Weaving Tapestry – Bringing Stories and Images to Life

Historically, tapestry workshops produced large images using multiple weavers working simultaneously; today artists can exercise full creative control.

Frances Crowe skillfully constructs narratives about important battles, while Fiona Hutchison employs unexpected materials (such as an old tractor part ) into her writings and Wendy Carpenter is adept at weaving objects into her stories to enhance them.

How to weave a tapestry

Tapestry weaving may appear daunting at first, requiring extensive equipment and expertise, yet there are simple tapestry weaving projects you can accomplish with basic tools. In this blog post we’ll take a closer look at how tapestry weaving works as well as provide tips for getting started with this beautiful hobby.

Tapestry is a form of weft-faced weaving in which pictorial designs are woven by using weft threads, completely concealing warp threads from view. The end product can range from abstract designs to depictions of real scenes. Tapestry projects can be an expressive form of artistic expression and storytelling through yarn. There are various techniques used in weaving tapestry; this blog post presents five artists who employ various approaches in their craft. Frances Crowe crafts tapestries of crucial battles, while Fiona Hutchison incorporates plastic and other unexpected materials into her work, Wendy Carpenter incorporates surprising found objects into her pieces, Jeni Ross weaves modern abstract designs with vibrant colours and shapes, and Molly Elkind scales tapestry down for easier handling.

One of the best ways to start tapestry weaving is by purchasing a portable loom. You’ll find these at local weaving stores or online, making them great for taking with you wherever life may take you – be it at a soccer game for your children or climbing mountains! These portable looms allow you to weave anywhere!

Selecting suitable yarns for your project is key when learning how to weave tapestry. They must hold their shape while withstanding wear and tear – this is particularly important if your plan involves hanging your work on the wall. Also take into consideration its weight when hanging it as this could damage walls if heavy tapestries are hung from them.

Your yarn choice depends entirely on your personal aesthetic; use multiple shades of a similar hue to add depth and dimension, or mix in white and black to achieve lighter or darker values that help your work stand out against its surroundings.


Tapestry weavers use various materials in their creation process. This may include yarns (both natural and synthetic), tapestry needles, box looms and supplies such as tapestry tool kits to produce their work. A good tapestry tool kit should contain various weaving tools like heddle hooks, warping bars and shed sticks that help prepare the loom for weaving and thread the weft for design creation.

A great tapestry heddle hook will be strong with a large grip to securely grasp warp threads, as well as an easily operated small handle to make use easier. A warping bar keeps warp threads taut while making weaving simpler for weavers. A shed stick provides another invaluable tapestry weaving tool allowing weavers to lift both sets of warp threads at the same time without needing to move their heddle hooks around to do so.

Many new tapestry weavers struggle with what’s known as pulling-in. This occurs when weft bunches up in one part of their tapestry, creating an unsightly image. To prevent this problem, proper sett and weaving techniques should be utilized.

Past tapestries were generally created using cartoons drawn or painted onto paper, then weavers would recreate these drawings or paintings on their looms using careful attention to following the cartoon and selecting yarns appropriate to it. This process could take months.

Modern tapestry weavers tend to weave from the front, and are encouraged to be more experimental with their designs. They may opt to weave one single shape at a time instead of following an exact line from their cartoon designs.

Tapestry weavers often incorporate unconventional and unexpected materials in their works of textile art, like Frances Crowe who weaves tapestries that depict significant battles and Wendy Carpenter who embeds unexpected found objects like an old tractor part into her textile art works.

Warping the loom

At the core of tapestry weaving is warping your loom. This involves threading yarn through each shed stick on your loom and tying it off at one of the lease sticks; this helps prevent weft slipperiness when weaving and ensures an even tension across your warp. A quality weft yarn should not be too lofty or stretchy when warping your warp properly.

Dependent upon the design of your tapestry, you may require different weaving techniques to complete it. One such weaving technique is using rya knots – series of knots that resemble diamonds or chevrons that create textural lines in your work and add visual interest and texture. They’re an effective way of adding dimension to a DIY wall hanging!

Another fantastic technique to try is the Soumak knot. This easy weaving pattern produces a bumpy texture similar to chain stitch embroidery – creating depth and texture in your tapestry, especially when used with thicker yarn like wool roving.

To create a Soumak knot, thread your needle with approximately three inches of worsted weight yarn and bring it between the first and second warp threads on your left-side loom. Leave about four inches of yarn tail before wrapping it around both warp threads as well as the top weft. Continue this process throughout a row before cutting any extra yarn.

Tapestry weaving used to be predominantly male-dominated art form; however, that has changed considerably in the 21st century with computer-assisted weaving becoming more accessible and young artists beginning to question traditional views that tapestry weaving was tedious work. Thus weaving workshops have had to shift their approach in order to remain relevant in today’s market.

Few weaving workshops still operate the way described, but modern weaving workshops produce more distinctive, modern images that could fit right in with every painting. This trend could partly be explained by weaving becoming a major available to university-educated students.


Weft threads are then interwoven through and out of warps to form patterns or images, with careful selection of yarn colors that correspond with original artworks or cartoons they are working from. Tapestry weavers typically employ wool as they prefer its texture over cotton and silk yarns – as well as metallic yarns for greater effect.

As tapestry is weft-faced, its weft yarn must encase every warp thread to form an even and dense fabric; weavers typically opt for stiff and strong non-elastic yarn with minimal bounce for this process – giving the finished tapestry its unique moniker: drawn-thread tapestry.

Tapestry weavers typically start their weaving work from a cartoon, which is an outline drawing depicting their image to be created into tapestries. Working from this cartoon allows weavers to translate every detail accurately onto their textile works.

Making tapestries from cartoon images is no simple task; it requires time, patience and skill. But the rewards can be immense; particularly if you have put forth effort into giving life to your own interpretation of a cartoon!

Contemporary tapestry weavers continue to challenge and redefine the process of tapestry weaving, while playing with form, using new materials, and employing various styles of weaving to produce truly original works such as Fiona Rutherford’s kimono-shaped piece.

One of the most fascinating tapestry techniques, known as inlay, involves weaving an extra thin weft into each pick and creating intricate details by drawing or carving away parts of their weaving to reveal more detailed pictures. By experimenting with inlay techniques weavers can achieve different effects ranging from subtle and delicate to bold and flamboyant effects.

No matter if it’s geometric designs like “Geometry Man” or abstract or figurative tapestries that you are weaving, this free eBook features various weaving patterns and tips to help create stunning wall hangings of any style or subject matter. There is also plenty of inspirations included.

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