Monday, April 28, 2014

Tissart Tapestry Loom Warping--One Method

I'm posting this step-by-step description for one of the ways I've used for the Tissart tapestry loom.  By the way, the Tissart loom is no longer manufactured by Leclerc Looms but they sometimes are to be found through resale of used looms.  

I've used this method with other upright tapestry looms, as well.  If you weave on floor looms you'll recognize that this is a variation of what's called "front to back" warping where the reed is sleyed, the heddles threaded, and then the warp beamed.  I've also used a "back to front" process for warping the upright tapestry looms in which either I use the reed to rough sley the warp and then beam, or use a raddle to space the warp as it's beamed.

Feel free to use and adapt as best fits your needs.  Please, if you use these instructions specifically, note the source!

Threading the Tissart Tapestry Loom
Instructions developed by Tommye McClure Scanlin

            I’ve had a Tissart loom since 1988 and have warped it many times using several methods, including the instructions that came with the loom.  I’ve found this method to be a good one.  Of course, it isn’t the only way one can proceed—whatever works for someone is the “best” way! 

The instructions below describe sleying the reed, followed by threading the heddles and tying on the ends to the apron rod on the warp beam.  The warp is then beamed and next tied on at the front apron rod for the final tensioning.   When beaming, I use either flat lattice strips between layers or roll corrugated cardboard wound between each revolution of the warp beam.

1.  Make warp chain(s) and put in a tie at the cross.  I usually have no more than about 100 warp ends per chain so the bundles will be small enough to easily tension when beaming.

2.  Unhook the beater from the springs holding up it at the sides.  This allows the bottom part of the beater to rest on the breast beam.  Put the correct dent reed into the beater.

3.  Sit comfortably and have a good light nearby.  Before beginning to sley, loosely wind the warp chains around the breast beam (or, alternatively, sit on them) so the warp won’t slip too far forward when pulling ends through the dents.  

Leah's holding the cross for sleying in this photo.  The warp chain is wrapped a couple of times around the lower beam to hold it secure as the sleying takes place.
Allow about 20” from the point where the cross is placed and the end of the warp that is pointed toward the reed and heddles.  I hold the cross in my fingers, since I make each warp group fairly small, but one can also place the cross sticks into the warp cross and sleyed from those.   If using cross sticks be sure they’re tied together about 1” apart and also tied to the loom so they won’t slip out on one side or the other. Just do which ever seems most comfortable for you and then proceed to sley the reed. 

If you'd rather use cross sticks, slip them in place...

then secure them at top and bottom so they're about 1" apart.

Leah's measuring from center to right to begin sleying.

Sleying begins.
After sleying, tie groups in slip knots as a security measure while getting ready for the next steps... don't want any warps to fall out!
4.  After sleying, re-hook the springs to the beater assembly so the reed with sleyed warp in place is higher and nearer the heddles.  

5.  Releasing the warp beam brake, bring the warp beam bar or rod up and over the top beam toward the front of the loom, placing it to hang within about 6-8” from the top of the heddles.   Make sure the rod lashed to the apron rod is straight and horizontal.  You'll want the ends of the warp to be long enough to reach a couple of inches above the bar:

Leah makes sure the warp extends long enough to be tied to the warp beam bar.

6.  Move half the number of heddles needed for the warp to the center and begin threading (I’m right handed and move from the right side to the left so half heddle group is pushed to the center right).  
Leah's counting and moving heddles to the center.

Moving from right to left I pick up each warp from its place in the reed, thread it, and then tie it with a good, firm knot onto the warp apron rod that is hanging over the top beam.  This process continues until all warp ends are both threaded and tied on. *  At this point, the loose wrapping of warp chain around the breast beam may have to be loosened a bit to extend the warp ends long enough to tie on at the warp beam rod.  However, I still keep the warp under some tension so the ends won’t be pulling forward too much while tying them to the warp beam rod.  This sounds tedious but actually isn’t!
*Alternatively, one can thread 1” worth of ends and then make a firm overhand knot with those.  Tie this knot around the warp apron rod as a group.

Tying on in 1" groups (the first couple at the right are tied individually)

Leah decided she preferred to tie on individual ends as they were threaded rather than the 1" groups.
7.  To beam, unwrap the warp, shake it out each bundle, pull/ping, etc.  Turn the warp beam handle to roll until the rod is back over the top beam and attached to the warp beam, then stop and pull down on each group of the warp firmly.  When the rod begins to roll onto the warp beam insert corrugated roll paper or the first of lattice strips.  I usually set up a rhythm of turning the warp beam handle to roll up a complete revolution, then go to the front to pull down firmly at each warp bunch, shaking and pinging if necessary to loosen any tangling. 

8.  If using lattice strips for most of the warp, after starting the warp with a few inches of corrugated paper, I then wind with molding or lattice strips, about four to eight per turn.  I usually lay the stick on top of the warp beam, hold it with one hand while turning the crank with the other until it’s secured with the warp.  It’s a bit tricky to wind on by yourself using wood strips but can be done.

Leah's adding corrugated paper to the warp beam.

9.  The beaming is completed when the warp ends are about even with the lower beam.

The bar attached to the cloth beam is held up by temporarily tying it onto the loom (the warp ends are tied with slip knots to keep them out of the way until ready to tie onto the bar).
10.  To tie onto the front apron rod, take 1” groups, splitting these in half to wrap around the rod and tie with a half-knot.  For instance, if using 8 epi, then 8 ends are in each group tied on.  I begin tying with the center-most group, then a group on the extreme side, then the group on the opposite side.  These initial three ties will hold the tie-on rod up.  Going back to the center, tie a group immediately to the left or right of that first tie.  Then, work alternately from the center group out to either side, to tie on all groups with half-knots. 

11.  When all bouts are tied with half-knot then go back to the middle, pull both tails up toward the reed firmly and complete with a slip knot or a bow knot.  Next, move alternately from the middle to either side, pulling and tightening and comparing, by feel, to the previously tied group.  I pull firmly when tying on but before beginning to weave I tighten to the weaving tension (quite tight) with the forward take-up motion lever that hangs from the front cloth beam.  You may want to put band-aids on your fingers before beginning the tensioning step since you’ll probably rub blisters on your fingers if you don’t!

Leah checks the tension of the warp after she's tied it on and made the final bow of the knot.
12.  After tying on I weave in lattice strips (or in the photo example, strips of plastic blinds) in alternating sheds to advance the tie-on rod all the way to the cloth beam.  I like to get the rod to the cloth beam before beginning the "good" part of the weaving.  I've found that this will give a good, firm base on which to begin.  Yes, it's more loom waste but if you're going to working on a piece for weeks or months, don't you want the advantage of the best possible start?! 

Looking into the loom to see the tie-on bar has now wound down to the cloth beam.

I beat these with the beater, beating after each shed change.  When the rod and tie-on knots touch the cloth beam I weave in about 1-2” of scrap yarn at the top of the strips, beating with the beater firmly.  Finally, before beginning the “good” part of the weaving, I weave a header of about ½” using the same twine the warp is made of.  This should spread the sett of the warp to exactly what you want.  Once all that’s in place, double check for the warp spacing and the weaving is ready to begin. **
**If using half-hitches to secure the ends do this now.

The photos of the process are of one of the weaving students at the University of North Georgia--thanks for being the model and craftsperson, Leah! 


  1. 6/29/2014 Thank you so very much for posting this detailed warping tutorial.....very helpful and I will have to rewarp my big Fireside loom soon for a new tapestry. The photos make everything so much clearer. At present I am in Part 3 of Rebecca's on-line tapestry course--part of her first group. It is truly an excellent detailed course and she is a wonderful teacher. Again, thank you for the above post which I will keep safe and next to my loom.....from Janet in NJ

  2. Free to a good home, Tissart Tapestry loom 60". Can be disassembled and shipped. Beautiful art tool, have two.

    1. Hello! Please tell me how much you want to ship to me. My email address is Thank you so much! Rosemary

  3. Please note I'm not the seller of the loom--contact that person at the email they noted in the comment. And I don't have any information about the loom or the seller.

  4. I have not ever wound on a warp that was cut at both ends.It is liberating to know a warp can be saved if the loom has to be taken apart and moved Thanks for this lesson,

  5. I just warped my loom this way and it was so easy! Thanks so much. I am wondering where you got the springs on the sides for the beater. I bought some new springs from lowes and they do not work well enough.

    1. Jennifer, so glad this method worked for you! The springs are the original ones with the Tissart loom. I'm not sure where sufficiently strong springs might be gotten-- sorry. However, I usually don't use the beater on my Tissart since I build shapes. I often C-clamp the beater at the highest point I can put it. So the reed is there to help with warp spacing but the beater/reed isn't pulled down much if at all.

    2. Have you checked with Le Clerc Looms?? They have most parts for their discontinued looms. Fran

  6. The shed on my tissart only opens about an inch. Is that normal for this loom?

  7. The shed should be larger than 1". Maybe the treadle tie-up cords are too short? Possibly the warp is too tight? It should be a tight warp but if extreme that might be hindering the shed action. Are the frames in the slots?
    I hope you can get it working!

  8. Well, I just measured the shed and it is indeed about an inch! I can open it to about 1 1/2" but that's the size of it. A couple of thoughts about the shed size--first, are you using the beater with the weaving, moving from selvedge to selvedge with the weft? If so, are you using a stick shuttle or passing the weft through in bundles, like butterflies? If with a stick shuttle, the shed size may seem a bit small. If with butterflies, then you'll probably be placing into the shed in small amounts at a time and the shed size shouldn't be a problem.
    A second point is to keep the shed as large as possible, keep the top of the web as low as possible. If using the beater you'll know there's a point below which you can't advance the cloth since the beater will bump the bottom of the loom. If you're not using the beater, if building by shapes (this is the way I do it), you might C-clamp the beater to the highest point to keep it out of your way. The shed will be the largest near the reed when it's in the highest position it can be in.
    Good luck!

  9. Hi again Tommye! Thank you for your help - I am not sure if my last reply worked so I am writing again. I did figure out what was wrong and the loom works perfectly now. I have encountered a new problem though, the back warps of the shed are very slack while the front warps are very taut. I have tried adjusting the tension several times but still get the same results. Could this simply be a problem with the warp material or is something more nefarious going on? I can't figure it out... Thanks again for your reply, and many more thanks for helping strangers on the internet out. Hope you're well!

    1. Well, I'm not sure what may be causing the problem with back warps of the shed being more slack than the front warps since the mechanism for moving the shafts to open the shed rocks back and forth as you treadle, so both of the warps should be being pulled evenly, I believe.

      What is the warp material?

  10. Many thanks, Tommye (and Leah), for these fantastic instructions. I followed them faithfully to warp my vertical Varpapuu loom and am now starting my first big tapestry on it. I'd never warped front-to-back before but you walked me through it. Woohoo!

  11. I'm grateful to you for such an informative post. I recently acquired a Varpapuu tapestry loom. It came with no directions, no information, and a few parts missing (springs for the beater). It looks similar to your Tissart in this post. Where would I find information about my loom, as Google has turned up nothing? Any special considerations? I'm trying to get a handle on what I should figure for loom waste. Most of my weaving experience has been band-weaving, Navajo weaving, and some tapestry. Cloth beam to warp beam is 42 inches, should this plus 10" to knot be enough? Thanks. BTW, we have friends in common in Gainesville, Florida.

  12. Janean, I'm glad this might be a helpful post! I am not familiar with Varpapuu tapestry looms. However, if you might use as a loom waste guide the distance that would be between the warp beam attachment (rod or apron?) and where it might extend over the top of the loom and where the tie-on rod on the cloth beam could be brought to the highest point... then use that measurement as the starting point for loom waste amount. You'd have tie-on length at the cloth beam area, probably 12-15" worth. If you've warped so that there's a loop end at the warp beam side there wouldn't be any tie-on amount to consider there. So... as you're saying, 42" from beam to beam plus a knot allowance should do it. I'd say try it for a very, very narrow warp... maybe 3" wide... first to judge it that's enough length.

  13. Thank you so much for the post and all of the other information you've shared, Tommye. This is a wonderful resource. I bought a Tissart loom and used your directions for warping it - what a blessing! Do you release the tension on your warp in between weaving sessions?


    1. Jacque, I don't release the tension between weaving times. I'm glad that some of these thoughts about warping the Tissart have been helpful to you!

  14. We just bought a LeClerc Tissart loom and I have put it together using some of your information and other sites. Yet, I am not sure that I have connected the brake properly. I have not found a good picture of the proper way to connect it, pictures, comments, etc.. Can you help me as we really like this loom and how it is built. Thank you for your attention. Will Watt

    1. Will, do you have a copy of the Tissart manual from the Leclrec site? Even though the loom isn't manufactured any longer, the manual is there. If you need a new band for the friction brake, it would be available from Leclerc as would any of the other parts, I believe. If I get a chance to go by the university where the Tissart is that I used for the post, I'll try to take a few photos to post at the end.

  15. Will... here's a link to what Leclerc has on their site about installing friction brakes--scroll down to the bottom to see a photo of the Tissart friction brake as installed:

  16. Thank you for that information. We also have to "L" brackets that are on the top of each side of the harness slides. What are they for? Is there something that is supposed to be attached to them?? Thanks again for your help. Will

  17. Will, I don't have a clue about why the "L" brackets are there! I've never used them on my loom for anything.