My projects,  Other crafts,  Weaving

Making an early 19th-century Karelian dress, part 2: Weaving the belt

If you have visited this blog between blog posts you may have noticed the link to a new page with the Pirtanauha-generator. It’s a little javascript app that I coded to design different kinds of backstrap rigid heddle woven belts that go with Finnish folk costumes. My Karelian dress required a belt, so I taught myself this way of weaving to make myself some!

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What is a backstrap rigid heddle?

Nauhapirta ja sukkula.

This heddle in the picture above used to belong to my aunt. She used to weave with it when she was younger but now didn’t need it anymore. It was a complete accident that she wanted to give it away at the same time I was planning my Karelian outfit. Sometimes coincidences just happen! The original shuttle was a bit bendy but luckily I had a more robust one in my storage from the time I taught my daughter to weave with a children’s loom.

When weaving, one end of the loom is fastened to your belt and the other on a fence (like in the picture below), a doorknob or something similar. It helps if the latter end is a bit higher. You’ll create the shed (separate every other warp yarn from each other) by lifting and lowering the heddle.

Weaving pirtanauha

Documenting my learning

Weaving pirtanauha is not very hard and it is surprisingly fast once you learn the basics. I used some online articles (like this in Finnish) and YouTube videos (the links to the videos are down below) to help me get started and soon I was weaving! At first, I didn’t remember that the weft yarn (which is the one on the shuttle) is not supposed to show and I wove too loosely. Then I realised my mistake and the belt started looking like a proper belt. Here is a video documenting my journey in belt weaving:

The first practise belt was not pretty enough for my costume but I then I used my javascript generator to design a green, red and white one that matches the colours of my costume. Later I had a girls’ night at a friend’s place in which some of my friends wanted to see how I wove with my heddle. There, with the help of some red wine, I made another belt in red and white. I don’t think it took more than an hour.

Here are the finished belts:


Useful links

Here are links to the tutorial videos I used to teach myself. The titles are in Finnish but the videos themselves are without sound. Everything is shown very clearly, so you don’t need to know Finnish.

How to measure and cut the warp yarns using chair legs. Note the way the yarn is criss-crossed between the chair legs to keep the strands in order!

How to handle the shuttle and the weft yarn and how to weave.

If you want to try weaving like this, you can buy a heddle from Etsy (here are some good options) or make one yourself. I myself am considering buying one of those double-slot heddles to make weaving more complicated patterns easy.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the video! See you later and subscribe to my YouTube channel and this blog, if you haven’t already done so! Happy sewing (and weaving)!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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