A tale of a project

Are you seeking inspiration for the VIF Winter challenge of re-purposing a textile? Read this story below by Bobbie Williams, weaver and spinner and all-round champion of wool, to see how she took cotton scraps and old clothing and made a new vest to wear!

by Bobbie Williams

Several years ago, the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild hosted a presentation on Acadian weaving, and I learned about catalognes, which were traditional bedcovers woven using repurposed strips of textiles – an early expression of French-Canadian sustainability.  That inspired me to pull out my bins of cotton fabric scraps and old clothing, sort and slice them into strips, and weave my own.  In addition to a multicolour blanket that now covers my bed, I had enough to continue weaving 4 yards of yardage.  I rolled that up and packed it away until I could figure out how to use it.

Which brings us to the present.  I am a member of both the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild and the Vancouver Island Fibreshed.  The former has launched a garment challenge for its members as part of its 90th anniversary, and the latter had a simultaneous challenge of repurposing fabric/clothing.  My handwoven “catalogne” yardage was perfect!

Now, I have basic sewing skills and I was able to locate a pattern that was simple enough to be my first venture into using repurposed cloth.  The catalogne yardage became the outer shell of a vest, and I lined it with a sturdy cotton twill that I found in the bottom of my storage chest.  The binding was a bit of a conundrum – both the handwoven fabric and the twill were too thick.  So, I ventured down to a local fabric store (Gala Fabrics in Victoria) and picked out some clearance batik cotton poplin that would be perfect for cutting bias binding. 

The result is a vest as shown in the photos.  I will submit this for the Guild challenge and for the Fibreshed activity.  It was a learning experience, and there are things that I will change for the next sewing project, but overall I am  pleased.  I have also included a photo of the initial catalogne bedcover I made.  Even fabric scraps have a purpose!