A student came today with an exquisitely gorgeous fabric which frustrated her so much while weaving that she cut it off the loom and threw away the remainder of the warp! When I showed her this illustration from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, she could see that the selvedge threads were being abraded by the reed. The following is found on page 302 in the chapter on selvedges. Beautiful selvedges aren’t the end in itself, but the result of techniques that solve ugly selvedge problems and broken threads. I’ll be posting more on selvedges, I’ll bet.
A common selvedge problem: Too much draw-in In my teaching experience, the problem that showed up almost as soon as the weaving began was that the cloth narrowed in too much. If the problem wasn’t noticed and dealt with soon, the selvedge threads would begin to break by the abrasion of the reed. Look at the edges of the warp at the fell. Is the reed stretching out the warps way beyond the width of the cloth? If so, can you see why the reed is abrading and breaking the selvedges? Too much draw-in at the selvedges is shown in Figure 517.
If you have a big draw-in problem, you can use a temple or stretcher cords such as croc clips. See page 312. To understand more why the cloth draws in and how to control it so the selvedge threads don’t break, read the sidebar, “How warps and wefts bend,” on the next page.
Three common causes of this problem (in order of commonness)
1. The warp tension is too tight.
2. There is not enough slack in the weft. (No diagonal of the weft is put into
the shed.) See above.
3. The wefts are pulled too tightly at the selvedges.
Rules to follow to avoid too much draw-in
1. The warp tension should not be tight, certainly not tight like a violin string.
Basically, it just needs to be tight enough to get the sheds to open. It should
feel firm when you pat it to test the amount of tension, maybe even fairly
firm, but definitely not tight. If your selvedges are narrowing in, check the
warp tension first.
2. There must be enough slack in the weft that it can bend as it goes over and
under the warps. Figure 513 shows the diagonal needed to allow for this
slack. You will know you have too much diagonal when loops appear in the
weft in the cloth. If the warp only draws in a tiny amount, say ¼” or so on
each side, you have put in enough slack. Read about the diagonal, above.
3. Do not pull the weft tight as you put it into the shed. If you do, two things
will happen—first, you won’t get in the slack you need (see above) and
second, the selvedges will draw in too much.
Beginners sometimes try to solve this problem with another
problem—putting loops of wefts at the selvedges. This effort
does not do anything to widen the warp at the edges. It just
leaves unsightly loopy selvedges. The slack in the weft is
needed clear across the warp—not just at the edges. Read how the weft
should turn at the selvedges, above. Read more about good selvedges on