Tapestry and legos: built like bricks

New tapestry weaver question: How do I close up those little holes that form when the colors meet?

Read on my friend, read on...

Plain weave structure

To make woven cloth, threads have to be interlaced in a pattern something like this to create a structurally sound fabric:



Tapestry structure: wider set warps and weft that completely covers them

In tapestry weaving, the warps are set wider apart so that the weft threads can pack together and completely cover the warp something like this:



One of the first questions I often get from new tapestry weavers is how they should lock the wefts together to keep holes from happening. I'm here to tell you that the style of tapestry weaving that I teach is called slit tapestry. There ARE little holes, but they are staggered and they disappear into the fabric as long as you don't line them up.^

If you line up the holes, you'll get a slit like this:

Slits are created in tapestry when you line up the place where the weft relays meet

If you do create long slits, you will need to sew them after they get to a certain size to preserve the integrity of the textile. You can also use some kind of interlock to keep the edges of vertical forms together.

But when the weft relays* do not line up, those tiny holes disappear. When weaving in meet and separate, you'll create these tiny slits all the time. The structure is sound because you're moving them around.

Built like bricks

Tapestry is like building a brick wall in a couple ways. It is woven from the bottom to the top. Each pick of weaving supports the one below it. This is important to create a sound structure. It also makes weaving a lot easier than if you tried to weave shapes in the center of your warp and then fill in around them!

And tapestry is like building with bricks in that the little slits where the weft relays meet shift in every sequence. The video below talks about this concept.

Remember that if you get the blog via email, you can watch this video on my YouTube channel HERE. (or maybe you can see it because I might have finally gotten my settings right!)

To recap,

The weft relays in tapestry weaving are staggered like the joints in a sturdy brick wall.

And not all lined up like a weak wall. 

Of course if you are making long slits on purpose, you'll be using an interlock or sewing them and that fixes that problem!

Do you have any Lego memories? Is my comparison of wall-building to tapestry weaving off base or do you agree? The idea came from a talk I had with Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei a few years ago when they were talking about tapestry being built from bottom to top, "like bricks."

^ A friend of mine, LaDonna Mayer, has taken advantage of those holes, enlarging them as she weaves and then lit the back of the tapestry in her depictions of the cosmos. Check out some images on her website HERE.

* By "weft relay" I mean the  place where two wefts meet each other and then turn back like this: