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Quick and Clean: Lather Up!

Looking for a quick and easy gift to weave? These soap bags and matching washcloths might be just the ticket. Add a bar of designer soap and you've got a sweet personal gift.

Handwoven Editors Dec 6, 2023 - 4 min read

Quick and Clean: Lather Up! Primary Image

Make enough Lather Up! soap bags and washcloths for everyone on your list! Project by Annette Swan Schipf. Photo by Matt Graves

Editor's note: We've all had times when holidays or special occasions were coming our way and we needed some gifts quickly. Of course you could just buy something, but as weavers it's much more personal and fun to give something from our loom. Here is the designer talking about her project. A downloadable pdf for subscribers is below.~ Susan

Notes from designer Annette Swan Schipf

I needed some gifts—fast! As I lay in bed with ideas circling in my head before sleep, I remembered a gift I had received. It was a bar of soap completely enclosed in felted wool. It was lovely when used to lather up in the shower. What if I made a woven version? I could use cotton, linen, and hemp to weave a doubleweave tube to create a soap bag.

However, I felt this gift needed a bit more to it. Why not resley my warp for washcloths to include with the soap bags? Resleying rather than warping from scratch would make the project go faster, and because the warp was short, I wouldn’t have tension problems from resleying.

I did research on hemp, linen, and cotton and discovered that all three are washable, stronger wet than dry, and either hypoallergenic (cotton) or antimicrobial/antibacterial (hemp and linen). In addition, hemp and linen are strong, absorbent, and resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. Although these fabrics were initially stiff right off the loom, an added benefit of using hemp and linen is that they are notable for softening the more they are used. The slight roughness is also great for exfoliating in the shower. Soap bags are also a way to save soap. If you hang them up between uses, the soap doesn’t stay wet and dissolve.

I had fun changing the wefts and treadling for each soap bag and washcloth. Sometimes I used hemp, sometimes cottolin, and, in some cases, I wove color-and-weave patterns. For the drawstrings on the soap bags, I purchased small amounts of colored hemp used for making jewelry to add a bright bit of color.

Project at a Glance & Download


STRUCTURE: Doubleweave and waffle weave with color-and-weave.

EQUIPMENT: 8-shaft loom, 8" weaving width; 12-dent reed; 2 shuttles; 4 bobbins.

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