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Tapestry Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom, Part 3: Finishing your Piece

Posted by Sarah Buchanan on

Using Handspun Yarn to Create a Masterpiece

Part 3: Finishing your Piece

      This is the final installment of a three part series -- check out Part 1: Materials and Tools and Part 2: Spinning and Weaving if you missed it!

      Now that you’ve created your masterpiece, finishing the tapestry is the last step! I think having a clean back is important, especially if you want the warp threads to stay put for a long time. I also want to make sure the stick/dowel I’m hanging the tapestry from doesn’t pull out.

      This post will show you how to do all the things with lots of photos to illustrate.  I use many tips from Rachel’s classWeave Your First Woven Wall Hanging” on Skillshare, plus extra measures to keep the stick/dowel from slipping out. If you don’t have a Skillshare account, you can follow this link to get 2 free months.

Remove the tapestry from the loom. This part is always scary for some reason. Nothing that unheard of is happening, simply cut the warp threads that are attached to the rigid heddle at the top and bottom. Make sure to leave 4-5” of yarn so you can tie them together. I cut and tied the top first since it was more accessible.

      Next, disengage the brake on the front of the rigid heddle and unwind the tapestry. Cut the bottom warp threads, also leaving 4-5” of space. Before you tie the yarn together, remove the header you wove in initially. Mine is a piece of roving, so I removed that before tying the warp threads together.

Remove the roving, yarn, or whatever you used as a headerRemove the header, in this case I used roving.

Tip: Once the tapestry (or any weaving) has been cut off the loom, secure the weft right away by tying, hemstitching, or sewing. Otherwise, the weft will start to work its way up and away from the body of the weaving, creating gaps.

Clean up the back. This isn't much fun, but so worth it in the end! I had a lot of color changes in the sky to get the light to dark blue fade, which means I had a lot of ends to weave in. With the thinner, aran weight yarn, I used a tapestry needle to pull the thread through 2-3 “bumps” along the back. Make sure to check that you’re not pulling the weft to create gaps in the front. 

Image showing a tapestry needle pulling weft through bumps in the back of a tapestryHow I wove in most of my ends, besides the bulky ones.

      For the bulky weight yarn, I generally tied them with a neighboring piece of yarn. They created too much disturbance on the front of the tapestry otherwise. Trim all excess pieces of yarn sticking out.

      Next, I finished the tied warp ends. For the bottom, I simply pulled them through 2-3 “bumps” like I did with the other weft ends. For the top, I pulled them through and then tied them to each other. This was to ensure they didn’t manage to work themselves out over time. I didn’t tie the top warp ends together until after I attached my stick. I did it in this order so I could pull the warp down tighter and hide the knots better.

Image showing warp ends being tied and woven in at the back of a tapestryAfter the warp ends were tucked in on the bottom, I trimmed them. I tied the top warp ends together an additional time after threading through the "bumps."

Attach the stick or dowel for hanging. I went for a more natural look with this tapestry, so I wanted to finish it off with a stick instead of a dowel, which would give it a more polished look. Once you’ve figured out what style you’re going for, attach the tapestry to the stick/dowel using more yarn.

      I wanted to tie in the yarn I used for the rya knots, so I used that, and wrapped it around the stick and through the spot where the warp threads are tied together. I wrapped the yarn around every other knotted warp bundle, tied it off at the end, then tucked the warp ends behind the tapestry through the “bumps.”

Image showing the final steps in tying off the top warp ends by tucking them in and tying againAfter I added the yarn to hold the tapestry to the stick, I tied the warp ends together an additional time to make them extra secure.

      One more piece of yarn is then used to hang the stick to the wall and you’re done! Since this was a gift, I wanted my name somewhere on the tapestry and had custom cherry tags made from Artifox on Etsy. They turned out really nice and it adds a professional touch to the artwork.

 

I hope you found this tutorial series helpful and it inspires you to try out tapestry weaving!


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