Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Braiding Project

The days have been flying by! I'm working hard to get the first batch of copyediting on this new book turned in Monday, on schedule, so there's been precious little time for sewing. And what time I can squeeze in is not what one would call quality time---I'm pretty brain dead. It's a perfect time for some easy, repetitive tasks.

A few weeks ago I started cutting strips from khaki pants for a first attempt at a braided rug. Yes, another rug project. We are in serious need here! 

I will actually be plaiting, not braiding, which means that the worked strips will be very flat and wide. After some trial and error, I decided that using half-inch strips for plaiting would be manageable and look nice, and having each strip contain four layers of fabric would give enough body without being too heavy.

I start with pieces cut 1-7/8 inches wide, with the grain, and as long as possible. I put them through a Clover tapemaker (cutting a point on the end of the strip helps get the fabric into the tapemaker) and follow with the iron as I pull the tapemaker along. With the two raw edges nearly meeting and pressed flat, I fold the strip in half lengthwise and press again, so the raw edges are neatly encased, and the top and bottom surfaces are identical. I then open out the folds and piece lengths of strips together (a bias join, with the seam pressed open) to get a length a bit more than 6 feet. Then, I fold everything back up and sew near the edge. 

I figure I'll need nine individual strips like the one on the right, above, to make a roughly 3-inch-wide plait. Here are the first strips, grouped by color and loosely knotted together, ready to be woven into 4-foot-long plaits! At the bottom of the photo are more strips ready to be folded and stitched.
This little rug project is going to eat up a lot of pants! I get at least five 6-foot-4-inch lengths from one pair. But that means nine pairs of pants will produce five finished 4-foot plaits. That's a rug only 15 inches wide and 4 feet long. Well, I've certainly got lots of these pants, and if I run out, there's always the Dig and Save. 

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