was quite a learning experience. As I suspected, the yarn wasn’t suited to being in the warp. The warp chain corkscrewed as I was trying to put it onto the loom. The first 50 cm of the warp taking almost an hour to wind on due to the yarn twisting and binding to its neighbour. But after that, it went OK. It did start to fray by the end of the scarf, but I was also working on the section that had played up during the warping.

I also made a ‘technical error’ in working out the threading, which meant that the weave I had in mind, wasn’t able to be done with the way I’d set the loom up. But I did my sampling with the fluffy yarn and then did the scarf in plain weave.

Grid Scarf

So now, I’ve got a warp chain ready for the bomber jacket. I’ve switched to a 20/2 wool instead of the singles yarn. You can see the sample in the photo below. The fancy yarn is woven at three different densities to see which would be best. The fancy yarn has a gold thread running though it which looks awesome in real life, but doesn’t get picked up by the photo.

Plans for the bomber jacket

  1. What an interesting journey! This will make a fabulous jacket, and it will original and all yours. What a fascinating project, but then you often come up with very original creations. I eagerly await your jacket.

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    1. Thank-you. I do hope it works out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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  2. Fascinating! I do like your sample. Which density are you going with?
    I love the brown/black combo too. That example jacket with the “hey, I skipped a bit” middle is hilarious, maybe it works in Paris or Milan.

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    1. Thanks Lyndle. I’m going with the in-between density ( 1 fancy yarn for every 3 plain). Love the brown/black combo too, but sadly the fancy yarn is too fat to fit though the reed without shredding 😦

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