I love doing custom projects for the holidays. I think it is a great time of year to create something personal for loved ones. But because they are surprises, I can’t hint at what I’m working on until after the wrapping paper and bows have been put away. So, I thought (since I now have the all clear!) that I would share with you the special custom project I did for Beverly.

Beverly and I connected through Beach Bum Jewels in Michigan City about 6 months ago. (A big shout-out to Linda, who I know convinced her this was a good idea! Love you, Linda!) Beverly had a variety of items that used to belong to her Granny and she wasn’t sure what to do with them. In this case, most of it was clothing that she wasn’t going to wear. So, what to do? Well, let’s weave them into fabric!

Granny's clothing for the custom project

Granny’s clothing for the custom project

She and I met to discuss sizes/styles/special requests. She was such an easy client to work with! While we settled on a plan, she revealed what I would be working with. Here was the colorful collection – a purple sleep shirt featuring the Tazmanian Devil and Tweety Bird, a dark red corduroy shirt, a bright red fleece pullover robe, and a white cotton nightgown. She also gave me a peach napkin and few strips of dark purple fabric to utilize.  At this point, I knew it is going to be a bright, vibrant project – I’m suspecting a lot like Granny was!

Sleying the reed

Sleying the reed for Beverly’s project

I opted for a wide variety of colors in the warp (yarns running through the loom) to support all the fabulous colors of Granny’s items. I liked the idea of going with sunset colors – oranges, reds, purples, etc. So, that was the color palette I focused on throughout the project. Beverly threw me for a little loop when she asked about using Granny’s fabric for the lining. Turns out the fabric was green and white. Hmm… not exactly sunset colors. But, it came into play early enough that I was able to sneak in a bit of green into the weft (yarns in the shuttle) so it made sense.

Strips for Beverly's custom fabric

Here is the clothing – post-scissors!

Part of the challenge of working with clothing is that in many cases, the items are a solid color. They don’t have a pattern or mix of colors featured in the shirt/robe/nightgown. So, the finished woven product can look very striped. To help counteract some of that, I had asked Beverly if I could slip in a few neckties to aid in connecting the colors, so they relate better to each other.

Beverly's Custom Handwoven Fabric

Beverly’s custom fabric!

The end result was a cheerful fabric that really took on a life of its own. You hear some writers describe their work by saying, “the characters told me what was going to happen”.  It’s a sense of something else driving the project. Once I started adding strips of Granny’s fleece red robe, it all made sense.

After the fabric had been taken off the loom, I handed it to my trusty seamstress who magically transformed it into adorable handbags and a placemat for Beverly’s family. As an additional bonus, I had some fabric left. Beverly creatively mounted it into shadow boxes for family members who wouldn’t necessarily enjoy a handbag, but would definitely want a memento from Granny’s items. The whole thing came together beautifully!

Beverly's Custom Handwoven Fabric

Beverly’s fabric right after it came off the loom!

This was definitely one of my favorite custom projects! (Keep in mind, I say that about nearly all of them!) Every so often, I am honored with a perfect storm of a great client, fun materials, and a challenging project that just makes me immensely happy! Thank you so much for trusting me with this wonderful experience, Beverly!!

Have you had a sweet, sentimental experience recently? Maybe you received something personalized over the holidays? I would love to hear about it! Happy weaving, everyone!

The ends from the custom bolt of fabric

Such happy fabric!