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Loom-Shaped Clothing

by Gloria Vaughn Hann

Loom-shaped clothing is apparel made from separate pieces which are shaped as they are woven. Most often these pieces are rectangles or squares. There is no cutting involved, except to separate the pieces after they have been removed from the loom and processed. It is the manner in which the pieces are folded and assembled which forms them into a comfortable garment.

Sample Layout

All pieces of the garment are shaped as they are woven.

Needless to say, a loom-shaped garment will not be comfortable if it is not the correct size. We mature into different proportions and shapes. Before dressing the loom, it is important to know the finished measurements of the assembled garment. These measurements may be taken from an existing blouse or jacket which fits the weaver's prospective wearer. These are the measurements you need when figuring shrinkage percentages for your warp and weft fibers plus a general seam allowance of ¼" (.64cm). True measurements can only be known through sampling.

Denim is Forever

If the knowledge is already at hand for the weaver, that is to say the warp-wise and weft-wise shrinkage percentages obtained in that particular weaver's washer and dryer, using the same fiber or fibers, obviously a sample need not be made. However, anytime a new fiber is to be woven, a sample should be made and processed to determine both width and length shrinkage percentages. When processing the sample, records should be made as to wash and rinse water temperatures, soak time, and drying treatment. Heavy 3-hole paper is good for making sample notes, with the dried sample fastened to the sheet and kept in a loose leaf binder. The garment web must be processed not only the same amount of time as the sample, but with the same laundry equipment, since hot water and dryer temperatures may vary from household to household.

The happy side to sampling is keeping records which can be referred to for future projects. For example, if previously you dressed 2/8 shetland at 12 ends per inch, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, agitated for 6 minutes, rinsed cold, dried 5 minutes on perma-press, resulting in 30% weft shrinkage and 12% warp shrinkage, you wouldn't have to make another sample to attain a like fabric unless you changed laundry equipment or purchased a new hot water heater. The sample should be attached to the record sheet.

Key points to consider for comfort are (1) generally a woven (at loom measurement) neck depth of 3" (7.62cm) is sufficient. Gussets woven on the same warp make an attractive neckline. Generally a gusset with finished measurements of 5½" x 5" (14cm x 12.7cm) is sufficient and is pinned in place and adjusted while wearing the garment. (2) If feasible for a particular loom-shaped pattern, the back armhole opening should be about 2" (5.08cm) longer than the front armhole opening. This can alleviate that distressing, disappointing event of having a jacket or blouse hike up in back. For a successful blue print to make a fashionable garment, some goals to work toward are...(1) Keep it Simple, (2) Contrast, (3) Dominance and (4) Embellishment.

Simplicity: Good design is simple design, brought about using the elements of hue, value, shape, line and texture. While that sounds like a lot of elements, when they are choreographed into a single effort one cannot help but have a smashing garment.


Contrast is needed to relieve monotony and is the spark which holds the style together. Contrast can be achieved within the web and with embellishments as a final application.

Dominance, or Repetition: Obtained in several ways, such as repeating identical or closely similar colors with different textures. Dominance is most easily recognized in any art form with the repetition of any texture, hue, value (degree of lightness or darkness), line or shape. Generally, lighter tones are perceived as less formal and darker tones appear more elegant, conservative and formal. The addition of iridescent fibers to lighter or darker colors appear to make them appear more formal.

Last, but by no means least, stylish loom-shaped clothing is assured when one takes the extra time to add that "finishing touch that means so much" in assembling and embellishing; these are tasks done at leisure in the evening when dishes are done and it is time to kick back.


Gloria lives in Twin Falls, Idaho and has numerous college art credits with an emphasis on design, painting and creative writing. Her introduction to fiber arts began at age 10, when her scout troop was taught to knit. Gloria says "During the past 57 years my fingers have had a close association with natural fibers, with the last three decades devoted to weaving and loom shaped clothing."

This work has resulted in a book entitled "A Weaver's Pattern Book of Loom Shaped Clothing" with patterns and instructions for 14 garments, plus many extra tips on general design and finishing principles.

Copyright © 2000 by Gloria Vaughn Hann. Please contact the author for permission to use any part of this article.

Gloria Vaughn Hann    This extra step helps prevents spam   webpage
P.O. Box 5304
Twin Falls ID 83303-5304