Tuesday 3 May 2011

Tablet Woven Edge

In many extant clothes from the middle ages (ex. from Herjolfsnes and London) some of the edges have been finished by a narrow tablet woven ribbon, sewn to the garment (using the weft) at the same time as it’s woven. I have long wanted to try this, but haven’t been able to work up the energy until last night. I’m making my husband a 14th century liripipe hood soon, and I want to use this technique on it. Not to mess up on the real thing, I thought I’d better be a good girl and actually make a trial run first (I’m often way too impatient for that…). I plan to use thin-ish, easy fraying wool for his hood, and line it with another thin wool fabric, so I used fabric pieces of about the same quality in this experiment.

I won’t go into the basics of tablet weaving now – if you don’t know how it works, google it or look it up on youtube. I used three tablets, all four holes threaded with fine, three strand wool yarn that i had in my stash, folded in the edges of the fabrics a little, and then started weaving. Every time I had pulled the yarn through the warp threads, I made a tiny stitch through both the layers of fabric, so the weft thread really made a sort of circle: through the warp, stitch through the fabrics, turn the tablets, through the warp etc.

If this is how it was really done, and if I used the right number of tablets or warp threads, I don’t know, as I haven’t read any book about it yet (I must see if they have one at the local library), but it worked and looked very nice, I thought. Well, parts of it did not look nice, as I was experimenting with different ways of doing it, and some looked better than others. The above mentioned way was the one I liked the best for attaching outer fabric and lining. I know of a few things I might have done differently to give a better result, so I’ll do that next time. As you can see it’s not perfect, like the tablet weaving being done too tight for the fabric, but for a first try I’m pleased.

I also tried to just take a tiny stitch in one layer of fabric, so that every time the weft thread went through the warp, I also took a tiny stitch on that side: through the weft, tiny stitch in one layer, turn the tablets, through the warp, tiny stitch on the layer on that side, turn the tablets, etc. This made the two fabrics attach to the woven strand, but not to each other, and you could fold the two sides out from each other. Would work very well to attach the two sides of a purse, I think.

This way of finishing a garment looks pretty, and is very fun to do – even T. followed the process with interest. Now that I know that I can do it, I have to do some research on how to do it right. There are several different ways, from what I hear, but I’m not sure mine is one of them….


  1. Sarah this is lovely!!! I can't wait to hear your further thoughts on how to make this since I have been interested in trying it myself, but still need to figure out how to do tablet weaving before I can try it. I think what you have made looks fantastic, and am looking forward to seeing the hood when you make it.

  2. Vad fint! Nu blir jag sugen på att testa själv.. har precis satt upp min andra varp nånsin, när jag är klar med den blir det nog ett kantningsförsök.

    Iallafall, om du vill kan jag göra lite undersökningar också ang. brickor osv (har massa böcker!) Tog en snabb titt i Herjolfsnesboken och där står det "In tablet-woven piped edging a few tablets would be used, each with one warp thread drawn through each of two diagonally opposite holes.." Det verkar alltså som att man bara använt två av hålen. På deras principskiss har man använt två brickor trädda i två hål var, men jag förstår inte om det är en rekonstruktion eller bara ett exempel. Ska kolla vidare! Kram!

  3. Thank you!

    Tack, det vore jättesnällt! Sökte på stadsbibliotekets hemsida, men det verkar inte finnas en enda bok med Grönlandsfynden där. Men med tanke på att det såg lika illa ut i Lund, som ju har en rätt bra textil- och dräkthstorieavdelning, så undrar jag hur bra min sökning var... Ska prova att bara trä i två hål nästa gång.

  4. Sarah, I just found you, and love the work you are doing. It's hard to visualize things sometimes, and seeing the tablet weaving on the seam edge helps so much. thanks so much

  5. Thanks so much for this. Seeing it makes all the difference. I just found you, and will add you to my watch list.

  6. I think that this is the way that it was done in the period, with tablet weaving being the base for the warp of a warp weighted loom. The weft threads, of the tablet weaving, are drawn through the tablet warp to the length of the warp for the cloth you are going to weave, becoming the warp for the plain weave cloth. see: http://www.vicus.org.uk/weaver/Pages/wwl.htm


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