Handwoven Wiksten Haori

The Wiksten Haori sewing pattern has been on the top of my to-sew list for over a year. I just knew it would be the perfect way to feature a gorgeous handwoven fabric - I just couldn't decide what fabric I wanted to weave. 

Last last year I was warping up some beautiful organic cotton that was completely grown and spun in the USA, and I also happened to get my hands on some color grown cotton. If you haven't heard about color grown cotton yet, its truly a marvel. Cotton didn't always grow true white, its just what we've encouraged with selective farming and breeding over thousands of years. But there are a few heirloom varieties of cotton around that people have been working with to actually grow different colors. One of the most well known among weavers is Fox Fiber - and that's what I used for this project. 

close up of cream and peach fabric on a loom.

I chose a diamond twill draft that I hoped would create a subtle pattern, and after being washed would puff up slightly giving the finished fabric an almost quilted like texture. It's difficult to see in the photo on the loom, but the result was exactly what I hoped for! Next up I raided my commercial fabric stash for the perfect match to add the finishing touches.

Folded fabric stacked with a paper sewing pattern.

The pattern for the Wiksten Haori actually has you line the jacket, but since I really wanted the handwoven fabric to be the star, and I wanted to feel that beautiful cotton texture on my skin I decided not to line the garment. Instead I used the commercial fabric to create bias tape to bind all of the internal seams to protect them, and to line the pockets to prevent snags. I also used the tape to as piping around the neckline and pockets for added interest. 

Close up of inside jacket seams showing bias tape

Bias tape is one of those tricks I always tell people about when sewing with handwoven fabric, especially garments. It takes a little bit of extra time, but if you're using handwoven fabric your goal isn't speed anyways. It protects the fragile seams, and it gives the garment a true heirloom quality feel. 

Image of fabric on a sewing machine, with bias tape pinned in place.  Close up of front seam and pocket showing piping details.

I also made some slight alterations to the pattern in order to accommodate the narrower width of my handwoven fabric. I added a seam down the center of the back jacket I also halved the width of the neck band / collar so that mine doesn't fold over on itself, it lays flat at the front of the body.

I also somehow cut the back pieces as the "short" pattern option instead of the "medium" option and only discovered it when piecing the jacket together, whoops! But I had saved a bit of fabric from when I was first getting the loom tensioned correctly, and was able to use this to create a simple band to make up the difference. I felt really dumb, but in the end I love the added interest it gives to the back of the jacket. 

Photo of the full jacket, from the front hanging on a hanger.

Photo of the jacket from behind, on a hanger.

The final alteration I made to the pattern was to increase the pocket size and change their shape. The original pattern has square patch pockets, but I planned on wearing this jacket around the studio and I wanted enough room to keep a spare shuttle, some bobbins, a pair of snips, maybe a couple of pens, my weaving notebook, measuring tape.... well apparently I wanted bottomless pockets. But anyways, bigger pockets are always better, right? So instead of using the provided pattern pieces, I simply used the front pattern piece as a guide and drew a diagonal line where I wanted the top of the pockets. Then I included the lined pocket pieces in the side seam, front collar band seam, and hemmed them at the bottom with the rest of the jacket. And yes, they nearly can fit everything in that list!

Close up of jacket pocket.

I couldn't be more pleased with how this beautiful house coat has come out. In fact, I basically haven't stopped wearing it since I made it, which is why the photos show it so wrinkly! (Facepalm). I promise I did iron it before taking - some - of these photos. But it is incredibly comfortable, it adds just a bit of warmth for my cold-natured self, but I know the cotton will still be comfortable in spring and fall. The pockets are already full of everything I carry around the studio. And most important of all, I feel special when I'm wearing it, because I know that I made this jacket from spools of yarn and thread. It has a story, and a soul, and THAT is why we buy and make hand made things.

Girl wearing the jacket, sleeves partly rolled up, hands in pockets.

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