Posted by: lavernewaddington | May 20, 2022

Backstrap Weaving – Making it Work

The bag is done! Phew, I made it work. Actually, I lie…it isn’t quite done. I still have to apply the magnet snaps…one to close the mouth of the bag and one to pin down the flap. I put the word out that I was looking for the kind of round magnet snaps that you see here and, like magic, a friend who happened to be out and about this morning found them. While I do enjoy an excuse to poke around the street markets, it is also nice to have the goods just handed to you like this…almost like shopping online! I am so grateful. The street market that is three blocks from my place has one whole section dedicated to fabric. That’s where I eventually found the fusible interfacing. Just beyond the market is a street of leather and faux leather supply stores. In amongst them is a fabulous store called “Hebillandia” which would translate to Buckleland. That area would have been my first stop on the search for the magnets.

Looking back through my photos and notes, I see that this bag project sort of got started way back in January with this….

3-color reversible pebble weave in 8/2 tencel.

This was an exercise in getting my head back into three-color reversible pebble weave after a break of a few years. I guess I will always associate this particular band with Covid as it was during this project that I got infected. I had to put it on hold until the brain fog had cleared.

But going even further back, you could say that it started with this….

Yarn that I started spinning and plying while enjoying covid Zoom gatherings in 2020 and 2021.

The idea was to weave an item with my hand-spun wool using the 3-color pebble structure that would allow both faces to be seen. I decided to weave a strap. The bag idea grew from there.

Lining cloth in doubled 20/2 cotton.

I’ll say it again…I don’t need a bag. I just like to weave and this project has kept me weaving and out of trouble for some time. I also knew that it would teach me a lot. For example, I learned about fusible interfacing: what it’s called in Spanish, the difference between woven and unwoven, the various weights, how to apply it…most importantly, where exactly I can get it in the street market (although I think that I have bought a lifetime’s worth in three different weights!) Things can just inexplicably disappear from the stores here, like the alum that I had suddenly found so hard to find. I figured I should stock up on interfacing! I learned what makes a good DIY reed-threading hook and about doubling threads in dents. People do think that I am quite mad for weaving the lining fabric for the bag but I did learn a lot from that experience, used up some stash for which I had no other use, and I really like knowing that I wove absolutely every part of the bag (except for the interfacing).

I learned that with determination, or some might say stubbornness, I could make some things work. I might just happen to stumble upon the right way to do things. If not, I learn what not to do for next time. I did try to cut down on the “fails” and “do-overs” by asking for advice in online groups.

Some of the pieces coming together.

I had read about procedures for adding lining. One way is to sew it to the outer fabric before sewing the body of the bag together. Another way is to sew it on its own and then “drop” it in later. It seemed to me at first that the former would be easier and so I am glad that I asked in the Many Shuttles Handwoven Bags Group that Kathrin Weber started on Facebook as the majority of responders seemed to favor a dropped-in lining. I got the tips I needed. It would never have otherwise occurred to me that the lining should be sewn in exactly the same size as the outer fabric. I chose to ignore one tip that I had been generously given and regretted it. Hence the lining had to be dropped in twice. I learned that my “make-it-work” hand-stitching is hard to rip out!

Here is the flap fabric that I showed you last week and some of the other pieces…

Lining fabric, intermesh sides and base, strap and warp-faced plain weave body fabric.

I had so much fun weaving the flap fabric. I think that much of that came from the sheer relief that it was going to work. I had had some serious doubts about the 20/2 wool being able to stand up to this three-color structure. I only broke one thread. Strangely, I broke two when weaving the much simpler intermesh band that encircled the mouth of the bag. I needed that band to cover the top of the pleats that I had placed in the body of the bag. The pleats are supposed to make the whole thing slightly less box-like.

One of the scariest, and subsequently most fun, parts was finishing the flap. I had planned it to be twelve inches wide and that’s precisely what it ended up being. However, when I placed it on the bag with its strap sewn in place, it turned out to be too wide. I had to cut off the natural selvedges which, along with the curve that I wanted to cut into it, gave me way more raw edge with which to deal than I had anticipated.

I applied interfacing to the flap fabric and a hand-woven backing fabric. I sewed a line of stitches just to the inside of the proposed cutting line. Then I cut and applied the tubular band.

I love using woven tubular edgings! The raw edge is entirely enclosed within the tube and well protected. It goes on like magic! I hope that you can make it out on the curved part of the flap in the lower right image. It’s such a neat finish which also serves to strengthen the edge. The very top pattern on the flap fabric is the part that sits on the back of the bag. I have a tutorial on cutting a curved flap and applying tubular bands here.

So, after all this explanation, here is the finished bag. The first shot is the only one that shows that there was an attempt made to shape the bag with pleats. My pleats were probably too small. I’ll show the bag with open flap once I have the magnets in place. Lets see if I can make that work without having to gouge holes in the fabric.

All notes were recorded in my Weaver’s Journal, of course! I used my drop-spindle-spun yarn for the strap and the tubular band. The lining was in 20/2 cotton and a balanced plain weave. Everything else is in the 20/2 worsted-spun wool (that you can see in the skein) in tight warp-faced structures.

What’s next? I think that a couple of days of cotton-spinning on my takli are needed to clear my head. I am thinking about using it in a balanced plain weave (not yet in the open sheer cloth that I have mentioned here before) with some tiny bits of inlay in natural green and brown cotton. I might weave a fairly short piece to use as something very light that sits around the neck. I have decided that I am done with scarves…all that length and those ends flapping around to deal with…they annoy me! Maybe you have to have been raised wearing scarves to have learned to deal with that. In all the years that I lived in ski resorts and Patagonia, I never once wore a scarf. Nevertheless, I won’t be cutting down the ones that I have already woven. Tour de Fleece spinning teams are starting to form on Ravelry. I won’t join a team but I will follow along with my cotton spinning.

My slow-growing takli-spun cotton stash.

I would also like to use some of my hand-spun wool to weave a three-color camera strap. And then there’s a wool Finnweave project calling to me for which I am gathering ideas and a silk ikat with thread that I dye with cochineal…. and maybe a hand-spun cotton ikat?? if I can find cotton dye. That’s plenty to keep me out of trouble!

I will tell you which of these has won top position next time.


  1. Your bag is beautiful! I greatly admire your work and enjoy reading these blog posts!!

  2. Hi Laverne – great result. If you attach those magnets to a piece of sturdy fabric or supple leather first, you can then invisibly stitch them to your bag. Enjoy using it.

    • Thank you, Karen. We are on the same page. I have saved all the fabric off-cuts from this project with this idea in mind but wasn’t sure if it would work or if it was a good idea. Thank you for letting me know that this is something doable.

  3. Laverne, your bag is stunningly beautiful and you are so talented. I have read your posts for years and you continue to inspire me to aim high in the execution and finishing of my own weaving. Thank you.

  4. Absolutely stunning ! I love that you even wove the lining fabric. You are an inspiration.

  5. Laverne, your bag is just wonderful. By the way, there is no such thing as “need” when it comes to bags, they just are! LOL I too love to make bags only I have not gone as far as weaving the lining fabric. Use this one with pride!

    • Thank you, Theresa. It’s a terrible thing….I already have another one in mind!

  6. I love the bag and the cute hummingbirds. Such beautiful work you do. And I agree about scarves. Can’t stand wearing them but for winter here, I do love a soft knitted cowl of quviut. So yummy. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Judy. Oh goodness, quviut, that must be lovely. A friend who had been to the artic brought back clumps of it for me that the animals had shed by rubbing up against shrubs. It was just enough to knit into a tiny pouch. So gorgeous! I imagine a whole scarf wrapped several times around the neck would be almost too warm. A cowel sounds just right. Thanks for your comments about my bag.

  7. Hi Laverne

    I love your bag and look forward to seeing it in the next Braids and Banter session.

    Have you thought of a möbius scarf for your fine cotton weaving? As the two end selvedges are joined, with a twist in the fabric between them, it eliminates the flapping ends of a ‘normal’ scarf but fits snuggly round the back of the neck with a fold at the front.

    Best wishes



    • Hi Bridget. Thanks for that suggestion. I hadn’t thought of that at all and shall look into it. I would be nice to have the chance to also learn about this while learning how my cotton behaves.

  8. What a beautiful fabric & bag!

  9. Your bag is exquisite!!!!

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