Weaving Class: The Basics

Easy Weaving Tutorial

If you learn one new medium this summer, let it be how to weave. It's one of those centuries old traditions that is both practical (in certain forms) and beautiful and can be sort of soothing to the soul. Wall hangings are a great way to cut your teeth on weaving and add instant charm to your space. This tutorial is a simple wall hanging with a few different elements you'll need to make your own interesting piece. It's the first part in a series I've developed with Elsie and Emma to share what I've learned through trial and error in my own experiments with weaving. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in.

Copper Top

I decided late one afternoon in 2013 that I wanted to teach myself how to weave. I didn't want to spend much money on a loom or even wait a few days for one to arrive at my doorstep, so I just found an old drawer from a dresser I had stashed in the garage, flipped it over, and nailed about 20 nails across the top and bottom. It was makeshift and a bit wonky, but it did its job, and I ended up with my first wall hanging. I was hooked.

Soon after, I made a weaving that I turned into a clutch, and even took on the monster project of weaving my own 4' x 6' rug from strips of fabric. This year I've woven and sold my first collection of wall hangings, given an aluminum chair a woven makeover, and taught my first class at a sponsored event to a group of lovely ladies in Denver. So, let this be a warning to you. If you finish your first one, you may or may not be able to stop there.

Simple Weaving TutorialTools for Weaving

My first loom was the lap loom shown above. It's definitely a starter loom and was great until one of the pegs snapped off. You can always learn on a makeshift frame or wide piece of wood with nails across the top and bottom (see below) or even a sturdy piece of cardboard. Once you decide weaving is officially your thing, you'll likely want to upgrade to a larger, more durable loom. While there is a wide range in pricing on handmade looms, most of them are going to be worth the investment. 

Supplies:

-Loom. My Lap Loom Model A was purchased through the Met, but you can sometimes find them on Amazon a bit cheaper. The Ashford Frame Loom is a great price point for beginners but a quick Etsy search will give you the latest and greatest from a variety of small business owners such as Oake and Ashe and Roving Textiles. When you're ready for something more substantial, check out Meghan Bogden Shimek or Funem Studio (Belgium) for beautiful looms. 

-Cotton yarn for the warp. The warp is the foundation of your weaving and goes up and down across the pegs of your loom.

-Yarn for your weft. This can be any size, thickness, or color you prefer. All of mine was purchased at Jo-Ann, as they had the best selection of large craft stores, but if you have a local yarn shop in your area, I suggest checking them out for special colors and natural fibers.

-Wooden dowel rod, copper pipe, stick, etc. Something sturdy and wider than your weaving by 1" – 2".

-Tapestry needle. This will be about 3" long with a large eye and a blunt end.

-Shuttle. Mine came with my loom and is shown above with the U-shaped ends. This is for wrapping your weft yarn around and sliding through the opening that is made when your shed stick is raised. I tend to not use mine and just stick with using my needle.

-Shed Stick. This is the wooden object to the right of the shuttle above. It looks like a paint stirrer. This is woven through your warp and left there to help save time when you're moving your shuttle through to create a new row. Some use two sheds, but I find it most efficient to leave only one in on this type of loom.

-Scissors

Make Your Own LoomIf you're going to make your own loom from a piece of wood or a frame, use a ruler and mark every 1/2" across the top and bottom or as wide as you'd like it. I suggest only making it about 8" – 10" tall for your first. Mine was made in a hurry, so it ended up being slightly crooked, but it still got the job done. If you're using cardboard, just cut a piece the size you'd like and tape one end of your warp yarn to the back near the top left corner and wrap it around every 1/3" or so, and tape the other end on the back near the bottom right corner. You'll just use the warp on the front of the cardboard.

Yarn SelectionGather your yarn. I love mixing textures, so I tend to use at least three different textures in my wall hangings. Chunky yarns make for quicker work as they take up more space than smaller yarns, so keep that in mind when you're making your selection. I gravitate towards tonal colors with lots of white, so I have used two pinks and two greens along with two textures of white. One of the biggest factors in any new project looking great is a great selection of colors. Scan Pinterest for color pairings that catch your eye, and maybe even make a folder to reference when you're ready to start a new weaving.

Warp It UpStep One: Create your warp. First make a loop knot at the end of your warp yarn, and fasten in to the top left peg. Then wrap it down to the bottom left peg and back up again. 

Step Two: Continue on to make it as wide as you'd like, and finish with another loop knot. This will allow you to add a tassel to that last peg. You don't want your warp to be too loose or too tight. As your warp fills with weaving, it will become more taut, so keep that in mind. Gently pressing down should even out any uneven sections.

Tassels 1Step Three: To create your tassels at the bottom of your weaving, cut a length of yarn and fold it in half and then in half again. I suggest between 15" – 20", and you can always trim it up when you're done. 

Step Four: You'll make one of these per peg at the bottom, and slip the center of your folded fringe over the first warp string and under the second and then back to the top.

Tassels 2Step Five: Fold the long ends through the center as shown. 

Step Six: Pull gently so that the knot tightens.

Tassels 3Step Seven: Pull your tassel all the way to the bottom of the peg so it rests underneath. Repeat with the rest of the pegs, and then trim the bottoms to make an even or angular bottom.

Step Eight: Do the same for your last peg by going through the loop knot and finishing it up.

Start Your Weave 1Step Nine: Thread your tapestry needle with about 4' of yarn for your first layer of color. I always like to start about three warp strands in so that my tails don't stick out on the sides. To do this, skip the first three warp strands, and then go under the fourth and over the fifth and under the sixth, etc.

Step Ten: Repeat over and under until you get to the other side. For the sake of consistency, treat that last loop knot as a single warp strand.

ShuttleThis is when your shed can cut your weaving time in half. I wove my shed stick over and under and over and under all the way across and left it there, so that every time I need to weave from the right to the left I can stand it up and easily pull the needle through. If you're using a shuttle (the stick with the U-shaped ends above), then you'd wrap your yarn around that instead of using a needle, and then you'd slide it through that space created when you stand your shed up. Scoot your shed up as you add weaving so that it's always about 4" above your last row. Once you get to the top, you may have to ditch it, as there won't be much room.

Start Your Weave 2Step Eleven: When you're pulling your yarn through, pull up to the opposite corner, and then gently push the yarn down so that it rests snugly on top of the previous row. Some use a fork for this step, but I find my own hands to be just as effective with these thicker yarns. If you start with smaller yarn, you'll want to try using a fork and see what you think.

Step Twelve: Keep going over and under the opposite of the row before until you reach the side where you started. If you end on an under, then wrap it over and continue. If you pull your yarn out on a row, it's usually because you didn't wrap around the outer strand. 

Start Your Weave 3Step Thirteen: When you get to the end of the yarn or would like to switch colors, end on an under, and keep the 3" – 4" tail tucked in the back. Be sure to leave about that much so that you can stitch it under and hide it on the backside.

Step Fourteen: To continue the same color or add another color, stick the tail of the new cut of yarn under, and leave a 3" – 4" tail. It should go under so that it looks like it's picking up where the last piece of yarn left off. 

Start Your Weave 4Step Fifteen: Continue on to the next row, and gently press it down from the center out to each side to keep enough slack, not to turn into an hourglass shape! 

Step Sixteen: Add another layer or two, but finish on the end this time.

Rya Knots 1Step Seventeen: Time to learn a rya knot. I cut three strands of yarn in a contrasting color that measured about 15" across. 

Step Eighteen: I chose two warp strands a little bit in from the edge and wove my three green pieces through them both.

Rya Knots 2Step Nineteen: Then I stuck my finger and thumb between those two warp strands, grabbed the green yarn, and pulled up about 2".

Step Twenty: Next I grabbed the loose ends and pulled them down through the raised strands.

Rya Knots 3Step Twenty-One: Finally I pulled down gently and adjusted the knot. 

Step Twenty-Two: I counted strands so that I got three rya knots on the left and three on the right. Once I was done, I gave them a trim.

Next Step After Rya KnotsStep Twenty-Three: Now it's back to weaving with the yarn we set aside. I wrapped it around the edge one extra time to help fill in the blanks from the space the rya knots were taking up. Then I continued under the warp strands that held my rya knots and picked back up for over and under in the center and then went behind all the rya knot strands. This filled in the space between the two sets of rya knots.

Next Step After Rya Knots 2Step Twenty-Four: You can see where I went back under the rest of the warp strands that held the rya knots before coming back up on the other side. I only really needed one row like this.

Step Twenty-Five: I then continued back the other way, going over and under all the way across.

Second Layer Rya KnotStep Twenty-Six: I added a few more rows of that white yarn and decided I wanted another layer of a rya knot, so I cut about six strands of chunky peach yarn measuring about 15" long each.

Step Twenty-Seven: I found the center of my warp and used the same method to make another rya knot. I kept my strands longer than the green ones, but shorter than the white tassels, to create layers and keep the eye moving.

Soumak to the LeftStep Twenty-Eight: After adding another section of peach with the basic over and under weaving technique, I decided to start a soumak stitch. This can create a braided effect and add some stronger texture to your piece. This time I did start from the edge and came up from under the outer warp strand and then wrapped back around it and came back up after the second warp strand. I made sure to leave a 4" tail to tuck in later. 

Step Twenty-Nine: I wrapped back to the left and then came up after the third warp strand.The trick is to go forward two strands and then back one strand each time. 

Soumak to the Left 2Step Thirty: Again I went back to the left and then came back up after the fourth warp strand.

Step Thirty-One: I finished until I got to the end. You can see how the pattern is different from the basic over and under.

Switch Soumak to the RightStep Thirty-Two: To go back the other direction, you have to wrap around the outer warp strand once and then twice before coming back up after the second warp strand. 

Step Thirty-Three: Wrap back to the right, and then come up after the third strand from the edge.

Soumak to the Right and See the BraidStep Thirty-Four: Wrap back to the right, and then come up after the fourth strand from the edge. Repeat until you're all the way across that row. You'll wrap around the other edge and then be done. It should look like a braid.

Step Thirty-Five: I then added another layer of peach before starting with my chunkiest yarn. Again, I started from about four rows in, and instead of going over and under every other strand, I did two strands at a time. This creates a basketweave. It's just another way to add texture and keep things from feeling monotonous. I added four rows of that and then another few layers of light green in a thin yarn to lock things down. 

Clean Up The Back SideStep Thirty-Six: Once I was done with adding more yarn, I flipped my weaving over to clean up the back. In the past I've just tied random ends together and trimmed them, but that can get bulky. The preferred method is to take each tail in your needle and stitch them through the back side of some of the yarn. Then you remove the needle and trim the ends.

Step Thirty-Seven: Here's a shot of the messy back and the green that has been tucked in nicely and trimmed.

Remove From The LoomFlip it back over, and carefully cut your warp strands two at a time and about 4" – 6" above your last row of yarn. You'll want enough that you can tie a knot and then fold them behind your weaving and tuck them in just like the last step. Tying a knot secures your weaving from falling apart. Once all of your warp strands are tied in knots, you can gently pull it off the bottom pegs.

Tuck In Your EndsTuck the top strands back behind your weaving as you did with the rest of the messy strands.

Sew It To Your RodUsing more warp yarn, tie a knot in one end, and stitch through each knotted strand and up and over your dowel rod, copper pipe, driftwood, etc. I have these on hand, so I used them, but dowel rods are much cheaper.

Add Your HangerAfter you've stitched your wall hanging to your rod, make a simple hanger using the loop knot again. 

Simple Weaving TutorialWeaving can seem so intimidating to a beginner, but it's one of my  favorite mediums. For more weaving inspiration and step-by-step photos for creating a variety of woven projects, check out my new book, DIY Woven Art. It's a great resource for beginners! -Rachel

Credits// Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Rachel Denbow. Edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • this is too cool! I really want to learn how to macrame this summer, as well as improve my sewing. now i’ll have to add weaving to the list! 🙂

  • This is amazing and perfectly-timed for me too as only this morning I was thinking that I wanted to have a go at weaving. Thank you so much! x

  • I fancied doing a little bit of weaving for a while but honestly thought it be too difficult this doesn’t look to hard

  • Yay! I’m so happy for this. I was really bummed when I couldn’t attend the event Rachel taught at in Denver. I was interested in learning the braided technique and just how to fine tune my weavings a bit in general. This is perfect. Thanks Rachel! And thanks E & E!

  • ohh, this is super easy to follow!

    I took a day class last year and learned to weave using a square. It was sooo much fun. And fast. Wow.

  • I already know how to crochet, so perhaps this won’t be too challenging. I love how you can make your own wall hangings with it and decorate your home with your hobby.

  • I taught myself how to weave after being so inspired by boucherouite rugs. I even use the same loom! These instruction are more helpful than any books I’ve found- and it’s always fun to see other people’s techniques. Thanks!

  • Thank you for breaking down the process. You make it sound so feasible I might have to try this. Would make a great gift and easy decor for our bedroom!

  • YES! I gasped when I saw this post. I’m about to buy a loom so this is perfect! Thank you thank you!

  • Hi.
    I wanted to thank you , as a Fiber artist, for sharing such good fiberful tutorials on your blog. I appreciate how you share and inspire people into using more handmade methods to decorate or whatever else. I have one critic that could help the weaving improve, you might do this already but your pictures did not show it at all and in woven pieces it’s an important step. When your weaving a new row, make sure your warp thread is Not parallel to your already woven section. It should make a triangle ending at least two inches above your already woven section, then be pushed down. This helps ease the distance with all the over and under, if your triangle is too small your sides will start to pull in. Oh and wash! Washing helps relax the fibers and your finish piece wouldn’t look so stiff. That’s my advice… Take it or leave it

  • Thank you Rachel!!! In so excited about this post, I’ve been hoping she’ll come to southern California for a class or something after all the awesome weavings I’ve been seeing on her instagram, but now I can try this!!

  • Lemme just say you guys are intense with your instructions on everything and I love it. Keep up the fabulous work ABM team. Congrats to all your success now and in the future.

  • I’m so excited you shared this! I love the look of woven art. I did one when I was a kid for my Mom and really liked it but man it was ugly. Excited to try a more sophisticated one! Thank you!

  • How I learnt to weave at school was with a piece of cardboard with large zig zags cut at both of the short ends. This was much easier to make and safer for children to learn too.

  • This is fantastic! Thanks so much for putting this post together. I just finished my first weaving last week- it looked a little wonky, but I’m excited to do more. This will definitely help to push me forward in creating new ones!

  • It actually looks easier than I would have thought. And you’re right it does seem addictive. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Such a great weaving tutorial…one of the easiest ones I’ve seen! Great job! I can’t wait to try it myself.

  • Kara, Yes! Glad you enjoyed the tutorial! I tried to share that triangle step in the directions of step 11 but the image showed the triangle halfway pushed down. I may try and make that more clear in future tutorials. Great feedback!

  • Um yeah, I’m totally going to become obsessed with this! I have a woven clutch that I absolutely love because it reminds me of an old wall hanging we used to have when I was younger!

    I’m so excited to try this. I love yarns, but I suck at crocheting and knitting, so maybe this will be just the ticket to getting my yarn fix! Thanks for sharing!

  • Beautiful! I love the technique of adding fringe before the piece is done, I had always done that after (and never in the middle of my project!) Thanks for sharing this–the world needs more weavers 🙂

  • This is beautiful!
    I need to do this!
    I’m going to do this!
    Actually probably not!
    If I did it would end up badly… Oops!

    Much Love, AnnCates
    xx

    anncates.blogspot.com

  • Wonderful tutorial! the step-by-step instructions are very helpful. I sell wood looms in my etsy shop for all who are interested: woodcreeklooms.etsy.com 🙂

  • I loved this post! (: weaving is my favorite trend right now; I’m currently trying it out!

    Can you please share where you bought the copper rod shown? I’m curious to see where you found it!

    Thanks!

  • Wow, this is so cool to see all of the steps and process! Thank you! I have been wanting to learn how to weave for awhile now.. I may start this (attempt) in the wintertime 🙂

  • that weaving project looks beautiful! i’ve been wanting to learn to weave as well. i purchased a 1960s book of projects a while back and this totally makes me want to give it a go!

  • Such a great tutorial – I didn’t even know that I wanted to learn how to weave but I sure do now! Looking forward to searching for some nice yarns, although not sure my first attempt will be as pretty as yours!

  • I have to say, I am tempted to try this to make some coasters in some bright colours! These turned out great!

  • Taylor,
    You can buy small copper rods at most large hardware stores as well as a pipe cutter (inexpensive) to cut them down to your preferred size. Good luck!

  • Rachel – I am SO GLAD you finally shared your process for making those beautiful items I’ve been ogling on your Instagram. As someone who is cautious about starting new craftiness, but who also adores the weavings I’ve seen lately, I appreciate the step-by-step that will give me some piece of mind in embarking on a new artistic expression.

  • I am in love with these wall hangings and thought I might want to attempt one of my own, but I chickened out and went on Etsy and bought a handmade one. And now that I see your great tutorial, I’m thinking I need to try one of my own! Thanks so much for posting this.

  • I’ve been dying to get my hands on a funky weaving, but now I am SO excited to try it myself! This tutorial is fantastic for visual learners like me! Thank you!

  • Oooh, I remember doing weavings when I was a kiddo. So cool that it’s done a full circle and is trendy again! Wish I’d kept my old ones, they’d be super cool to have up in my house now!! man!

  • Hi! Thanks so much for the tutorial – this was great!

    I had a question about “starting a few cords in” for the basic over and under technique. How did you then go back and fill in the cords that you skipped – because in the final product it doesn’t look like there are any open spaces?

    Thank you!

  • I am very excited to begin learning how to weave. I have always been interested in it and now that I am retired I will have the time. The tutorial is very informative and clear but I am having trouble printing it. What is the best way to print the tutorial? Thank you.

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