Inkle me; so sew me

©2022 Michael Raven

I received my inkle loom this afternoon. Some assembly was required and I have to let the glue dry overnight before I can try it out, but I have to admit that I’m excited about the prospect of adding another fiber art to my experience. I hesitate to refer to it as a skill; I mean, I have yet to actually weave anything on it, how can it be a skill yet? But I am looking forward to having it become a skill.

Ashford inkle loom (photo from vendor webpage, I do not own the copyright)

For anyone who has not come across the word “inkle” before, it is a decorative band or trim. In addition to being fancy trim for clothing, it is used to make decorative belts, straps, leashes, and even shoelaces. Additionally, with pick-up or tablet/card weaving techniques, you can get highly complex, extremely strong, decorative bands. My initial plan is to do some simple design for handles on the canvas bag I’m planning to make to store the loom, followed by some more complex Celtic knot work (eventually) for a guitar strap and/or belt (that would either tie on its own, or with added hardware to make it a more modern belt). I also intend to weave in some runes into a band.

While I probably (very likely) could do something along these lines with my rigid heddle loom, the inkle is a bit more compact for the potential, making it almost portable if I wanted to carry it to occupy myself in the park, or to alleviate the need to socialize at mandatory family holiday gatherings when I finally get introvert burnout.

In addition to this little treasure, I also picked up a Singer sewing machine (scheduled for delivery this weekend) to teach myself that skill as well (see above, mention of a canvas carrying bag). I have several reasons for that decision — the younger of my twins has been after us to learn how to sew since before the pandemic hit. Lessons were out of the question during lockdown, as no one was offering any in-person training. Now that restrictions have been lifted, most places are still teaching sewing remotely, which is not an ideal learning environment for someone under the age of eighteen.

My plan, then, is to teach myself how to sew so I can add some finishing options to my larger weaving and, in doing so I’ll guide her as to how to machine sew.

There are advantages. Not only is sewing a life-skill that can be valuable in this disposable society, but my little one has a thing for wearing skirts. As a practical thing, it has been impossible to find moderate-quality clothes for anyone in the family, and the price of young lady’s skirts has skyrocketed in the past few years (what was once $12-15 is now $20-25, and that is for low-quality goods). For that price, we can make several skirts if we use remnants, or one/two nice ones with off-the bolt fabric. Plus, she’ll learn how to repair her own clothes to make them less disposable.

Additionally, as time goes on, I am less satisfied with the clothing I can find for myself at terrible prices. Not only am I disappointed in the fashions, but everything is overpriced garbage that falls apart within a year of purchase (I think that is the intention). I hate paying upwards of $30 for a cheap-assed shirt that doesn’t even look the way I want it to look. Or, the same for what are basically parchment-thin lounging slacks. Again, for those prices I can make several of either for the cost of one, and make it of better quality.

Plus, I have some ideas about upcycling old clothes (e.g. making a denim jacket out of cast-off jeans, decorative enhancements to old clothes, etc.).

In reality, I’m not only enjoying the crafting elements, but I’m also enjoying the idea of giving disposable consumerism the middle finger. If there is one thing I miss from the 70s and 80s (aside from the music), it is the relatively quality of all merchandise compared to the junk they sell these days with its designed obsolescence. I want to steal some of that back from the clutches of manufacturers who don’t respect my time and money (and not just with clothes, but appliances, furniture, and other goods).

Wish me luck on this adventure. I may need it.

6 thoughts on “Inkle me; so sew me

    1. Weaving is something that enamored me in my early twenties and I finally got around to trying it thirty years later. Now I wish I’d had the opportunity to try it earlier.

      I’ve not had the brainpower to warp my loom these past few days, but I’m hoping to get part two of my current project started tomorrow (warped, if not much weft…) so I can excuse myself to use the inkle loom the next day.


  1. We get most of our clothes thrifted and my daughter is quite genius at turning seemingly outdated “ugly” things into beautiful clothes I actually want to wear. I’m excited to see what you do with these new tools. It seems you are really stepping into your new life and it’s inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We thrift a lot ourselves, but things like young womens skirts don’t seem to survive it to be recycled. Or, we’re slow and need to pick up the pace. My teen years involved too many hours hanging out in a store that charged pennies on the pound for used clothes — you had to dig through mothballed bins without rhyme or reason to find the best treasures. Too bad they wanted to make money and started charging far too much per item.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am surprised by the uptick in “thrift” stores that charge $20 for a used t-shirt. We have a few that have remained more old school and I’m able to still find stuff for $1-$5.

        Skirts are hard to find though, but luckily they aren’t too hard to make. What an exciting project! My favorite part of making my own stuff is I can add pockets!

        Liked by 1 person

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