Technique Exploration – Weaving

Loom Introduction

Weaving is an ancient technique that we continue to use today with technological advancements. Many of our textiles are woven on industrial looms allowing for the mass manufacture of cheap clothing. Jacquard looms were also an early development in computer science, allowing for “(t)he ability to store and automatically reproduce complex operations…”. Jacquard Loom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwozgRPLVC8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyhDkd8Iabs

Step-­by-­step ‘how to’

Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

Resources in the GTA and OCAD 

OCAD’s Fibre Studio has a number of hand and floor looms available to students taking certain courses or with permission from the Head Fibre Technician Laurie Wassink; as was my case. Looms can be bought second hand fairly easily on sites like Kijiji but can get quite expensive with one-floor loom going for $750. An expensive investment unless one is planning on many projects. Another option is to join a Textile Co-op, similar to a Maker Space – and enjoy more space and equipment than most could afford on their own. Lastly one can try building their own loom to use.

Examples of this technique in use


While most weaving examples around the internet are for traditional weaving, the site “Get What You Want” demonstrates a few examples of how weaving can be incorporated into electronics

Electrical Examples

http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=5032

http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=4296

http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=6011

http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=5519

http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=6005

Technique in Three Different Ways

Previous to this experiment I had never used a loom to create a project though I had a chance to try using one around ten years ago and I still remember how enjoyable I found it. While I had no experience in using a loom the Fibre Studio faculty and students were kind enough to help me learn the basic skills. However, I did find myself limited by my lack of knowledge which can be remedied in the future with further exploration and study in weaving and other textile construction techniques.

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Setting up the loom

  1. Woven Fibre Optic Filaments

For my first experiment, I wanted to use fiber optic filaments to create my own fabric. Fibre optic fabric that is available for purchase is expensive and comes in very limited sizes so I was curious to see what future potential there was for creating my own. I ordered the filament from Amazon though the limited size and expense means I will look for an alternative supplier in the future. One major factor was that the warp was already set up with a black yarn. To set up the warp with fiber optic filament would require an extensive period of time and a higher skill level. So in this case only the weft was fiber optic filament. As a first experiment I’m satisfied with this technique and will explore it again. Changes will be using thicker filaments, refining the filament sanding process and learning how to set up the warp.

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Loom with fiber optic filament

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Fiber optic filament

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Woven fiber optic filament

2. Conductive Thread Circuit

The second experiment was to try and incorporate a circuit into a textile. I speculated on a future where we can interchange electronics on our wearables due to pre-made circuits on the clothing. This would make wearable technology more accessible for those that cannot sew. There are other ways pre-made circuits could be achieved but I choose to focus on the potential of weaving them in. I used conductive thread and made a bridge switch

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Testing the circuit

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Unfinished threads on back

3. Silicone Wire Circuit

My final experiment was to create another circuit but using silicone wire instead of conductive thread.

Completed Sample

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Parts List

Part Number Part Description Quantity Supplier Cost
N.A. Red Yarn 1 OCAD U Fibre Studio $0.00
N.A. Grey Yarn 1 OCAD U Fibre Studio $0.00
N.A. Cream Yarn 1 OCAD U Fibre Studio $0.00
N.A. Plastruct FOP-10 Fibre Optics .010 1 Amazon $15.43
LILYB-008822 CR2032 Battery Holder 2 Creatron Inc. $2.35 x 2 = $4.70
BATTG-203200 CR2032 Coin Cell Battery 2 Creatron Inc. $1.65 x 2 = $3.30
LILYP – 010811 White LED 2 Creatron Inc. $1.70 x 2 = $3.40
FLORT-000603 Conductive thread – 30ft. 1 Creatron Inc. $4.85
WIRSI-002003 #30 Silicone Wire 1 Creatron Inc. $1.80

Material Exploration: Leather and Imitation Leather

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For my project I wanted to explore using leather and leather-imitation fabrics in sewing projects so I can get some experience working with them and learning different techniques based on the needs of the material.

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I tried brown and blue vinyl (top left and bottom right, respectively), real cattle leather (top middle and bottom left), conductive fabric (top right), and imitation leather (bottom middle)

GLOVE

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My first experiment was to make a “leather” glove that I could wear while using my phone. I drew out a pattern in the dark blue imitation leather (from Fabricland), then cut it out, leaving about a half inch to give some room when I flipped the garment inside out (because I hand-sewed it inverse). Before reversing it though, I sewed in a small patch of conductive fabric that would be pressed to the phone by my finger tip.

The fabric was VERY easy to hand sew – it’s a little stretchy but not so much that it affects the stitch at all. I tried sewing it on a home sewing machine (not industrial) but the stitches ripped through the entire fabric like I was cutting it with scissors. It was suggested that I change the size of my stitches to be longer but then the foot of the machine wouldn’t move over the fabric (kept sticking) so I had to layer tissue paper under the foot on top of the fabric so it could glide. Then, upon removing the tissue paper, the stitches ripped through the entire fabric again.

You can see the awesome stretch in the fabric when I make a fist, and though I wore it a little every day for a week, the only stitches that ripped were along the outer corner of my wrist.

BRACELET

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This experiment was meant to examine making wearable pockets that I could keep things in (like batteries and electronic components) using a weird vinyl fabric that I bought in two colours, and experimenting with different sewing notions.

I bought the fabric from a store on Queen St W (this store had no name; I asked the owner), and the “leather” hook-and-eye thing from Fabricland. I started by making a small rectangle by sewing a small piece of the brown vinyl and a small piece of the blue vinyl together (front-to-front) and flipping it inside out. Then I sewed on each triangular pad from the notions and sized them so it would fit my wrist.

I like this experiment because it turned out clean and simple, and I learned more about hand-sewing techniques with vinyl and I think I’m going to use the pocket technique (without sewing all the way through with the notions, obviously) in one of my future projects

WALLET

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This one is still in progress; I laser-etched this cool square pattern on a piece of real leather (thanks again, Hillary!) when we took our field trip to STEAMLabs a couple weeks ago, and I talked to Lindy in the lab there about how I could turn it into a wallet. I think I’m going to use this leather for the outside of the wallet, and use the brown vinyl for the inside (because the real leather is way too thick to be used for the entire thing)

I used an industrial punch to poke holes in the leather, to practice what I’m going to need to do to sew the wallet together, but the piece was so thick that it took forever to get the remaining fabric out of the hole and it still looks pretty messy. I need to keep experimenting with this one, but hopefully I’ll have it finished for class next week – will update this post when it’s done!

Making Conductive Felt by Hand

Intro…

In this project I wanted to use/experiment with conductive felt but unfortunately it was not easily available, therefore I decided to make my own felted shapes and added conductive thread to make it appropriate for the project.

I experimented with shapes and materials all with the same hand felting technique. Hand felting is a simple technique, which is quite a long process, and repetitive. It consists of using a specialized felting needle that would be used to puncture into the loose felt to make various shapes, sizes and designs.

How Its Made/Process…

I begin the felting process by first retrieving a large sized sponge and set it on a table then place the fabric I want to experiment with on top. Since my pieces are small sized using the sponge was easier to use. I take thin piece of loose felt (since I want an intricate design) and start to form my design on top of my fabric, then I start to repetitively puncture my needle through the felt until its flat and most of the fibres have gone through the fabric to secure your materials and designs in place.

After needle felting in my designs, I place the conductive thread over my designs and using the same felting needle to puncture through the thread to keep it in place.

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Loose felt – merino wool

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Silk felt (inside plastic baggy) with wool yarn

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Cutting organic cotton and hemp fabric – prepare for felting

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Placed on top of felting sponge

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Using my hands to place felt into place (purple felt is also wool) and using the needle felt to puncture it into place. End result of felted in shapes after being punctured.

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Back of fabric after being needle felted into place

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Felted heart designs

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After design is complete, I add conductive thread on top of the felted designs.

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Finished purple hearts.

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Silk/wool blend felt – shaped acutely into a heart on top of a felting sponge

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Continuous process of hand felting with needle – added more silk felt to fill in small space inside the heart shape and make it more thicker. Used fabric scissors to cut off excess felt and make the heart shape more prominent.

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Added conductive thread – felted with needle in a spiral shape for a design aesthetic. Started process of felting a ball.

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Added conductive thread – felted at the bottom and worked my way up.

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Finished felted ball – wrapped conductive thread around – wrapped the pink wool yarn afterwards.


Resources & Different Uses of Felt

OCAD U Fibre Studio Room #201 (equipment can only be used by MAAD students but I think materials can be purchased including felt needles)

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Examples of Canadian designers and their felted products

Left: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/250217773/toronto-maple-leafs-blue-felt-ornament?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=toronto%20felt&ref=sr_gallery_3

Right: https://rimanchik.com/collections/bags/products/felt-no-2-tote?variant=6076087045

It is not 100% guaranteed they hand felted the bags, probably used a different method but it is the same idea but faster process.


Materials

Conductive Thread – Creatron Inc. 647-349-9258

Wool Felt White – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University

Silk Wool & Purple Wool – Romney’s Wool Queen St West Toronto

Felt Needles – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University 416-977-6000 ext.267

Pink Wool Yarn – Romney’s Wool Queen St West Toronto 416-703-0202

Organic Cotton & Hemp – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University

Felt Sponge – Can only be borrowed from Fibre Studio (cannot leave studio space)


Imagined Uses

The handmade shape of hearts give off a childish vibe. I can see the silk-felted heart being used as a nightlight for children and the purple hearts can be used as a mobile above a baby’s crib.