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Beginners Guide to Sectional Weaving

Sectional Weaving Guide Header

When two different threads or yarns are entwined at right angles in order to form a cloth or fabric, it is known as weaving. Other methods include plaiting or braiding, felting, lace making, and knitting. Lateral threads are filling or weft and longitudinal threads are referred to as the warp. How these threads are entwined affects the cloth's characteristics. A loom, a device used to hold warp threads while other threads are woven through them, is usually the tool of choice for cloth; however fabric band weaving can be done using methods such as back-strap, tablet weaving, and other techniques without the use of a loom. How the filling and warp threads interlace is known as the weave. Almost all woven products use one of the three basic weaves: twill, satin weave, or plain weave. Woven cloth may be simple patterns or in one color, or it can be woven into artistic or decorative designs.

History

Prehistoric Weaving Illustrations

It has been indicated that weaving was known as far back as the Paleolithic era. An impression of an indistinct textile was found in Moravia. A fragment from Neolithic textiles is dated to around 5000 BCE. The fragment is a plain weave at about 9 threads by 12 threads per centimeter. The predominant fiber in Egypt was flax but other cultures would eventually use wool as the primary fiber for woven items. Looms from earlier times typically required the work of two people. One would pass through the filling while the other created the shed. This loom wove fixed lengths of cloth but later looms allowed for warp to be wound out. Once the warp was sized, weaving became much easier.

  • Events in Weaving History – Introduced by Irish immigrants, some forms of weaving date back to 25,000 B.C.
  • History of Textiles (PDF) – Fibers used by Egyptians, for covers inside their tents, were woven and plaited.
  • Weaving History (PDF) – Archeologists believe that weaving and basket-making were likely the very first crafts developed by humans and evolved in the pursuit of certain basic needs such as clothing, shelter, and food.
  • Colonial Williamsburg – Here you can read about weaving, spinning, and dyeing history in Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Weaving and Dyeing in Early New York (PDF) – Early colonists brought weaving to the New World.

Process and Terminology

The weaving process involves the use of a loom to entwine two different threads: the warp, and the weft. A pick is what one weft thread is called and an end is what one warp thread is called. There are many types of looms but in general, weaving is a repetition of shedding, picking, and battening. A loom consists of a frame, a weaver's beam, an apron bar, heddles, and the reed. Weaving is a complex process and fantastic art. Visit the following links to learn more about the weaving process and the terminology associated with it.

  • Images of the Maya – Starting with raw cotton or wool that has to first be washed and combed prior to spinning, a weaver stretches long threads against a special board to a certain length. They are then attached to a loom and the process of weaving begins.
  • The Process of Weaving – Weaving can be similar to painting using yarn as you work with fabric and color at the same time. With technique, structure, texture, and fiber, motions bind the weaving process.
  • Traditional Mapuche Weaving Process – Washing, drying, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving wool is all a part of the Mapuche weaving process.
  • Mills Glossary – This glossary provides definitions on various terms as they related to weaving including terms such as mule spinning, draper looms, and the weaver's knot.
  • Weaving Glossary – This is a brief glossary or weaving terms.

Types of Weaving

There are three types of weaving. Twill is a textile weave type that has a diagonal pattern of parallel ribs. The weft thread is passed over at least one warp thread and then under at least two warp threads. This continues with an offset between the rows in order to create the diagonal pattern. Twill fabric includes drill, chino, serge, tweed, gabardine, and chino. Satin weave has a silky appearance. The term "satin" describes the way in which threads are combined. The yarn used is often polyester or silk. Plain weave produces strong fabrics at a low cost. The following resources will provide more in depth information about the various types of weaving and fabrics used.

  • Plain Weave – Plain weave refers to the highest number of interlacings which produce strong fabrics at a cheap cost.
  • Fabric Identification (PDF) – This provides a list of various different fabric types and what they are typically used for.
  • Satin Weave (PDF) – Satin has a high sheen. The fabric's surface is not broken up by interlacings.
  • Twill Weave – This weave produces strong fabrics, however, color tends to get lost.

Weaving Organizations and Publications

For anyone wanting to learn more about weaving, there is a vast amount of information online. There are various publications and organizations dedicated to weaving which can be found by visiting the following links:

  • WARP – Weave A Real Peace works to improve textile artisan's and weaver's lives in communities that are in need. Here you can find networking opportunities and information for anyone who values the artistic, historic, cultural, and social importance of various textiles around the globe.
  • Complex Weavers – This is a group for more advanced weavers who are focused on more complex weaving structures.
  • HGA – Handweavers Guild of America provides various resources and is among the largest of weaving organizations in North America.
  • Weaver's Craft – This is a quarterly publication that features design projects that emphasize creative expression in design and color.

Additional Information

Cambodian Woman on Homemade Loom

The following resources will provide additional weaving information from buying your first loom to fun weaving projects for children:

  • Images of the Maya – Starting with raw cotton or wool that has to first be washed and combed prior to spinning, a weaver stretches long threads against a special board to a certain length. They are then attached to a loom and the process of weaving begins.
  • The Process of Weaving – Weaving can be similar to painting using yarn as you work with fabric and color at the same time. With technique, structure, texture, and fiber, motions bind the weaving process.
  • Traditional Mapuche Weaving Process – Washing, drying, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving wool is all a part of the Mapuche weaving process.
  • Mills Glossary – This glossary provides definitions on various terms as they related to weaving including terms such as mule spinning, draper looms, and the weaver's knot.
  • Weaving Glossary – This is a brief glossary or weaving terms.
  • Images of the Maya – Starting with raw cotton or wool that has to first be washed and combed prior to spinning, a weaver stretches long threads against a special board to a certain length. They are then attached to a loom and the process of weaving begins.
  • The Process of Weaving – Weaving can be similar to painting using yarn as you work with fabric and color at the same time. With technique, structure, texture, and fiber, motions bind the weaving process.
  • Traditional Mapuche Weaving Process – Washing, drying, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving wool is all a part of the Mapuche weaving process.
  • Mills Glossary – This glossary provides definitions on various terms as they related to weaving including terms such as mule spinning, draper looms, and the weaver's knot.
  • Weaving Glossary – This is a brief glossary or weaving terms.


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