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Weaving a hem

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Well I warped up again, and like every other time I’ve warped up my Mirrix I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  It’s quite a phenomena, haha!  This time I’m using wool warp which I love.  It’s quite springy compared to linen or cotton which makes it is easier on my hands in general.

Today I thought I’d share a weaving prep tip.  So, we’re talking hems. Unless you are planning on sporting an exposed warp on your finished piece (like this one by Maryanne Moodie), a weaver often includes a bottom hem.  There are a couple of reasons why you would create a hem, the obvious being for easy finishing, ie. you can easily fold and sew your top and bottom hem behind your finished piece (as opposed to hiding part of your actual woven design).  The not so obvious function of a hem is to establish good tension.  I learned that when weaving a bottom hem one should weave it in sections using the stepping technique, creating parallelograms along your hem.  This involves decreasing on one side of your shape (by one warp thread every two passes) and increasing in the same manner on the other (except for the shapes that are at each edge of your weaving which of course only decrease/increase on one side).  Because, according to my former tapestry weaving instructor Anthea Mallinson, their are multiple turn around points in a tapestry (at each color) it is important, for tensions’ sake, to include such points in the selvedge too.  It’s also just more practical to weave in small sections, since a weaver’s hands can only do so much between two sheds, especially when the weaver is not using a shedding device.  Anthea says that this practice is especially common for larger pieces which, don’t forget are sometimes (especially historically) woven by multiple people – which makes the practicality of it all the more obvious.  Below I’ve included a picture with the shaped sections outlined to illustrate the parallelograms.


Above is my current project which measures 10 inches across.  The hem is woven in three (no so even) parts.  For this picture I left part of the last third unwoven to help illustrate how it’s done separately.

Janna Maria Vallee

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