Buying Handwoven Indigo Fabric and Making a Slipcovered Headboard (With DIY Instructions)

Weaving Shop in Zhouzhuang. The spinning wheel is used to spin cotton into the thread used in the weaving.

On my last trip to Zhouzhuang, a small water town a short trip outside of Shanghai, I stumbled upon a weaving shop and immediately fell in love with the indigo dyed striped fabric and the delightful couple who owned the shop. They spoke no English, and my Mandarin is very basic, but as usual, I managed to successfully make a few purchases.

I wish I could have spoken with the couple and learned their story. At the front of the shop is a spinning wheel where a very elderly (and camera shy) lady, who I suspect is one of the owner's mother's, spins the threads. The wife does the weaving and the husband measures and cuts the fabric.

Shopping and making purchases in China can often be something of a chore, and not a terribly pleasant experience.  You end up haggling with a shop owner who is selling something far removed from the people who actually made it.  Not so here. It was so refreshing to see true artisans, living simply and happily, making products on the spot. The cloth they make is beautiful, they take pride in what they make and were joyful that someone was appreciating what they made. The prices were quite reasonable and when I didn't haggle they gave me a discount! My one regret is not buying more.
cutting the fabric - the loom is in the background

Still cutting -better view of the loom.

The three pieces I bought.

Upholstered headboard ready to be slipcovered

My upholstered headboard, while in remarkably good condition after almost 15 years, was looking a bit outdated. The indigo stripes seemed to be the perfect weight to make a slipcover.

The handwoven fabric was only 22 1/2" wide. I cut two pieces 87" (80" for width + 6" for depth + 1" seam allowance) long & pieced them together. (I ran the fabric lengthwise across the headboard so there wouldn't be any vertical seams.)

folded fabric ready to mark for sewing

I mitered the corners to cover the 3" depth. I folded the the top and side edges together and marked a stitching line at the point where it was 3 1/2" (3" for the depth of the headboard + 1/2" seam allowance.) I stitched from the fold up to the 3" mark. I only stitched it up to (but not through) the seam allowance point so that it would be easier to stitch the backing piece on.

mitered corner

Et voila.

I bought a piece of navy blue cotton broadcloth (from the quilting section of my local fabric shop) for the backing and cut it 81" long. I then sewed the two pieces together up one side, over the top and down the other side. Having left the mitered corners unstitched at the seam allowance made this a very easy thing. A quick press and it was ready to go.  Slipped it over the headboard and had the whole thing done in under an hour. Seemed like it was going to be a whole lot more difficult than it actually was.

slipcovered headboard in handwoven indigo stripe fabric

If you don't already have a headboard, and don't want to go to the trouble of building one, here's an easy, reasonably affordable solution:

The EE Headboard is the ideal bedroom furniture solution. This patent-pending modular headboard is easy to carry and easy to change. Each headboard is made of durable, furniture grade materials and includes a custom slipcover for a tailored, upholstered look. With a wide variety of custom slipcovers, you can update your room decor without the need to purchase new furniture. This product is reusable for years to come. 
  • Patent-pending headboard-in-a-box is easy to carry and easy to change
  • Simple, 3-step assembly completes in minutes
  • Made with durable, furniture-grade pine and plywood
  • Includes a custom slipcover with fasteners to provide a tailored, upholstered look
  • Fits any standard metal bed frame

1 comment:

Lima said...

Oh that was an interesting post! I like the photos you took inside the little shop and the fabric is nice too!

-Lima from swap-bot