Thursday, November 19, 2009

tapestry finishing process

The large tapestry has been in stages of completion since I cut it off the loom on October 30.  It would be so nice to really have the tapestry "done" when the warp is snipped.  But that's not the case!  Although the finishing steps take a relatively short time compared to the actual weaving they are still time consuming.  I find them to be a boring, sometimes painful, yet very necessary part of the process.

So here's what I've done to complete this particular tapestry.

1.  Before beginning the piece I made a decision about how I would finish the tapestry without hems.  I was going to use a very thin light color border around the whole piece--so I reasoned that I could let the warp show a tiny bit at the edge.  This would eliminate the bulk of a hem for the 6 epi sett with a 3-fold weft.   I knew I'd either use half-Damascus edge to secure the warp ends and tuck to the reverse at the same time, or that I would "hide and snip" the warp ends.  That's my term for what happens when alternate warps are threaded up along the channel of an adjacent warp.  The warp that is secured within the weaving creates a loop at the move over; the warp it goes up along is then snipped off flush at the edge of the weaving.

Once finished I choose half-Damascus for the warps.  This is much easier on my hands.  After working across the edge I stitch groups of warps to the surface with a sewing thread looped around a small group.  I find using a curved needle for this step works well.  I then cut off the warps to about 3" long.

2.  I cover the warp ends with a binding tape.  Here I've used cotton twill tape that I bought from Near Sea Naturals.  I basted the twill tape in place then stitched at each side, again using the curved needle.

3.  I wanted to hang the piece using a velcro covered webbing that will attach to a velcro covered wooden bar.  Because the tapestry is heavy (weighs in at 5 1/2 lbs.) I wanted a tape that was heavier than the twill tape used to cover the bottom.  I did some searching online for the kind of webbing that's used in upholstery--the jute or cotton webbing.  I found several sources but couldn't locate any in a store within an hour+ drive (plus, I've been fighting a massive sinus melt-down and didn't want to be driving around all over Atlanta to search out this elusive webbing).

I stewed over this problem overnight after finishing the lower area with the thinner twill tape.  Next morning it occurred to me that I could WEAVE my own webbing!  So that's what I did.  I used 12/6 cotton seine twine for the warp, sett at 20 epi (with both selvedges doubled for two warps at each side).  For weft I used the 12/18 warp remains from the tapestry.  Since it was only 64 warp ends, warping and threading was a breeze.  I had it warped, threaded, woven and washed in a day's time.  

Next morning, I pressed the newly created tape, snipped off the weft ends, and stitched on the velcro.

4.  Then came one of the more painful parts of the process (although any needle use is fairly challenging for me)... that of stitching on the velcro covered webbing to the tapestry.

I have a little trouble typing this because of the tiny cuts from needle pricks still in my fingers... I only bled twice, though, which is pretty good for me.  This webbing I wove is indeed sturdy and I was catching warp ends ever so often to help with the weight distribution.  

5.  Last, I covered the wooden bar with the hook side of the velcro.  I first sanded the bar then applied the velcro, an industrial strength adhesive velcro.  I attached eye screws to the top of the bar for hanging. Here I'm using an awl as a turning tool with the eye screw.

The tapestry is hanging now for photographing.  It was shot last night but still need to have more done with a different camera, one capable of recording the detail I want.  

New tapestry?  Nothing large is in the works yet but I have a small piece that's on my Hagen loom that will be used for a demonstration in a few weeks.  I want to have it to an interesting place for that event so that's what I'll be concentrating on for the next few days.

Ideas for the next large piece are bubbling around though... incubation time.


  1. Thanks for posting the steps in your process - I always like to be able to find these later when I get to the finishing point! Always the educator! I look forward to the final pictures and the next project!

  2. A lot of work indeed! I love that you wove your own strap!