Sewing Handwoven Fabric – Getting Over The Fear

Sewing Handwoven Fabric – Getting Over The Fear

Sewing and weaving go hand in hand. Even if you have never sewn any handwoven fabrics before, you have probably sewn commercially woven fabrics!

Utilizing your handwoven fabrics in this way is a really great way to showcase and appreciate your hard work on a daily basis (depending on what you make.)

That being said, just the idea of using your fabric this way might be incredibly scary. I will go more into that in a bit, but just know that there are things that you can do to help get over the scary parts and make something amazing.

Before you can sew up your fabric, though, you have to first make it! So we are going to start by talking about a little something (really a long something) called yardage.



What is yardage


rigid heddle loom set up for yardage
Plaid yardage on my Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom (link at the bottom of the post)

Not everyone wants to weave wall hangings, tapestries, and rugs.

Sometimes you just want to weave and weave and weave.

Yardage is a really great way to do that! The goal of weaving yardage is to create long and consistent weaving to be utilized in another way. Essentially it is meant to be a step in your project and not the final piece. Once woven, these yardage weavings get turned into something else (in this case – something sewn!)

Yardage is best woven on large floor looms since they will have the capacity to hold the amount of warp and finished weaving that yardage requires. That being said, there is not a specific amount of weaving that makes yardage… yardage. 

You can also weave yardage on a rigid heddle loom if yours is wide enough to do so. The biggest issue with this is that the fabric beam does not have the same capacity as a floor loom. So while you can weave yardage, your yardage will probably be shorter. Keep this in mind when planning your weaving project.

Regardless of what loom you use, I recommend starting and ending your yardage with hemstitch. This will make it so it is very stable once it is off the loom. A little later on I will go over options for stabilization while sewing, but this is a good first step!

If you need to learn how to hemstitch then make sure to check out my simple tutorial!

Hemstitch Tutorial


handwoven yardage for sewing

It is also important to wash your fabric before attempting to do any cuts or sewing!

If you do not do this first, then your fabric could shrink which could mean that either you will not have enough fabric or your pattern could be altered. This simple step could help to keep you from wasting the handwoven fabric that you spent so much time on.

Do not skip it!

You can simply wash your fabric in the sink with a mild detergent and let it dry flat. If it is something that will eventually be washed in a washing machine then it is best to go through the effort of washing it and drying it as it will be used in the future. This will make sure that it does not continue to change after you have already made what you want with it.

Do not forget that when weaving plain weave the space between your warp and weft will shrink after washing. You do not have to beat really hard when weaving! Beat evenly and consistently and it should bloom and fill in after it is washed.


handwoven fabric before and after washing

Beyond yardage, an example of a time that you may want to sew your handwoven fabric is when you are making samples.

If you weave a bunch of samples on one warp then you can sew the fabric before cutting them apart. To do this, make sure to leave space between each sample.

Sew a straight stitch at the top and bottom of each sample. You do not have to do anything special to the fabric in order to be able to do this! Once each sample is secure you can cut them apart.

If you want to see some handwoven fabric being sewn with a sewing machine make sure to get to the end of this post!

Also check out:

The importance of weaving samples

Getting multiple weavings with one warp


Why you might have woven panels


handwoven panels for sewing

If you want to create large weavings but do not have a loom with that capability then you still have options! Weaving in panels is a great way to expand on your weaving options without purchasing a new and larger loom. 

Panels could be created for either wider or longer weavings (or both) depending on what you are working with. Even if you just have a small simple frame loom you can create larger pieces by connecting small squares or rectangles.

You can even take advantage of this and work it into your design! You do not have to hide the fact that you are combining multiple weavings. Instead, embrace it!


Tools needed for sewing your handwoven fabric


Depending on the type of sewing you want to do – you will need different tools. Hand sewing is the simplest and requires the least amount of supplies. There will be a list at the end of this post with links to the specific tools that I used so make sure to check that out!

Sewing and/or tapestry needles (All About Tapestry Needles)

Yarn or thread

Sewing machine if doing anything other than attaching panels

Muslin (to make a mock-up of your project)

Fusible interfacing

Fabric scissors

Pins

Iron


How to attach woven panels (hand sew)


sew handwoven panels tutorial

When attaching panels you will do a simple figure 8 stitch.

One of the best things to do is use an extra length of warp yarn so that it can blend in easily. If you choose a different yarn or thread then your attachments will be more obvious. For the examples above and below, I used a different color so that it is easier to see.

First, thread your tapestry needle with warp yarn.

Lay your two panels next to each other and find your first loop of weft yarn on one of the panels.

Bring your tapestry needle through that loop and then zig-zag over to the first loop on the adjacent panel.

Continue this zig-zag motion to the end of your panels.

Tie it off and you are done!


sew handwoven panels tutorial

Sew patterns (machine sew)


There are a few main steps when it comes to sewing your handwoven fabric with a sewing machine. When it comes to actually sewing the fabric, though, it really is not much different from sewing any other fabric. As long as you can get over the fear of messing it up.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Getting over the scary factor


Sewing your handwoven fabric on a sewing machine can be a little more daunting than just hand sewing two panels together. This is partially because more than likely this means that you will have to cut your fabric to make whatever you are planning. 

Ahh!

I get it, you spent all that time weaving your beautiful fabric only to have to cut it up? What if you mess up?

Then you just weave more. (Not ideal, right?)

It is scary, but you made the fabric for a reason, and keeping it untouched forever is doing it a disservice. So it is time to cut it up and start sewing!

That being said, I recommend doing a practice project on regular non-handwoven fabric. Muslin is the go-to fabric for project mock-ups since it is inexpensive. If you are going to do any sewing at all then I recommend keeping muslin in your fabric stash for this reason.


Stabilizing your fabric


cutting handwoven fabric for sewing

When it comes to sewing your real deal woven fabric then you have a few options that basically come down to giving your fabric a bit more stability. 

If you have a pattern you are planning to use then your first step is to cut out your pattern pieces and lay it on your fabric. Just like weaving with any fabric you will want to try to utilize your handwoven textiles the best you can. Keep your pattern in mind first, but then make sure to lay your pattern out so that you can get the most out of the least amount of fabric. 

You do not want to waste all your hard work by spreading your pattern out too much! 

Once your pattern is set you will want to pin it to your fabric just like normal. You can then either mark your handwoven fabric with a water soluble marker or keep the pattern attached for the next step. 

In order to get your stability, you basically have to create individually shaped woven pieces by sewing around the pattern or marked areas. The sewing itself is not really that different from sewing normal fabric, but I recommend going slow and maybe practicing on a sample or area that will not be used. 

This can be a bit difficult, but it will allow you to use only the handwoven fabric and nothing else to stabilize it. This is ideal if you want the handwoven fabric and only the handwoven fabric in your finished piece.


handwoven fabric and fusible interfacing

For a more stable option, you can use fusible interfacing.

Interfacing is a type of fabric that will get attached to the back of your fabric through the use of heat (usually your iron.) This fabric will make it so your handwoven fabric will behave just like any commercial fabric! 

Once you attach your fusible interfacing you can cut your handwoven fabric without fear of it falling apart. You do not even have to sew it first!

I like to use cotton interfacing as opposed to the more common poly because I weave solely with non-synthetic yarns. If you are weaving with synthetic yarn then using poly-based interfacing should not be an issue. 

To use your interfacing make sure to follow the directions on the specific fabric you bought.

Generally speaking, you will be ironing on your interfacing so make sure to have your iron, a cover fabric*, and your handwoven fabric. You will want to turn your handwoven fabric so that the front is facing down. Place your interfacing down on top of your fabric with the adhesive side facing the fabric. Cover this with a cover fabric and iron on medium to high heat depending on the interfacing you have.

*Your cover fabric is important because it is possible for the adhesive of your interfacing to seep through and get onto your iron. This has not happened to me, but it is an easy step to take to protect your iron just in case.


sew handwoven fabric with interfacing
Handwoven fabric with iron on interfacing attached to the back.

What can you make with handwoven fabric?


What can’t you make?

If you can make it with commercial fabric then you can make it with your handwoven fabric!

Remember that sewing yardage is just sewing fabric.

That being said, you will want to utilize your handwoven fabric effectively and really have it be the star of the show. I recommend utilizing commercial fabrics to supplement your handwoven fabrics where applicable. No sense in using up precious yardage for the underside of something!


It is that simple!


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The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory – Weaving Book Review

The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory – Weaving Book Review

You may have heard of this book before, especially if you have been around Warped Fibers for a while. The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon is a very well-known pattern book in the weaving world. It also happens to be one of my favorites. Before I give away my review though (!) make sure to keep reading.

A little background info: I have had this book since I started weaving on a floor loom when I was a student. It was a required purchase for my class, but I 100 percent would have purchased it even without the requirement! I use it any time I want to weave patterns on my floor loom. I also recommend it left and right to my students because, yeah, it is that good.



This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!


About the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory


handweavers pattern directory

Devoted to 4 shaft patterns this book has so many different types of patterns for you to choose from. It has 256 pages with full-color images of the draw-down for each draft and diagrams at the beginning of each section to help you understand each pattern. That is a really good point that I want to spend another sentence or two on. You can try out these patterns all you want, but actually understanding why they work the way they do makes a big difference in your learning. Real learning (for anything) requires going beyond the surface and getting a little deeper.

Speaking of learning – make sure you check out How To Read A Weaving Draft.

With the large full-color images The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is really great book to look through and get ideas and inspiration because the images are large and bright. Feeling stuck? Just browse the book and try something new!

The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is also spiral bound! If you have read my other reviews then you know how much I love spiral-bound weaving instruction books.

Spiral-bound instruction books allow you to lay the book flat and stay open to the page that you need when weaving. This one specifically also has a harder binding over the top of the spiral which makes it so the spiral stays in place. Sometimes with spiral books, it can move a bit and you have to fiddle with it at the top or bottom, but this book does not have that issue.

We do not have time for that.

Check out my other books reviews:

Learning To Weave Book Review

Inventive Weaving On A Little Loom Book Review


Get It On Amazon!


What this book has


handweavers pattern directory with twill weaving

Well, pretty much any pattern you can think of that can be done with 4 shafts!

But that is not all!



It also includes information on color theory plus other basic weaving information. The beginning of the book has 17 pages that get you started and ready to weave.

So what are some of the patterns that you can expect to find?

Plain weave patterns

Straight and point drafts

Twills

Block drafts

Overshot

Monk’s belt

Honeycomb

Spot Bronson

Swedish lace

Double weave

& More!

Yeah, this is not all of them.

Plus, all of these are actually categories that have multiple variations in them. So there are tons of patterns for you to try out.


What I wish it had


handweavers pattern directory with honeycomb weaving

Nothing is perfect and I would be doing you a disservice if I pretended that this book has no faults. That being said, I am not sure this could really be considered a fault, but something that would have made it even better!

I wish that this book had more information on converting drafts for other types of looms.

This is such a great pattern book but this would make it so that even more weavers could utilize it. It is possible to convert floor loom patterns for table looms and possibly also for rigid heddle looms, but it does not give you information on how to do it.

So is this a deal breaker? Not necessarily, but it is something to keep in mind.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Who this book is and is not for


The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is a must for anyone with a floor loom who is interested in patterns. The patterns that it contains are varied and that means you are not stuck with just one type of pattern. Even if you think you are only interested in twills, you still have access to all that overshot!

Just looking through this book can inspire you to try out new patterns. So if you are looking for a way to bring new inspiration to your weaving studio then this could also be a really good book to add to your weaving library. There are so many different patterns and variations to look through that you will not be bored.

While the book does also have some general weaving information about tools, materials, and more I would not recommend buying it just for that.

That is not what this book is for, but instead an extra added bonus for those that are looking to weave patterns.

If you are looking for a book that covers those topics more in-depth then I highly recommend Learning To Weave by Deborah Chandler. You can also check out my full review (also linked above)


handweavers pattern directory with swedish lace weaving

Got a favorite weaving book? Wanting a book reviewed before you buy it for your weaving library? Let me know!


What Are Pile Weaves? Rya, Ghiordes, Velvet, & More

What Are Pile Weaves? Rya, Ghiordes, Velvet, & More

Have you ever heard of pile weaving?

Even if you never noticed, you probably come in contact with pile weaving every single day! (To be fair, you usually will come in contact with at least one type of weaving every day – it is everywhere!)

But the pile weave I am talking about is carpet.

You know, that flooring option that a lot of people hate and replace with hardwood floors? Yep, carpet is a type of pile weave.

Similarly, pile weave can also be found in a lot of rugs, terrycloth (towels), and corduroy.


This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!



So what exactly is it?

Pile weave is a generic term for a style of weaving that has a three-dimensional texture on its surface. There are many different types of pile weave, but two common techniques are rya knots and looped pile.

A pile can be either cut or looped, depending on what you are going for. If you have ever purchased a high-quality rug you may have seen these terms before.

Beyond just the “pile” or the three-dimensional pieces – a pile weave contains another very important component. In order to maintain the integrity of the fabric, most pile woven textiles also contain a ground weft. 

If you read through my overshot weaving post then you may already be familiar with ground weft!

Just in case you have not looked through it yet, a ground weft is a plain weave (tabby) weft that is woven between the pile weft in order to create a stable fabric. 


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Traditional Persian rugs


If you have ever shopped for a throw rug for your home, then you have probably come across Persian rugs… and their price tag.

Persian rugs are usually pretty expensive, and for very good reason. They are all hand knotted. Plus they are made with silk and wool with no synthetic fibers in sight.

Rugs have been woven in Iran since at least 2,500 years ago! They were originally made and used out of necessity for protection against the harsh environment, but due to their intricacy and beauty, they were eventually seen as a symbol of wealth. Originally these Persian rugs used an asymmetrical knot called a Persian (Senneh) knot. But, after Persia (modern-day Iran) was conquered by a Turkish tribe the trajectory of the Persian rug was changed forever.

The Turkish tribe brought with them the Turkish (ghiordes/ rya) knot that is used in a lot of Persian rugs today.


Velvet


tessitura bevilacqua velvet

Another common pile fabric that you probably know about, but have never thought about is velvet.

Velvet is actually a warp pile weave and thus requires two separate warps to be wound on either separate beams or individual bobbins (shown below.) The other pile weaves discussed in this post are all weft pile.

If you ever have the chance to go to Venice, Italy, I HIGHLY recommend taking a tour of Tessitura Bevilacqua. Tessitura Bevilacqua is a historic weaving studio and school that specializes in velvets. You can walk through rows of 17th-century Jacquard looms that are still in use today!

During the tour you can also watch the weavers create this extraordinary fabric by weaving and cutting the pile weave. 


tessitura bevilacqua looms
That is me on the right walking through the looms! I was in love.

Tessitura Bevilacqua has created velvets for many prominent organizations and people throughout history. Including the Kremlin and the Catholic Church.

If you are interested in weaving history then there really is not a better place to visit and walk through. When I toured the weaving studio, it really was one of the biggest highlights of my entire trip to Italy.


Rya (Turkish/ ghiordes) knots


rya knots front and back - pile weaves

The terms rya, ghiordes, and Turkish knots can all be used interchangeably.

Essentially, rya is a Scandinavian carpet created with Turkish knots and ghiordes is a Turkish rug made with Turkish knots. The terms rya and ghiordes have become synonyms for the type of symmetrical pile knot that is needed to create these rugs.

I most often use the term rya because that is what I was originally taught.

Rya knots are one of the simplest pile weaves that you can learn to weave! There are actually multiple ways to make rya knots, but the one that I use and teach the most is almost annoyingly easy to do.

What do I mean by that? 

Rya knots are a very often requested technique that I get from students. It makes sense! The shag-like pile that they create is enticing and tactile. They are also often used to create long and flowing fringe at the bottom selvedge of your weaving.

Once I show students how to do it, it can be almost anti-climactic.

“That is it?”

Yep. That is all there is to it.

So let’s go over this super simple rya knot technique that you can use to weave all the tactile shag rugs that you want.


How to make rya knots


how to make rya knots

The most important thing that you need to know before making any type of pile weave is that you must start with plain weave.

If you were to just start your rya knots onto your warp without plain weave then it would fall off when you take it off the loom!

Ahh!

So always start with at least a full pass (left and right) of plain weave before starting. This is true even if you are using your rya as fringe. This is because your rya knots will be long enough to cover your full plain weave pass.

Rya is made my taking individual lengths of yarn and wrapping it around your warps. It is best to cut all your rya wefts at the same time to make sure they are the same size. You could also wrap your weft yarn around some cardboard that is the right length you want and then cut them off. This will make sure they are all the exact same size.

Rya is worked around two warps at a time. Your rya weft will go over the top of the two warps with equal amounts of weft on each side.

Then bring the ends through the middle of your two warps.

Pull down and repeat!

See. I told you it was easy.

After your row of rya you would want to do another row of plain weave to make sure your weaving is very secure (this is your ground weft I mentioned at the beginning.)

You can mix it up by using more than one weft at a time per rya knot. Try using different colored yarns or just more of them for a fuller textile!

When you are finished you can trim down your rya knots so they are all the same size. Trimming them also gives your weaving a cleaner and fuller look.


Looped pile


rya knots and loop pile weave

Looped pile weaves create a fun bubbly-type texture on the surface of your weaving. (The blue yarn in the image above.) This simple looped pile technique does require one extra tool in order to make uniform loops.

I really like using a bamboo knitting needle because it is a really good thickness – not too thin and not too thick. They are also smooth and made for yarn so you do not have to worry about any snagging – your yarn will always pull off smoothly. This is the size that I used for the example:


Get It On Amazon


Really, though, you can use anything that you can wrap yarn around that is the same diameter along its entire length. Dowel rods, straws, or pencils are all options that you can choose if you are looking for something around your house.


How to make looped pile


loop pile weave how to

The first thing that you want to do is attach your pile weft yarn to your warp. You can do this by just weaving two warps and then weaving your tail back in. (If you do not know how to weave your tails in then make sure to check out THIS post.)

Hold your knitting needle or whatever you are using up to the warp. Your first loop is the most annoying because it is not yet secure, but don’t worry it does not last long.

With your weft on a tapestry needle bring it over your rod so that you are working on top of it. Find the next warp that you would normally go under and pull the weft under that warp.

Next, bring your weft back over the rod so that you are now working underneath it. Find the next under warp and pull your weft through.

Work your way across the rod until you get to the other selvedge.


loop pile weave how to

You are almost done!

In order to secure your looped pile you will need to weave at least one pick of plain weave over top of it. After you go all the way across to the other selvedge you can pull out the rod and set it aside.

Beat down your pile and now you are ready for the next row (which is done exactly the same way!)


Experimenting with different types of yarns, pile lengths, and yarn amounts can lead to some really fun and interesting weavings. Plus pile weaves can be used anywhere in your weaving, not just at the end or all in one row. Consider creating areas of pile weave paired with areas of plain weave to really emphasize the textures you created.

I always love to notice different weaving structures out in the wild (outside the studio) and pile weaves are pretty much everywhere!

Let me know your favorite pile weave in the comments!


Resources


https://www.little-persia.com/rug-guides/rug-history

https://nazmiyalantiquerugs.com/scandinavian-rugs/

https://nazmiyalantiquerugs.com/turkish-ghiordes-rugs/

https://www.little-persia.com/rug-guides/country


Why You Should Join Weaving Organizations & Guilds

Why You Should Join Weaving Organizations & Guilds

Weavers are a part of a community. You may have heard me say that before…

And while Warped Fibers is a great community to be a part of, that does not mean it has to be your only community!

In fact, there are many different organizations that you can be a member of that can help you further your weaving knowledge and reach.

Depending on what you are looking for you have some options. There are large-scale and small-scale organizations that you can join. Also, if you look at your local level you might be able to find a weaving guild.

On a larger scale there are more expansive options like The American Craft Council, The American Tapestry Alliance, Surface Design Association, and The Handweaver’s Guild of America. All of these different organizations come with perks!

Who doesn’t love perks?


If you have not already, don’t forget to join the Warped Fibers community! (Yes, there are perks!)


Become a member


Most organizations will require a fee for membership.

This probably comes at no surprise.

Fees vary depending on the organization and the level that you subscribe to. There are also usually discounts for prepaying for your membership for multiple years in advance. If you can swing it, then this is the best way to join because you will save money in the long run.

If you are a student, they often have reduced fees! If you are a student then definitely make sure to check that out and take advantage of your student status!


Membership Perks


weaving and fiber organizations membership

Discounts on entering shows


Entering art shows and exhibitions costs money.

Ugh. Of course.

If you want to show your work and you find the price of entering shows a little high, then joining an organization can be a good option!

Yes, as we just said, you usually have to pay to be a member. When you add up all though, the other perks that you get then you will end up saving money in the long run. 

Not only will you probably get a discount for entering a show, but you may also get access to shows that you would not be able to enter if you were not already a member.

As another plus, a lot of organizations will have shows that showcase only the work of their members. Some even pull work from their own directories for online exhibits – no entering required!

If you want access to these types of exhibits then make sure to check out some the organizations that I have linked later on.

If you are not sure about whether or not their shows would be a good fit for you then make sure to check out their previous exhibits. Most of them will have a page on their site devoted to current and past shows. These shows can help you get a good idea of what to expect for the future.


Embroidery weaving by Nicole Bunting
Traverse, Nicole Bunting, 2020

This embroidery weaving was in the Handweaver’s Guild of America’s: Small Expressions Exhibit.


Discounts on craft shows


Do you like to look at weaving and other Crafts? Certain fiber art and weaving organizations will have physical craft shows that you can visit.

Specifically, the American Craft Council (ACC) has a few shows around the country that are huge.

I mean HUGE.

They feature many artists that range from weavers to woodworkers and everyone in between.

With membership to the ACC you get at least one complimentary ticket (it depends on your membership level) to the craft show of your choice.

I was able to go to their show in Baltimore a few different years, and honestly, it is something that I look forward to greatly. You get to experience many different types of art all in one place and talk to other makers just like you.

If you want to participate, but you are still new and not sure if it is right for you, then they also have an emerging artists program that gives you a smaller and more manageable space for an emerging artist.



Access to members only content


Exclusive content is a really great perk that you can get for being a member.

Look out for Facebook groups like the ATA’s Let’s Talk Tapestry group where questions are answered and tapestry weavers are spotlighted. They also have monthly tapestry topics to discuss and members can share their tapestries in progress for review or encouragement.

That is only one example.

Joining these groups are a great way to talk to other tapestry weavers from around the country. Look into the organization you are thinking about joining to see if they have anything similar.

Speaking of members-only content – did you know that if you have signed up for my FREE butterfly mini-course or any other online course that I teach then you can join the Warped Weavers Facebook group!


Magazines


weaving and fiber organizations magazines

Whether you like digital or physical magazines, you will be in luck!

A lot of organizations come with a subscription to their magazine as part of the perks of membership. Monthly or quarterly magazines can be delivered to your mailbox or inbox. They showcase artwork that could inspire you or teach you about textile traditions around the world. 

These are fantastic to get if you are the kind of person that likes to have inspiration delivered straight to you. Not only do they contain helpful information, but they also usually have interviews or articles on practicing artists that you can read. If you want to keep up with what other fiber artists are doing then this is a great way to do it.

If you are sustainably minded (yay!) then check to see if they have a digital option instead of a physical one. Physical magazines are usually the default, so just make sure to read all your subscription options. Bonus: sometimes you get a discount if you only want the digital magazine!

Save money and paper – still get inspired!

If you like to have as much textile content as you can then this might be another great way to get it.


Artist directories


Most organizations will have a member directory that lists all of their members. Depending on the organization there will be different information that you can display beyond just your name.

You may be able to showcase your website, textile techniques practiced, or topics you are interested in. These directories can be really great to be a part of because you may just be contacted because of them for opportunities. 

If you are a premium member of the Surface Design Association (SDA) for example then you have the ability to upload your work to a special premium gallery. This gallery is used for the SDA to pull work from for some of their online exhibits. No extra application work for you!

Some organizations will also feature you on their social media. This one can be a really big deal if you are trying to get your work out there. Social media reaches so many people and the big organizations probably have the reach that you do not. (No shade, they have way more of a reach than I do!)


At Any Given Moment featured in the Exposure section of the Summer 2020 Surface Design Association magazine.

Meet up with like-minded makers


Guilds are more likely to be local and therefore you might actually be able to meet up either in person or via zoom with other makers and weavers. 

These meet-ups can be really great because talking to other like-minded people can be one of the best ways to stay inspired and on track with your weaving. If you need some accountability to make sure you do not let life get in the way of your weaving then having someone local can be a great option.

Guilds may also have members only retreats or workshops that you can join. This is on top of their exhibitions!

If you are wondering about the weaving guilds in your area, the best things to do are to either ask other local weavers or just search Google.


Which organizations should you be a member of?


Short answer? I can not tell you that.

It will all depend on what your weaving and fiber art goals are. The same answer goes for whether or not you should join more than one. All of the different organizations have different member perks, resources, and content. The best thing to do is research them to figure out if they make sense for you.

As for myself, I am a member of many different organizations and one regional guild. This is because I have found value in being a part of all of them for various reasons.

I recommend you take a look at the options that you have and create a list with perks and prices. Determine what you are willing to spend (if anything) to have access to what they have to offer.

If you just want to be a member of a weaving community with no monetary commitment – the Warped community is always open and free.


The weaving and fiber art organizations where I am a member



Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

At the very beginning of your weaving adventure you will probably make weavings that are not… great. 

I definitely did. 

This is ok. 

Actually, it is more than ok, and that is the whole point of this post.

Making these “bad” weavings is one of the best ways you can learn how to be a better weaver.

That is because those “bad” weavings are not really bad.


Also, let me just define bad so that there are no misunderstandings.


“Bad” weavings are those that do not turn out the way you want them to.

This could mean any number of things, but really it is all about how you feel about the weaving, not me or anyone else. Your definition could also change over time. The images in this post of my own weavings that just do not meet my personal criteria anymore or are different than I wanted them to be.



So hear me out here.

You should make bad weavings.

FYI: You should also cook bad food and write bad stories etc. etc.

Basically, doing anything either the wrong way or just not up to par will help you to learn. Part of learning is not only knowing what you should do but also what you should not do. 

It could also be as simple as doing everything right, but just finding out that the style is not your thing or the colors just do not really do it for you. These are OK and in fact, make you a better weaver because learning makes you better.

The thing is, though, that they are not always a way to learn more about weaving, but sometimes a way to learn more about yourself. I love always adding some weaving philosophy for you.


Why you should make mistakes in your weaving


My first weaving ever. The magazine was put there to hide my wonky selvedges. You know what? I now use paper in my weavings on purpose.

Every time you make a mistake you will learn from it.

Learning from a book, website*, or video are all really great options for learning how to weave. 

*I am glad you are here!*

The thing is that I guarantee no matter how many times you read or see someone doing certain things, you will not remember all of them unless you try it yourself. Doing is the best way to learn.

Then the first time it does not work, it will actually help you to understand the mechanics of the technique that you are trying to use.

This is because it helps you to figure out how to fix it. Understanding the mechanics of something is how you really learn how to do things. Otherwise, your knowledge is only surface level. When you do this you will be less likely to make the same mistake more than once.

If you do make that mistake more than once? Well, now you know how to fix it and you will be able to do it easier.

My weaving teacher always called these “teachable moments” and that always stuck with me. When it comes down to it, a mistake is really only a mistake if you do not learn from it. 



In the image above you can see one of my very first weavings.

Yep, I made that.

The selvedges are pulling in and it was supposed to be a tapestry, but the warp is clearly visible in many spots. This is due to both the fact that my EPI was not really correct in the first place and it got even tighter as the warp pulled in. (Make sure to click to learn more about warp density.)

This weaving, though, was a crucial part of my weaving journey. It taught me about taking my time to watch my selvedges and just how much your straight selvedges can affect your EPI. It also was my first attempt at using alternative materials in my weaving. This weaving taught me so much and I show it to my students on the first day of every one of my classes for that reason.

(Check out THIS POST if you want to make plastic bag yarn.)

I can not say that I never made a weaving with pulled-in selvedges ever again – but I slowly got better and better. Learning more from each “bad” weaving that I made.

If you want to learn about how I now keep my selvedges straight make sure to check out THIS post!


The amazing thing about happy accidents


learn from bad weaving

“Ugh. I did not mean to do that.”

One accident does not make a bad weaving. In fact, an accident can actually save a weaving from being generic.

Sometimes accidents are just accidents. You notice them. You fix them. You learn from them, then you move on.

Other times a weaving accident could be better at making decisions than you are.

Let me clarify that a bit.

Weaving accidents could be as simple as using the wrong weft yarn on a pick or beating your weft differently. These things probably are not intentional, but they might add something to your weaving that it was missing.

Happy accidents are one of my favorite things about creating. Sometimes I get really interesting moments in my weavings that were honestly made by mistake. 

That mistake could be more interesting than what it was actually supposed to be.

As long as it does not mess with the integrity of the weaving you could embrace it and possibly do it on purpose in the future!


Bad weavings are a great starting point


turn bad weavings into samples

Your “bad” weaving does not have to be the end result.

There is no rule that says that just because a weaving was not supposed to be a sample it can not become one.

Part of being creative is knowing when to realize when things work and when they don’t. While the saying “cut your losses” almost applies, I would like to instead suggest “find your wins”.

Ok, so maybe don’t keep weaving if you can see it is not working and you can not fix it. So yeah, in that case cut your losses.

Then figure out why it did not work and take note of what did work. I can almost guarantee that it was not all bad. Did the EPI work? How were the colors? The overall structure of the weaving?

Learn. From. It.

That “bad” weaving is the beginning of your next great one.

A bad weaving does not have to be a sample, but if you can get your mistakes or happy accidents over within your sample it will definitely make weaving your finished piece a more enjoyable experience. 

I have done many samples that did not work out, but I was able to learn from them. The samples shown above were supposed to be a proof of concept for a weaving. Are they bad? No, not really, but they are not what I wanted them to be.

I kept trying and trying and with each one. The funny thing is I actually got some more ideas for different weavings in the process.



No one – and I mean no one starts weaving great weavings from the very beginning. This learning curve will test you. It will let you know if you are a weaver or not.

If you can make it through the part of your weaving journey where you make “bad” weavings then you are a weaver.

That being said, a real weaver does not only make perfect, great work even when they are no longer new. If you are always making something that works then you are not pushing yourself and your weavings to be better.

Making “bad” weavings means that you are trying new things. That is never bad.


Overshot Weaving – History & Tips

Overshot Weaving – History & Tips

Overshot weaving is still one of those patterns that I see and I just can not seem to get over how cool and interesting it looks!

While it looks like it would be a very time-intensive and difficult technique to weave – it really isn’t! You just have to understand how and why it works the way it does. (We will get to that.)


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What is overshot?


In its simplest form – overshot is a weaving technique that utilizes at least 2 different types of weft yarns and floats to create a pattern. These patterns are often heavily geometric.

The name overshot possibly comes from the way the weft “shoots” over the plain weave (ground weft) to create decorative floats.

With the aid of a ground weft, overshot allows for you to repeat the same weft pattern in multiple lines without losing the integrity of the fabric. 


overshot weaving diagram

Let’s go over a few words I just mentioned to make sure they make sense.

Ground weft – plain weave pattern that is used between each row of your overshot pattern. This plain weave gives the textile structure and allows for large areas of overshot to be woven without creating an overly sleazy fabric. Without the use of a ground weft on an overshot pattern, the weaving would not hold together because there would not be enough warp and weft intersections to create a solid weaving.

(Don’t forget to check out my post on 3 basic weaving patterns!)

Floats – Created when you have your weft yarn go over more than one warp yarn at a time. They “float” over top of the warp.  I did an entire post on floats and using them in your weaving so make sure to check that out.



Overshot History


One great thing about overshot is that it often appeals to both historical and modern weavers.

For modern weavers it tends to evoke the magic of weaving at the turn of the 19th century.

Historically, overshot was often used to create coverlets (essentially fancy bedspreads) and could be found all over colonial America.

They were most popular though in southern Appalachia and continued to be so even after textile technologies advanced. When other parts of colonial America moved to jacquard weaving, the weavers of southern Appalachia continued to weave their overshot coverlets by hand.

There were two major types of coverlet patterns: geometric (overshot) and figured and fancy.

Since the overshot coverlets were most often woven at home on smaller looms they usually had a seam down the middle where two woven panels were sewn together.


overshot weaving front and back
Front and back of the same overshot cloth. Due to their weave structure they are distinct opposites.

Modern Overshot Applications


While overshot is a traditional technique, that does not mean that you can not use it in your more contemporary projects!

The thing about overshot is that no matter the application, it is pretty impressive. Perhaps that is just my opinion, but due to how complex it can look, I feel that it is pretty safe to say.

Just because it was originally used for coverlets, does not mean it can only be used for coverlets. Changing aspects of the pattern like the colors used, or the way you use your ground weft can drastically change the look and feel of your weaving.

Some different overshot applications that you may want to consider:


Discontinuous ground weft

In the image below you can see the ground weft is not the same color throughout. Instead, I wove the ground weft as discontinuous so that I could add extra pattern and design into the weavings. In this case, you may be wondering how to deal with your weft yarns when they are in the middle of the weaving and not at the selvage.

Great question!

The discontinuous weft yarns will float onto the back of the weaving until you are ready for them in their next pick. This does make your overshot weaving one sided since it will have vertical floats on the back. Keep this in mind if you want to try this technique out.

Learn to weave discontinuous weft HERE!


overshot weaving discontinuous tabby

Variegated overshot weft

Also seen in the image above, the overshot yarn that I used was not all one color! This is a really simple way to get extra dimension and interest in your overshot if that is something you are looking for.

Since the yarn does the color changing for you, you do not have to do any extra work.

Overshot only in certain areas

Overshot is already a combination of weave structures. Plain weave for your ground weft and weft floats for the overshot.

This makes it simple to be able to only weave overshot in certain parts of your weaving. If you want to do this then you can continue to weave your plain weave across the entire width of your weaving, but only weave overshot in specific areas. This creates a overshot section that functions similar to inlay.


Overshot Weaving Tips


overshot weaving front and back

Use thick and thin weft for a better pattern


Since the overshot pattern is strongly influenced by the weft yarns that are used it is important to choose the right yarns. Your weaving will be set up to the specification needed for a balanced plain weave. Make sure you understand EPI in order to get the right warp sett for your overshot weaving.

The ground weft used is almost always the same yarn as your warp. This allows the overshot weft to really be able to shine without contrasting warp and weft plain weave yarns.

Your overshot weft should be much thicker than your ground weft. Unlike your ground weft, the thickness of your yarn is not determined by the EPI, but instead on how much of a presence you want it to have in your weaving. 

In order to get the full effect of the overshot, it must be thick enough that when you are weaving your pattern it covers up the ground weft between each pass. If it is not thick enough to do this, it will still be overshot, but the full effect will not be seen.

Keep in mind the behavior of your yarns and how they will behave once washed. Some yarns will bloom and become fuller after a wash and some will not. Yarns that bloom will fill in your ground weft gaps and create a nicer pattern.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Use a floating selvedge


One issue with overshot is that it can be hard to keep your selvedges looking neat.

A simple tip for this is to have an extra warp thread at each selvedge that does not slot into a heddle.

This warp thread is called a floating selvedge.

What this warp thread does is serve as an all-purpose selvedge that does not correspond with your pattern. Instead, you would make sure to go around this warp thread every time to make sure that you are able to weave fully to the selvedge. Without this, your overshot weft will float awkwardly on the back of your weaving whenever the pattern does not take it to the edge.


If you want to weave overshot then I highly recommend purchasing The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.


Get It On Amazon


I have mentioned this book multiple times because it really is such a great resource for any weaver looking to weave patterns of all types. It contains 23 pages of different overshot patterns (among so many other patterns) that you can set up on your floor or table loom.


Can you weave overshot on any type of loom?


overshot weaving on a frame loom

(Technically) Yes!

Like a lot of different types of weaving, it is possible to do it on almost any type of loom that you have. The difference being that it might take you a little bit longer or require a bit more effort than if you did it on a traditional floor loom. 

Weaving overshot on a frame loom or rigid heddle loom will require the use of string heddles and pick-up sticks that you have to manually use to create a shed. 


Resources


https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/national-woven-coverlet-collection/history-and-construction

http://www.coverletmuseum.org/museum.htm

https://comfortclothweaving.com/history-overshot-weaving/

https://handwovenmagazine.com/weaving-history-early-american-coverlets/


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