There is a lot of mystery behind double weave, but once you understand how it works it makes so. much. sense!

I get so many questions about this weaving technique including:

What is it?

What can it do?

and of course

How?!?!?

I get it. It seems like it would be a very difficult technique to weave and set-up, but if you can weave plain weave on a 4 shaft loom then I promise you can weave double weave.

There are a lot of different types of double weave, but today we are going to be focusing on the basics a.k.a. double weave on a 4 shaft floor loom. 


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Double weave is a weaving technique where you are weaving multiple layers of weaving on the same loom.

On a 4 shaft loom it is most often used to literally double the weaving width of your loom! This means if you have a 25 inch weaving width on your loom you will be able to weave a 50 inch plain woven fabric. There are a lot of other fun and versatile things that this weaving type can do, but we will get into that a little bit later.



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When you are weaving double weave you will be weaving 2 layers of weaving “at the same time”.

You are not actually weaving them at the same time, but it is often described that way. You are actually weaving the different layers with your treadling pattern in different sheds.

You will need at least 4 shafts to weave a plain woven double weaving because you will need 2 shafts for 1 layer and 2 shafts for the other.

Think of it this way: regular plain weave really only requires 2 shafts. You need to be able to lift and lower only 2 sets of warps at any time. We often use 4 shafts for plain weave mainly because they are there and it is easy enough to just get used to using all 4 shafts of your loom. This also helps to prepare you for more complicated patterns.

If you only need 2 shafts for plain weave then double weave (where you are weaving 2 sections of plain weave) only requires 4 shafts total! 

Really, it’s like magic!

So how do you weave 2 sections at a time?

To best understand how double weave works we need to think of our weaving in layers and sections. A regular plain woven fabric will have 2 ”layers” when it is being woven. One layer is our even warps and the other is our odd warps. To weave plain weave you will lift layer 1, weave, lift layer 2, weave, repeat. This regular plain weave is only 1 “section”.

The hardest part to imagine with double weave is how to weave the bottom section.  

With a top and bottom section in double weave you will have to lift the entire top section and alternating layers of the bottom section in order to weave separate pieces of fabric. Think of it as lifting away the entire top section and moving it out of the way in order to access the bottom.

Double weave will have 4 layers – 2 for each section of your fabric. We will call our sections A and B. You will lift the first layer of section A and weave, lift both layers of A and the first layer of section B, weave, lift the second layer of A, weave, then both layers of A and the second layer of B, weave, repeat. 

Let’s look at a diagram:


double weave side view diagram
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Even if you can wrap your head around how the double weave comes to be, it has to be hard to set up and weave, right?

Nope!

If you can follow tie-up and treadling instructions then you can easily weave double weave.

Brush up on how to read weaving pattern drafts here.

It is really no different than weaving any other pattern except that you will have to remember to warp your loom with 2 warps in every dent of your reed. This will also mean you will need double the amount of warp yarn for your project, so keep that mind when you are planning your project.

As far as your weft goes, you will also need double the amount. You can think of it as planning for 2 weavings that just so happen to be woven on top of each other.



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As I said earlier, the most common (in my experience) use of double weave is to double the width of your loom.

If you follow the draft above and weave with a separate weft for the top and the bottom then you will have 2 distinct sections of fabric that will come apart when they are off the loom. They will look exactly the same as any other plain woven fabric you have woven in the past.

If you, instead, weave with just 1 weft then you can connect your double weave on 1 or both sides. Connecting on just 1 side will create a “hinge” that will open up when your weaving is done! This is how you double your width! 

While this aspect of double weave in and of itself is impressive and worth the learning curve, that is not the only trick it can do.

With the exact same threading you can also try out some other options.

If you connect your sections on both sides you will create a tube with an opening at the top and the bottom. This could be a fun option if you want to create a bag. All you will need to do is sew up the bottom of the tube and you have a simple bag ready to go. 

If you cross your top and bottom section then you can create connected tubes with side openings. To do this you will change up your tie-up.

You can also weave the same weft on the top and the bottom, but meet in the middle to create a top pocket. (image below)

And if you are feeling really into everything, then you can weave double weave with pick-up to create designs and imagery, but honestly that is probably it’s own future post or class.

The double weave drafts for all of these techniques can be found in The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.


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Like most things in weaving, creating samples is ALWAYS a good idea.

In the case of double weave, a full sampler can be a really fun and enlightening way to explore the possibilities of basic double weave. Setting up your loom to allow you to weave a few inches of all of the above options can help you to get your hands on the techniques to better help you understand the mechanics and help you choose what you want to continue with in the future. I used a yellow yarn between each of the different techniques in my sampler to better differentiate between them in the future.

I recommend choosing very different colors for your top and bottom sections. This way it is even easier to see what is going on in your sampler. While you can weave with the same color on the top and bottom section, you will generally get more out of the experience if you can really see the different sections.

Double weave is a such a fun and interesting weaving technique because it really makes you think about how weaving works! Let me know if you try it out and how it goes.


-Nicole
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