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Tapestry Weaving for Beginners: Getting Started with Tapestry and Frame Loom Weaving

  • 8 min read
Starting Tapestry and Frame Loom Weaving

Today, the term tapestry weaving often covers two similar but different techniques and we will cover both of them in this article.

One of the simplest types of weaving looms and a popular choice for beginners, the tapestry frame loom is affordable, compact, lightweight, and very easy to learn. It makes the weaving process more straightforward and allows you to experiment with different colours, sizes, knots, and stitches. Normally made out of wood and features a rectangular shape, you can simply hold a frame loom on your lap as you are weaving.

A tapestry weaving loom, on the other hand, is similar to a frame loom but offers the ability to control the sett and often has heddles and a device to create a shed while weaving. It is like a frame loom and can vary in size, generally, tapestry looms are a lot bigger, so you can weave larger projects on it. Unlike the frame loom that you can position on your lap while weaving, a bigger tapestry loom needs a loom stand to keep it upright.

Schacht Arras Tapestry Loom - Tapestry Weaving Australia
An image of the Schacht Arras tapestry loom.

With tapestry or frame loom weaving, you can make use of scrap yarns in order to produce beautiful and unique pieces. It's a fun way to use up yarn scraps that you may have had lying around for years!

So, if you want to begin tapestry weaving, a frame or tapestry loom is a great loom to start. This guide will help you get started on weaving your own tapestries and wall hangings, with everything you need in order to make beautiful pieces of art you can display in any room in the house or office space without much effort at all!

A Beginners Guide: What to Consider When Deciding on a Tapestry Loom

When deciding on a loom, the first thing you should consider is the style of the weaving projects you wish to do. Are you looking to create chunky wall hangings using a variety of weft sizes? A frame loom may be an ideal choice for you. On the other hand, if you are looking to create images with yarn, having the ability to increase your sett will be important so you'll have to go for a tapestry loom.

  1. Size- Choosing a loom will depend on the overall width that you want to weave. If you want to do smaller pieces you won't need to invest in a huge loom. However, if you want to weave large wall art, then you'll need to ensure that the width of your loom is at least as wide as the width of your finished project.
  2. Budget- If you just starting out, a frame weaving loom is a very economical way to get started as these are often very affordable. As your experience grows and you want to explore more complex projects in the future, then consider a tapestry weaving loom that has the additional features that will help you achieve this.
  3. Ease of Use- As a beginner, the ease of use of a specific weaving loom is another major consideration. A frame loom is extremely quick and easy to learn, while a tapestry loom can be a little bit more complex to set up. It is important to remember that a tapestry loom can be warped simply to act as a frame loom however setting up a frame loom to weave detailed tapestries is much more complex.
  4. Non-tensioned versus tensioned tapestry weaving- Frame looms generally have a rectangular shape. The more affordable frame looms do not have tensioning devices. Purchasing a loom with a tensioning device will ensure your work maintains even tension no matter how long it takes your work to be completed.

In summary, choose a loom that will accommodate the size of work you wish to produce. Consider if having a tensioning device and the ability to create a shed is important to you and if you want a loom that has features that will grow with you as your weaving experience develops.

Which Tapestry Loom Should I Start With?

This is a question that deserves to be asked because there are so many different looms on the market. The tapestry and frame loom market is one of the most competitive in the industry and people who are new to the craft often find it hard to decide which looms they should work with, especially when there is such a wide variety.

The Tapestry Loom that you choose will depend on how often you will be using it, how much time you want to spend with it and what type of projects you are interested in.

Handheld Tapestry Looms

The Mirrix Saffron Pocket Loom is a wonderful handheld tapestry loom for beginners. It has adjustable tension and will help you get better sheds and keep even tension throughout your piece. The loom is easy to warp, take less than an hour to build, and is easy to weave on. It's also super portable, so you can take it anywhere.

Upright Tapestry Looms

An upright tapestry loom is a type of tapestry loom that features a built-in stand for upright use on either a tabletop or any flat, sturdy surface. This type of tapestry loom is easy enough for beginners but still includes advanced features like quick-change harnesses, an adjustable beam, and a tension regulator. If you want to weave wide or longer projects, start with any of the Mirrix Tapestry Looms or the Schacht Arras Loom. These are high-quality looms designed specifically for tapestry weaving.

Mirrix tapestry looms are a great investment for professional tapestry weavers as they offer many benefits such as the metal parts, which make them very strong. They also have the ability to change dent size to accommodate different sizes of yarn.

Materials & Equipment: What Do You Need to Get Started with Tapestry Weaving?

In the process of tapestry weaving, a lot of time is spent on preparing threads and yarns. In addition to this, it's also important that beginners know how to start with tools like looms and frames as well as learn about different types of knots.

1. Tapestry or Frame Loom

Louet Lisa tapestry fame loom for beginners - Louet Australia
An image of the Louet Lisa tapestry and frame loom.

Naturally, the first thing you need to have in order to get started with tapestry is a tapestry loom. There are several brands that offer high-quality tapestry looms, including Ashford, Louet, Schacht, and Mirrix. Choose a loom based on the style of weaving you are aiming for, as well as your budget.

Mirrix tapestry weaving looms - for the beginner and professional
An image of Mirrix looms in different sizes.

The Mirrix tapestry and bead weaving looms are portable, easy to use, available in various sizes, and offer many possibilities. These looms can be used with or without a shedding device.

For those who are new to tapestry weaving, Thread Collective recommends starting with a Weaving Starter Kit from Ashford. The kits come with an Ashford weaving frame loom, warp yarn and weft yarn, weaving needle, dowel for hanging, fibre for texture, as well as detailed instructions so you can get started right away!

2. Shuttles, Bobbins, Butterflies

Schacht tapestry bobbins - Schacht Australia
An image of Schacht tapestry bobbins.

Tapestry bobbinshelp in making the process easier for weaving on high-warp tapestry looms. These tools are used for holding the yarn in an organized manner and for beating the weft in.

Stick shuttles, on the other hand, are used to carry the weft yarn across by hand. These are small and lightweight tools that are available in different sizes to suit your frame loom.

3. Weaving Needle

Ashford tapestry needles - Ashford Australia
An image of Ashford weaving needles.

A tapestry needle has a blunt end and a large, wide eye that makes it easier to thread thicker yarns or several strands of thread through it. Timber needles are great for beginners on frame looms and long metal needles are great for delicate work and tyding up your ends.

Recommendations:

4. Tapestry Beater

Ashford tapestry beater - Ashford Australia
An image of the Ashford tapestry beater being used.

A tapestry beater is a handheld tool that is used to compress your weft yarn. Any tapestry beater will work, although some use forks and hair combs as alternatives. Some beaters are weighted and some are not. The advantage of weighted tapestry beaters over the others is that these can give you a little bit more help packing down your weft, which often happens when you are working on something that needs a really tight weave.

Recommendations:

5. Flick Carder

Flick carder - a beginners tool for tapestry weaving
An image of a carding tool with fibre.

If you are going to use fibres to add texture to your tapestry project, you'll need to tease and separate the fibres first before incorporating them into your weft. The perfect tool for this is a flick carder.

Recommendations:

6. Tapestry Books

Tapestry weaving books for beginners and professionals
An image showing tapestry books and tapestry weaving accessories available at Thread Collective.

With tapestry weaving, you can create beautiful wall hangings with a variety of patterns and even create spectacular images with yarn. It is very helpful to read tapestry books before you start your first project, or even from time to time after you've done a few projects. Choose books that include fun projects to work on, complete with illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions.

Recommendations:

7. Yarn

Tapestry weaving yarn choices
An image of tapestry yarns with a Louet tapestry beater.

Last, but not least, is yarn. Before you start weaving, you would have to know how to choose the right yarns for this type of loom. Choosing a warp yarn that has little stretch is important when using a frame or tapestry loom. We would recommend using a cotton twine when starting out.

As for weft yarns, there are many types of yarn with different sizes, colours, and textures to experiment with. Experiment, experiment and have fun experimenting.

More Tips on Getting Started with Tapestry Weaving

Is tapestry weaving difficult? Tapestry weaving can be intimidating for some beginners, but it's actually very easy! Warping can take just minutes, but as a beginner, it is recommended that you spend at least an hour on weaving basics before beginning to weave your own project so that you can get familiar with how this type of loom works.

Read books about tapestry weaving.

With tapestry weaving, you can create beautiful wall hangings with a variety of patterns and even create spectacular images with yarn. It is very helpful to read tapestry books before you start your first project, or even from time to time after you've done a few projects. Choose books that include fun projects to work on, complete with illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions.

Recommendations:

Visit a local guild.

By visiting a local weaving guild, not only will you meet people with the same interest in weaving as you, but you'll also get a chance to learn weaving techniques as they are demonstrated in front of you, as well as exchange creative ideas with like-minded crafters.

Start with something that inspires you.

When you are ready to start working on your tapestry piece, sample numerous different designs or motifs until you find one that inspires you and has some meaning for the person who will receive your finished product; this will make your final piece more personal. It might also be helpful to choose a project with an aesthetic appeal because it will increase your level of interest in learning more about this art form.

Can you weave tapestry on other looms?

Yes, aside from frame looms, you can weave tapestry on a rigid heddle loom with a stand attachment or on a floor loom for complex rug weaving.

Begining Your Tapestry Weaving Journey

While weaving is a craft that has been around for centuries, it's also one of the most popular DIY crafts on the market today, especially frame loom weaving. With so many inspirations you can find online, it’s always going to be exciting when you start a new tapestry project.

Now that you know the basics of tapestry weaving, you already have an idea of the many possibilities that weaving on a tapestry loom offers. If you are still unsure of what tapestry loom to choose, feel free to make an appointment with us so we can discuss loom requirements and anything you need to know to get started on a tapestry loom.

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