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Apr 27

Slit & Weft Interlock Techniques for Tapestry

From Explore Tapestry Weave Along read the first post here.

With Jane Patrick

Slit Tapestry

We’ll begin by dividing your warp into 3 equal sections, 12 warp threads each. You’ll be using 3 colors, a butterfly for each color. I’m starting from the right. All your butterflies will travel in the same direction, right to left on the first pass.

Insert the butterfly into the shed, leaving a tail that you will weave back into the shed on the next pass. Insert the other 2 butterflies in the same fashion. Bubble! Change sheds and beat. Now return each butterfly to where you started, bubble and beat. Slit tapestry makes a nice, clean line, is faster to weave than interlock. The down side is that very long slits will either need to be sewn later or woven together with a fine yarn every so often to stabilize the area.

Watch the video below and then follow the steps in each image.

Weft Interlock

Weft interlock is a good technique to use if you are going to be weaving a vertical line when a slit isn’t desirable, such as if you’re weaving a border, a rug, or need more stability. Instead of a clean, vertical line like you have with slit tapestry, weft interlock makes a serrated join.

Here, I’m weaving weft interlock in the same direction. Because you will be interlocking each join, it is necessary to weave an entire row, rather than a section at a time like you might do in weaving slit tapestry. I’m using an even number of warps, in this case 12 per section. You will be making an interlock every other row. I’m working from the front, but you may find that you get a cleaner join by working from the back.

Insert three butterflies from right to left. Use your slit tapestry line as a guide, and bring the butterflies out of the shed at this point. Change sheds and beat. On the next pass, left to right, you’ll do the interlock. Starting at the left, pass the first butterfly through. Bring it out of the shed. Then, take the next butterfly and pass it around the first weft and then into the shed, pulling against the up warp. Bring this end out at the next join and wrap the third weft around this one and into the shed. Bubble as you go. Change yarns and beat. Practice this until it feels like you’ve got it.

TIP: I’m using a dark piece of craft foam (you could use stiff paper, too) behind my weaving to hide the warp threads that are visible on a continuous warp like what is used on the Arras. It helps me focus on the area I’m working on and also is a nice contrast to my white warp yarns.

Weaving a Shape

Let’s start learning how to weave a shape. For this example, I’m going to weave a triangle and the wefts will be traveling in opposite directions. I’m going to use slit tapestry technique. A few things to keep in mind:

  • When weaving a shape, you need to work the decreasing shape first.
  • The diagonal line will be stepped—more stepped with a wide sett of 6 epi than, for example, than with a finer sett of 12 epi. (Something to keep in mind when weaving future projects.)
  • If you want the top of the triangle to come to a point, you’ll need a single warp end at the top. Therefore, you’ll need to start with an uneven number of warp threads for your triangle.
  • I have an even number of warp threads (36), and I want a single warp end at the top of my triangle. I set up my triangle with one extra background warp thread on the right side. This means that my triangle won’t be absolutely in the center of my weaving. Again, more obvious with a wider sett.
  • Placing a yarn marker at the edge of the triangle is helpful when you start weaving.
  • The fewer repeats of each section, will decrease the pitch of the diagonal line. It will make a squattier triangle.
  • If you want to weave a specific triangle shape, mark the warp with a washable magic marker and follow the lines as you weave.

I wove 3 repeats of each section, or 6 rows. I deceased by one warp thread on each side of the triangle after each 6 rows. After 2 decreases, I decided to shade the triangle, as we did in last week’s lesson (adding and subtracting colors), changing colors at each decrease. If weaving the triangle is enough challenge, just weave it in a single color.

In the beginning, when I was weaving the background edges, I didn’t change sheds before pressing the weft into place with my fingers. I realized later that this affected my selvedges. Changing the shed before beating helped the puffiness at the selvedges.

To help keep track of what I was doing, I first wove a section of the triangle and then filled in the outsides, always weaving section by section.


Tip: It is helpful to use a tapestry needle to separate the ends to spread them out for starting another color which will be added in the same fashion.

When I reached the top and had just a single warp end left, I simply wrapped the yarn around the warp. I found I needed to add a couple of extra wraps. To secure the end, I made a half hitch and pushed the weft end to the back of the weaving.

Now, we are really weaving tapestry! I hope you’ll have as much fun as I’ve had with this week’s lesson. Feel free to experiment. How would you weave a diamond? (Hint: always weave the descending areas first. It will help to mark your warp or draw a picture to help visualize where to begin weaving.)

Up next week is eccentric weaving, hatching, and soumak. This is a bit of a schedule change since you already started with an elemental shape this week. I’m also moving soumak ahead a week because I think you’ll enjoy using it in combination with eccentric weaving.

Have a great weaving week and see you next week!


American Tapestry Alliance (ATA)

The American Tapestry Alliance is an organization supporting a wide range of educational, exhibition, outreach, and promotional programs. It supports individual artists and their work, encourages excellence in tapestry weaving, as well as educational opportunities, exhibition sponsorships. It fosters a worldwide network of tapestry weavers and offers education about the craft and history of tapestry weaving. Their monthly newsletter always inspires.

To help support this organization, Schacht has teamed up with the ATA to offer a 20% discount on the purchase of the Arras tapestry loom to members, including new members of the ATA.

To learn more: