I have wanted to make myself a Finnish folk costume but with more freedom than what the National Costumes entail. What if I could do what my ancestors did and design my own fabric? It just happens that I know a weaver and the owner of a small weaving mill called Kultavilla. Susanna the weaver was interested in helping my fabric design dream come true! To make it worth her while, I decided to gather a group of people that would be interested in buying this new fabric of ours. I documented this unique project in the video below.
The fabric design
To design the stripey pattern, I used the Kultaraita stripe-generator, which I published earlier this year. It was very interesting to see how the pattern changed when the colours were switched around.
But just making a picture of the fabric wasn’t all that went into the design process – which I quickly learned. I wanted to use the same satin weave that was very common in folk skirts. The warp Susanna had was white organic cotton and that worked just fine. But then I had to choose the weft yarn that worked for my design.
All the options were merino wool but most of the merino wools are too soft for this kind of fabric. Finally, I decided on fine Italian mulesing-free Merino wool that was soft but still had some roughness to it. With the weaving density of some samples Susanna had made, I managed to determine the scale for the stripes.
The finished fabrics
I was so excited to see my fabric being woven with the machine. Altogether, Susanna ended up weaving almost 50 metres of fabric with 10 different colour combinations. Here you can see some of them:
Here is my fabric after I washed it afterwards. The washing shrunk the fabric and made the white warp less noticeable.
The whole process from the idea, the gathering of the group, the design, making all the small decisions, weaving and finally making the skirt took a few months. Susanna was kind enough to give me the fabric for free after all the work I did to make this happen. Still, I found the whole project super interesting!
The fabric made a lovely skirt for me
I made myself a skirt using a combination of modern and traditional methods. I used my serger to finish the edges that do not show. However, I then gathered the top to cartridge pleats by hand and sewed most of the other seams by hand as well. I decided on using the traditional thread loops and tapes -fastening method. I positioned the tapes so that the waistband has some overlap. This gives me some room for adjusting the waist.
I have already worn the skirt a lot and it is warm and very comfy. The fabric doesn’t wrinkle much which is a very nice bonus. To protect the skirt during my everyday chores, I made a small apron that matched the colours of the skirt. The fabric was probably an old curtain that I picked up at the Recycling centre.
Some other news
Besides my stripe-generator, I have also made other web-based applications. One of them, my Pirtanauha-generator, which can be used to design simple Finnish handwoven bands, has got some extra publicity lately. I was contacted by Raili Airikka-Haapaniemi and Tiija Malmi, who were interested in using it to design bands for their book about traditional Finnish headwear and ways traditional crafts could be used in modern settings. Now the book called Päähänpistoja is ready and I got the book just yesterday (I’m sorry that it is only in Finnish!). The book features several bands designed with my app and it was nice to see how this little project of mine has inspired people!
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