Monday, January 26, 2015

Finishing Tapestry with Hem or Turn-back

Once upon a time someone asked me about hems or turn-backs as finishing steps for tapestry.  I delayed answering because at the time I hadn't been using that method for finishing very often.  However, in the last year I've done turn-backs with several pieces.  I photographed the steps I took on the last one (the landscape shown in the previous post) and so here's my take on using a hem or turn-back.

When doing the hem or turn-back I use a suggestion from Barbara Heller and weave several slits across the width of the piece so that the turn-back area won't pull in at the edges.  I usually make the slits 3" to  8" across, more or less, depending on the width of the whole piece.  On the 19" wide landscape I made two slits at each edge as I wove the 1" wide turn-back (on a larger piece I make that a bit wider):

Above is the piece laid out on the grid board.  Weft ends have been trimmed and the piece has been steam pressed (I didn't block* it, just gave it a pressing using steam in the iron and a dampened press cloth on top).  The turn-backs were finger pressed down and T-pinned, then steam pressed and left overnight.

Next, I basted the turn-back using regular sewing thread and a big running stitch, removing the T-pins as I did that:

Once both sides were basted, I stitched down the turn-back using a tapestry needle and a tiny stitch that caught only a little of the weft at the back of the tapestry.  Since this piece will be mounted onto a fabric covered board I don't need the turn-back tacked down more than that.

The white thread in the big running stitches is the basting thread that is to be removed at the end.  I'm stitching down the turn-back using a double strand of the same yarn as used in the weft.  You can see that I'm only catching a bit of the weft and then coming through near the edge of the turn-back.  The stitches are about 1/4" apart.  Other times I have used a regular sewing thread to stitch down the turn-back instead of weft.

Finished turn-backs on both top and bottom; I've trimmed the warp ends a bit more and left them about 3/4" long:

Soon I'll post about the next finishing steps for this piece.  It will be much like what I've shown before when I've mounted small tapestries on a fabric covered board as described in this post.

*Kathy Spoering wrote a great post about blocking at her blog--find it at this link.  I don't always block tapestries but when I do I use her suggestions.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Many = One (weft color, that is)

I'm approaching the top of a tapestry that's 19" wide x 14" high, sett at 8 epi with 12/12 cotton seine twine.  As you see, it's a landscape and it's based on a drawing I made a couple of summers ago.  The area of land includes foreground with shallow field and a couple of trees that cast a deep shadow across the ground, a deeper middle ground that has a mass of foliage across the width as well as a small hill in a bit of distance, and then background with mountain ridge in more distance.  Cumulus clouds are building up above the mountains.   Blue sky is all across the top for about 1" above the top of the highest cloud.

You'll notice that the foreground and middle ground areas had many wefts making up the shapes.  Fewer shapes were used to create the mountains and the clouds.  However, I tried to break up wefts throughout the tapestry so that selvedges wouldn't begin to pull in once there were less wefts in play in any of the areas.

That's the reason the blue sky is being woven with so many separate wefts (twenty of them, in fact) -- even thought the entire sky is of the same color.  I wanted to keep the weft from beginning to draw the warps together and creating width problems at the top.  Seeing the top of a tapestry narrow as the end is approaching is a common problem (nightmare? headache?) faced by many tapestry weavers.  And it's usually caused by having fewer wefts at work across the width.  And/or by speeding up the weaving because the end is in sight!

Simple weft-faced plain weave--always a challenge!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year--wishing you many tapestry adventures in 2015!

Yes, it's been months and months since I've posted to this blog.  I hope something useful is included in the postings and the various links I have at the left margin even though I haven't posted new information lately.  In the upcoming year I plan to post more often with tips, hints, strategies I've found in my own practice of tapestry making.  And I want to continue to share about the work of others as they teach, guide, instruct and in numerous ways become inspirations about the joy of tapestry.

Therefore, here's my first share for 2015:

This is a link to information about Rebecca Mezoff's online tapestry class.  The next one starts TOMORROW, January 5.  I don't know if it's too late to enroll but I'm sure you could inquire with Rebecca at the contact she's included in her post.

In whatever way and with whomever you choose to study tapestry, may your wefts never tangle and your warps never break! And may beautiful tapestries flow out of your hands forever.