Tapestry Pillow

The time has come to finally do something with the tapestries I wove from the DVDs.  I have four of them, and I initially decided to make pillows with them.  I have one 14 inch firm pillow form, so I have everything I need to get one together.  Instead of sewing a backing to each one with fabric, I decided to use two tapestries for each pillow.  This way they’re reversible, even though they all contain the same colors – more or less.  I recently discovered a neat way to weave a decorative tubular band, seam two pieces of fabric together, and apply the band to the project hiding the raw edge – all at the same time.  I discovered this on Laverne Waddington’s blog.  She has a great tutorial for this process.  I charted a simple pattern for the band that contains three of the colors I used in the tapestries.  

Weave tubular band, seam, & apply - 1 step
Weave tubular band, seam, & apply – 1 step

The pattern for the band is simple and straight forward.  I’ve decided to use the small heddle that I just received from Poland to create my sheds.  The pattern is created by the way it’s warped, and no further manipulation is required other than to change from one shed to the other.  This leaves my mind and hands free to other tasks, like sewing, and holding everything under correct tension.  I created a warp with nearly an extra yard just in case I had some “start overs”.  I knew that the very beginning of this would be fiddly and tricky – I was right.  The task of holding the tapestries in place, holding the band tensioned, piercing the fabric in the correct place, passing the weft, changing the sheds, beating properly requires practice.  When I wasn’t happy with my beginning results, I would cut my weft, pick it out, and start over.  After I had a good 6 inches completed I decided that I didn’t care for the way the band changed the hand of the tapestry.  It left the edge too firm and bulky.  I think this technique would be better suited to seaming something warp-faced like the backstrap woven pieces I saw them used on.  The tapestries are heavy, and it’s difficult to hold them up and straight and weave a third piece over them like this.  I will try this technique on something different – something smaller.  I cut my weft and picked it out, I’ll weave this band flat and find a different purpose for it.

End seams with purl cotton
End seams with purl cotton

I’m left with completing these seams in the normal manner – with a needle and thread.  I tried several different combinations of stitches and threads, rejecting and picking out until I found the best way.  There are two types of sides to these tapestries.  The selvages on each side, which has the warps traveling parallel and the weft running at a right angle, and the ends which have a hem and the weft traveling parallel with the warp at a right angle.  I used Upholstery thread, of course I had only white, but it peeks out only a few times here and there.  I used black purl cotton on the ends as the hems are both black.  I used a mattress stitch, or something closely akin to the mattress stitch.  On the ends with the hem, I passed the needle under several warps on one piece then under several warps on the joining piece.  The needle’s path continued to travel forward, rather than back and forth.  I found that a back and forth path caused puckering, and a diagonal path caused the pieces to shift out of alignment.  On the selvages the needle traveled through the wefts in the same manner as it traveled through the warps on the ends.  I added a step to the stitch on the selvages because I wanted to include the side warp in this seam.  In this modified stitch, the needle passed through the last weft turns, then around the warp, into the joining fabric – going around its warp, brought to the inside of the seam and passing through a few weft turns.  

Finished pillow side A
Finished pillow side A

One tapestry was a tad longer than the other, but they have an equal width.  To ease the longer piece to the shorter, I took a diagonal stitch every now and then.  This would grab more cloth on one piece than the other – It’s not perfect, but It smoothed out well.  A few things I learned from this project is not to leave two projects joined – not unless they butt against each other and nothing needs to be folded back, or they can easily be separated.  A zipper would have been a nice addition, but luckily each side has its own length of thread, so I can pick out the seam on one side without compromising the other seams.  Weave a longer hem!!! The double warp I used on each side was a good idea (thank you, Nancy Harvey), it makes a strong base to have in a seam.  Don’t end a weft at the selvage – I’ve heard this from others, but I had to learn it myself.  The Navajo method for ending wefts in the shed is useful when there will be any padding on the back of the weaving.  Any bulk on the back of the weaving can easily show through when you have a pillow form pressing against it – even just the weft tails.  Now I have a narrow band to weave, there could be worse things.

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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