Make Your Own Needle Pillow

Here is a needle pillow I made which I use quite often. (I made quite a few to give as gifts when traveling.) The technique can be called Monk’s Belt, Overshot, or Overshot on Opposites. I think the definitive book about all of this is The Weaving Book by Helene Bress. I call it Overshot on Opposites. It’s similar to what we normally think overshot is but the blocks are clear with no half-tones. I was asked for the draft. A weaving draft has 4 parts. This photo represents the drawdown draft. I’ll address each of the separate drafts below. I hope beginners can make needle pillows and learn a little about drafting as well.

Here is a close-up of the weave. The threading draft is next.

Here is the threading draft. The alternate blocks are threaded on shafts 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. How many threads in each block depends upon how many warp threads are in an inch (epi). In my case I think I had 16 ends per inch and the blocks had 4 warps in each block to measure about ¼” wide.

The treadling draft for overshot is always special in that every other weft is plain weave (also called tabby). In between the tabby rows are the pattern rows which have the floats that make up the blocks. To make the floats in the pattern, you have to raise the shafts for the block you don’t want to show. So, when you want the wefts to show where shafts 3 & 4 are threaded, you lift shafts 1 & 2. When you want the floats in the 1 & 2 threaded blocks, you treadle to lift the threads in the 3 & 4 shaft areas.

Treadling drafts only show the pattern wefts and use the words “Use Tabby” to indicate that you treadle tabby rows in between the pattern rows.

For the tie-up draft, this is a great way to tie up the treadles on 4-shaft looms. Once the treadles are arranged this way, you’ll never have to change the tie-up again. For most overshot patterns, the two tabby wefts are: lift 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. See how you can “walk” the treadles to accomplish that by pressing both the 1 & 3 treadles with the left foot and then the right foot treadles the other tabby: 2 & 4? I always like to walk the treadles whenever I weave if it is at all possible for more efficiency and ease.

Look at the treadle tie-up and the finished pillow. Can you see what treadles to press to lift shafts 3 & 4 (for floats in 1 & 2 areas)?  And what treadles to lift 1 & 2 to make the weft float over the 3 & 4 areas? Then remember to “Use Tabby” between these pattern rows. A trick to remember which tabby to use is to have the shuttle be on the side of the cloth that your tabby foot will be used next. Weave drafts are explained in my book, Weaving for Beginners in the chapter on weaving a sampler. It is available on my website:

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