When I thought about making a set of napkins for a wedding gift, I remembered a lovely curtain fabric designed by Constance Lalena in the September/October 1985 issue of Handwoven. I wanted to make a variation of this curtain fabric: instead of canvas weave in every square, I would put it in alternating squares, turning a 4-shaft pattern into an 8-shaft one. The canvas weave appears in all of the blended squares, leaving alternating plain weave blue and plain weave white squares.
Finished dimensions: 21″ wide x 20″ long.
Fabric Description: Plain weave with canvas weave spots.
Number of shafts: 8
Other equipment & materials: sewing machine with a zigzag stitch; sewing thread.
Warp and weft yarn:
- 8/2 cotton, 1800 yards of Copenhagen Blue, 1630 yards of Natural White, 160 yards of Baby Blue
- 10/2 perle cotton used double, 320 yards of Quarry
Warp length (for 4 napkins): 4-1/4 yards, which allows for take-up and 36″ loom waste.
Width in reed: 23.5″
Weaving: Weave1-1/2″ hems at both ends of each napkin. It’ll be easier to cut the napkins apart if you weave 2 rows of contrasting yarn between each hem. For example, weave 1-1/2″ to begin the first napkin, 1-1/2″ after the first napkin, then 2 rows of contrasting weft yarn, then began the second napkin with 1-1/2″ of plain weave (total 3″ between napkins).
The weaving did not pack at the same number of ppi as epi: I averaged 17–18 ppi. Therefore, I wove fewer picks of plain weave at the beginning and end of each block, as well as reducing the number of repeats of the canvas weave from 7 repeats in the threading to 5 repeats in the weft. Strive to weave each block as square as possible. Measure the square off tension. Check your beat and the squareness of the block when you first start to weave and adjust your weaving accordingly. Weave 9 blocks following the treadling (weave an equal number of blocks as are threaded).
I used a temple to maintain to prevent excessive draw-in and advanced my warp every 2″.
Finishing: Remove fabric from loom and correct any weaving errors. Pull out the contrasting weft yarn between hems and use a sewing machine to zigzag stitch right along the edge of each napkin. Cut the napkins apart. Machine-wash on regular cycle with cold water. Dry in the dryer until just damp. Steam press and trim off weft ends flush with fabric. Make a double rolled hem so that each hem measures 1/2″. Pin, press, and use a narrow zigzag stitch (you’ll see it less than a straight stitch) as close to the hem edge as possible.