Weaving a flax belt

30 July 2007

greenstone-bangle beltWeaving a flax belt is reasonably straightforward — a first-time weaver completed a belt on the second day of a workshop I tutored last weekend. Using the same basic pattern, it would be easy enough to add your own modifications and create a unique item.

The belt made in the workshop was one of my designs that used a greenstone bangle for the buckle. The bangle is woven into the weaving at one end and at the other end a folded-over strip with a buttonhole included in the weaving hooks around the bangle and buttons up inside.

weaving the greenstone-bangle beltTo make the belt, use flax strips about .8 cm wide. Prepare twenty strips (ten more if the flax you are using is short in length) as extra strips will be added in when the ends of the original strips are nearly reached. Start by twining ten strips together in a row and then weaving up. Fold the strips over at the end of the rows instead of twisting them. This makes a neat edge although both sides of the flax will show in stages along the belt’s length. Add a new strip when there is about 10cm left of the old one. Weave the new strip along with the old one and then continue to weave with the new one as the old one runs out. Weave the length you want for your belt taking into account the space that the bangle will take up.

weaving the greenstone-bangle beltTo include the bangle at the end, narrow the weaving by folding two strips each side back into the previous weaving and continue weaving the narrower strip for about three rows. Put the bangle over this and fold the narrow woven piece back along the inside of the belt, threading all the ends for about 5-8cm into the weaving on the inside of the belt — long enough to hold the bangle securely when the belt’s worn. The other end is narrowed in the same way as this end and a buttonhole included after about two rows of weaving. Weave two more rows then fold and thread all the strips back into the narrow strip of weaving to secure the ends. Sew a button onto the inside of the belt.

Any sort of bangle or buckle without the centre pin could be used for this design instead of the relatively expensive greenstone bangle.

71 Responses to “Weaving a flax belt”

  1. Ana Says:

    Tena Koe Ali….
    I am fascinated by your awesome talent. I have yet to master making this belt and it will be an awesome project this weekend however I am looking for some instructions. I recently saw a wired koru sculpture that had a harakeke weaved piping around the wire. I was wondering it you would know how to do such a weave and if you could send me some instrucitons. I am going to have a tutu this weekend but I thought I would ask on this blog to see if you could help out.
    Kia Ora
    Naku noa,
    Ana (Tamaki Makaurau)

  2. Ali Says:

    photo of a four-plait necklaceKia ora Ana, Thanks for your query and kind comments.

    Good luck with weaving the belt. I think the woven piping you describe will be the four-plait woven in the round — the same as the plait in this photo. If it is, then you’ll find instructions on page 70 of Fun with Flax. This book is often available in bookshops or will be in your local library. One tip I’d give when making this plait is to knot the start of the plait around a chair leg or something similar so that you can pull and tension the weaving as you plait.

  3. scarlett Says:

    Hi there im looking for instructions on making the flax roses the ones that look like roses, as i would like to make mine for my wedding, i have seen them for sale but im not well off so im making everything thank you
    scarlett

  4. Ali Says:

    photo of a red flax English roseHi Scarlett
    How much time do you have before your wedding as the flower booklet will be available soon. The style of flower in the photo here is the one I call a rose but I’m aware that other styles can be called a rose. Is this the one you mean? If it isn’t, there are 12 styles of flower in the booklet so I’m sure you’ll find the one you want.

  5. Waina Brown Says:

    Please let me know when the booklet is available. I would also like to be added to your database thank you.

  6. Marley Says:

    I would be interested in this ‘booklet’ too…when is it available? Where from? And, how much please?

  7. Cindy Barth Says:

    Please add me to your database.

    Cindy Barth
    St. Albans
    Christchurch

    shekinah.stamper@gmail.com

  8. Ali Says:

    Hi Waina, Marley and Cindy
    Thanks for your interest in the Flower booklet - I’ve added your names to my database. You’ll be able to purchase the booklet directly from me when I have completed it but I’m not sure about the price yet. I’ve had some delays with the booklet but am now back working on it. Check out my latest blog post, The wax on flax, for more information on the booklet’s progress.

  9. Lynn Hayes Says:

    Hi, your website is so helpful. Can You please add me to your database. I want to weave a mate is it the same way I would weave a belt or a kete. Sorry I dont know the name of the process for that type of kete. lookforward to your reply. Lynn

  10. Debbie Storey Says:

    Your website is so useful, you should be very proud of your achievements!
    Please could you inform me when your flower booklet is ready?
    Thank you.

  11. Ali Says:

    Hi Lynn & Debbie
    I’ve added your names to the database.
    Lynn - You can make a mat by weaving a woven square and then folding the ends back on themselves and threading them back into the weaving. Instructions for a mat are in the book “Weaving - The Arts of the Maori” and also Cath Brown’s video that I’ve reviewed on my Reviews page.

  12. lesa Says:

    hi Ali I would like to go on your database,and would to know when your book comes out. Amazing what you can do with flax. Your instructions are as clear and simple to follow and Im looking forward to your book

  13. Ali Says:

    Hi Lesa
    Yes I’ll add your name to the database. Thanks for your comments about the instructions. It’s always good to get feedback.

    I’ve recently redone the instructions for the flower on the Weaving a flax flower page and I’d be interested in your thoughts on those instructions too if you’ve used them.

  14. Emma Hawkins Says:

    Kia Ora Ali,
    Can u please add me to your database. I have just started weaving and enjoying it so much. Not very good with following instruction but from all the comments I have read you have simple and easy to read instructions. Keep it simple thats what I
    like. Looking forward to your book.
    Naku noa,
    Emma.

  15. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Emma

    I hope you’ve had a chance to weave something from the website and found the instructions easy to follow. Let me know if you find anything that’s not so easy to follow.

    I do try and keep the instructions as clear and easy to follow as possible with the combination of written instructions and step-by-step photos but it’s always good to get feedback if something is not quite clear.

    I’ve added your name to the database.

    Good luck with your weaving.

  16. Tina DY Says:

    Ki Ora Ali,

    Thankyou for Awesome website, I too have a “desire & passion” to learn Harakeke.

    I am very sad to say in my region, there are no classes available at this stage, or talented hands to show or pass on knowlegde. **Please could you add me to your database** I am looking forward for your book to be published along with so many other passionate people :)
    many thanks
    tina

  17. Miss Bennetts Says:

    Hi I’m also making my own flowers out of flax for my wedding in February, am I able to please get the instructions for that rose one you have pictured (feb 12 08 comment) above?

  18. Ali Says:

    Hi Tina and Miss Bennetts

    I’ll add your names to the book database and, yes, the instructions for making the rose are in the booklet so you’ll be able to make them in time for your wedding in February.

  19. Miss Bennetts Says:

    Thanks Ali x

  20. Gayle Barker Says:

    Hi Ali

    I would like to be added to your database. I would be interested in the booklet as I have recently joined a night class and have become very interested in harakeke weaving.

    thanks

  21. Steffi Moir Says:

    Very good but why dont you put in step by step instrutions on flax weaving

  22. Ali Says:

    Hi Steffi
    I’ve included more detailed instructions on the weaving projects found on my Instructions page and in my more recent blog posts, but it would have taken rather a lot of photos and instructions to fully cover weaving the belt and finishing it off, so for this post I included only enough instructions for a reasonably experienced weaver. Probably I should have mentioned this in post itself.

  23. Minnie Says:

    Please let me know when your booklet is available to buy, thank you.

  24. Rachael Says:

    Hey Ali,

    Great stuff alright. Could you please add me to your database to purchase your flower booklet - am looking forward to it!

  25. Fiona Says:

    Hi Ali, like everyone else, I am grateful for your advice on this website. I started with your flax flower which got me hooked, have had a few lessons and made a few kete and now have bought a greenstone bangle to make the belt you featured, I am very interested in your booklet and would love to know when it is available for sale. Please add me to your database too. thanks again for the great advice!!!

  26. Ali Says:

    I’m glad you’ve found the site inspiring, Fiona. I’m hesitant to predict a date for the booklet because I’ve been wrong in my predictions before. However, I am on the endy bits, though life — and inspiration — tends to interfere with progress toward completion. For one thing, I start a brand new day job in a couple of weeks, and for another, one of the flower designs — that I thought was finished — has just blossomed into a whole new variation that I can’t resist playing around with and including!

  27. loulou Says:

    do you have insructions for weaving sea animals(fish etc.)????????????????
    Loulou

  28. Ali Says:

    Hi Loulou

    The book “Fun with Flax” by Mick Pendergrast that I mention on the Reviews page of this web site has instructions for weaving two types of fish in it. The book is readily available in bookshops or from your local library. Have fun!

  29. tina Says:

    Kia Ora Ali, thanks for reply dated 1st July:) Could you please tell me roughly “How many different flax flower designs there are listed in your Booklet?~ Can`t wait!:) Many thanks tinaDY

  30. Ali Says:

    Hi Tina

    There are twelve flower designs, some with variations, plus there are some ideas for foliage. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too much longer for the booklet!

  31. Jewell Edwards Says:

    Hi Ali

    I think your work looks beautiful. I have come across your website because I have been trying to find somewhere to learn how to make these large laundry size baskets made from the whole flax leaf and can’t find anything anywhere. I would be so happy to pay you for any instructions you may have as I would really like to make these for my Christmas presents this year. I am a beginner weaver but have seen these types of baskets at a market and the weaver said they were relatively easy. Also can I please be added to your data book to purchase your flower book - they look really lovely.

    Thankyou, Jewell

  32. Ali Says:

    Hi Jewell

    Thanks for your comments about the web site. Sorry but I don’t currently have any written instructions for the large basket, or waikawa, that you mention although I do teach how to make these in my workshops. I’ve added your name to the Flower Booklet database.

  33. Carolyn Says:

    Kia ora Ali,

    Can you please add me to your database for when your book is ready, I too am wanting to weave putiputi for my wedding in April 09 and am keen to try out your English Rose. Also, I am wondering if you have any instructions on weaving a band to put around a wedding cake and candles - I’m guessing something similar to your belt but not as wide??

    Thanks
    Carolyn

  34. Ali Says:

    Hi Carolyn

    Weaving a band to put around the cake and candles is similar to the belt. Also the instructions I have in the Flower Booklet, (which will be published soon), for a Hyacinth show how to make a band of weaving. If you want to make a band with a zig-zag edge, then the book “Fun with Flax” has instructions for headbands with this sort of edge that you could use for the cake band.

    I’ve added your name to the database.

  35. Leah Rix Says:

    Hi Ali,

    Can you please add me to your list. I would really like the flower book when it is ready.

  36. Mei Says:

    Kia ora. Thanks for everything. Your mahi is so inspiring. Could you include me on your data base for the putiputi book. Kia ora

  37. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Leah and Mei

    I’ve added your names to the database for the Book.

  38. Kara Says:

    Hi can you please add me to your database for your book. Thanks heaps, I look forward to it.

  39. Dianne McCallum Says:

    Hi Ali,
    I have been looking for putiputi during a recent trip around the North Island without much luck, however a very kind florist in the Thames Mall started me off and supplied me with your website. I would like to be added to your data base for your upcoming book please.
    Kia Ora,
    Dainne

  40. Ali Says:

    Hi Dianne
    I’ve added your name to the database. The book will be available shortly.

  41. Susan Says:

    Kia ora Ali
    Can you add me to your database for your pukapuka putiputi?
    Ngā mihi
    Susan

  42. rose kenny Says:

    Hi Ali I am enjoying your web site, just a new learner, and i would be interested in your new flower book.
    thank you Rose

  43. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Susan and Rose
    I’ve added your names to the book database.

  44. Gypsy Roberts Says:

    Kia Ora Ali
    i love your website - i am a new learner as well and how do we get on to your databse?? i would love to be on there please!
    Nga mihi nui Gypsy

  45. Lovey Marshall Says:

    Hi Ali I am looking forward to receiving your book. I enjoy looking at your mahi every day. Keep up the beautiful work.

  46. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Gypsy
    I’ve added your name to the database. Check out the last paragraph on my latest blog post for an update on my book, Weaving flowers from New Zealand flax.

  47. Jan TeWao Says:

    Thankyou Ali for your easy instructions on the flower belt stars and the ending of a kete. I am just learning to do harakeke the last item I made was when I was 9. It had to be refreshed at the age of 47 I am still learning and would like to know if you are putting other creations on for people to learn. Be happy to hear from you.

    Once again thankyou very much
    Jan TeWao

  48. Ali Says:

    Hi Jan

    It’s good to hear that you found the instructions easy to follow. Thanks for letting me know.

    I usually post a blog every month or so and the post often features a weaving technique so it’s best just to check the blog every now and then.

    As you may have seen from the other posts, I am currently printing my book Weaving flowers from New Zealand flax which has fifteen different flower and foliage designs plus different variations of several of the designs which may be of interest to you. It will be available soon and I’ll be putting up a blog post when it is.

  49. nina Says:

    wow! This is the best site i have ever seen so far. I was blown away by the information you have given. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Please add me to your data base. I would like to purchase a pukapuka putiputi please. Cannot wait to get one.

    Kei runga noa atu koe!
    Cheers!

  50. Ali Says:

    Hi Nina
    Thanks for your comments about the web site. I’ve added your name to the book database and will let you know when it arrives.

  51. Kim Says:

    Kia Ora Ali

    I normally make my putiputi (rose buds) then dye with rit liquid dye and dry in the sun. However, my poor puti puti are still going mouldy at times. Why is this??

  52. Ali Says:

    Hi Kim

    As mould needs damp conditions to grow, then the roses must be getting damp somehow, or not drying completely. Maybe the atmosphere is quite humid where you live so they don’t get a chance to dry out completely. It may be worth dyeing the flax first and leaving it to dry a little before you make the roses, so that the parts not completely exposed to the air get a chance to dry out a bit. Other than that, do make sure they are dried completely before you store them and store them in a dry place.

  53. Pat Says:

    Hi! Ali, I have been involved with harakeke for a few years now, but arthritis has stopped me doing one of my favourite hobbies.I love reading all the blogs Can you please add me to your site.Thanks alot.

  54. Lisa Says:

    Please I’d like to learn how to make the flax roses. Thanks.

  55. Ali Says:

    Hi Lisa

    Instructions on how to weave two different types of roses are in my book Weaving Flowers from New Zealand flax which you can purchase directly from me. All the information on how to do this is on the Book page of this web site.

  56. Lene Says:

    hi Ali

    im so inspired by your passion for weaving ild like to purchase your book

  57. christine akurangi Says:

    Kia ora Ali,
    I have enjoyed your site immensely, your instructions are easy to follow and the pics are an excellent visual guide, thankyou for sharing your knowledge.

  58. Gayle Says:

    Hi Ali
    Just came across your site - most informative. I am inundated with cabbage tree leaves and want to find a use for them. I’ve thought of weaving them into mats that I can then join together to make a big roof cover for a pergola we have out the back. Do you know if this is possible with these leaves? And would you have any instructions that you could help with. I am assuming these leaves would be similar to work with to flax, although I am led to believe that they don’t shrink so don’t need as much preparation?

  59. Ali Says:

    Hi Gayle

    The only experience I have had with cabbage tree, or tī kōuka, leaves is by shredding them and then twining them to make a container. However I understand that they can be woven in the same way as flax. The book The Art of Māori Weaving by Miriama Evans and Ranui Ngarimu, pictures a kete by Nora Pikia, which is made with cabbage tree leaves that have been woven in the same way as flax would be woven. You could make a series of mats, as you suggest, or you could use the same technique that is used to make a basic cloak with flax tags. This is a similar technique to making thatch, where rows of tags are layered one on top of the other. Mick Pendergrast’s book Māori fibre techniques has good illustrations of this method. I’d be interested to hear how you get on with this interesting project, so do keep in touch with your progress.

  60. Sadie Says:

    Could you let me purchase a copy of your book also do you know how to do zigzag type stalks for flower buttonholes or brooches???

  61. Ali Says:

    Hi Sadie
    Yes the book is still for sale.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the zigzag stalks. Do you have a link you could send me that shows a photo of the stalk?

  62. nikki Says:

    hi how do you weave and make a plain flax belt for kids to hold to pois

  63. Ali Says:

    Hi Nikki

    I suggest you just make a three or four plait with shredded flax and use this as a belt. You can tie the belt in the front or at the side of the body with a reef knot to make sure it’s secure enough for the poi.

  64. Misty Says:

    Hi there Ali, thank you so much for displaying the instructions on how to do the four plait and flower making. I’ve just attempted to make the flower although not as good as yours on display but will endevour to keep trying for the desired effect. I’ve also made poi using the four plait, thank you so much your blog site is certainly invaluable and I would also like to be added to your database if possible and would love a copy of your book.

  65. Ali Says:

    Hi Misty

    It’s good to hear you have made use of the instructions on these pages. I’m sure your flowers will get better with time.

    My book Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax is available now. Check out my Book page for details on how to purchase it.

  66. Merania Says:

    Hi Ali

    Is your book still available to buy, if so could you please add me to your data base so I could purchase it.

    Thank you
    Merania

  67. Ali Says:

    Hi Merania

    Yes my book Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax is available directly from me. The cost of the book is $30 plus postage and packaging. All the information about buying the book is on the Book page of my website.

  68. Jo Ann Te Tau Says:

    Hi, I would like to buy this Book. Can you contact me please. Thankyou

  69. Rose Wallbank Says:

    Thanks soooo much for all your info please add me to your data base, am starting my weaving.

  70. Naiomi Says:

    Hi Ali, I really like your work and I appreciate you putting your blog up. I am too a beginner weaver and I am learning a lot from your blog. In my class your name is mentioned all the time and your book is every where. I had the pleasure of browsing threw your book not long ago. I have a question for you what’s the main key to being a beginner weaver and what is your preferred way for remoistening your strips after boiling.

  71. Ali Says:

    Morena Naiomi
    Thanks for your comments about my book. It’s good to hear about the use people are getting out of it.

    I usually moisten dried flax by soaking it in cold water. It takes longer this way but it works for me as I can leave it in the water overnight and then take it out an hour or two before I use it to let it dry out a little bit. However, I’m not suggesting this is the best way, it just works for me, and it does depend on how soon you want to use the flax. If I do want to use the flax in the next hour or two I do boil it in hot water.

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