Introduction: Make a Frame Loom for Weaving

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instruc…

This past spring, I spent a couple of weeks vacationing on one of the Gulf Islands.  The islands are home to a lot of artist and the place I stayed at was showcasing some of their work in the dinning area and lobby.  One piece that caught my eye was a woven tapestry, it was quite stunning.  It occurred to me that I didn't know a thing about weaving.  When I got home I did a bit of Google searching and payed a visit to the library to try to learn more about weaving.  I actually did not find a lot of information for beginners wanting learn how to weave online and the library books were old and had to be retrieved from storage, but I did figure out how to make a simple frame loom and weave on it.

Here is my instructable on How to Weave on a Frame Loom.

I included a glossary to help with the weaving terminology.

The following links were particularly helpful:

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • Wood: two pieces 26in X 1.5in X 3/4in
                       two pieces 20in X 1.5in X 3/4in

                       two pieces 2in X 1.5in X 3/4in

                       twp pieces 12in X 1in  X 3/4in
  • Hammer and nails
  • Measuring tape
  • Sugru
  • Wingnuts and screws
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
  • Wood: Four pieces16.5in X 1in X 1/8in
  • Rigid and flat plastic
  • Utility tool
  • Glue
  • Clamps
  • Wood: several pieces 7.5in X 1in X 1/8in
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper

Step 2: Frame

I bought the wood I used for the frame from a nearby hardware store, it was an 8 ft piece that they cut for me into two 26 inch and two 20 inch long pieces, the remaining four inch piece I used for the front legs in step 4. I made a rectangular with the four pieces, with the shorter pieces sitting on top of the longer ones and put two nails in each corner.

Step 3: Frame: Back Legs

While weaving, I found that the most comfortable positioning of the loom was to place the front part on my lap and the back legs on a table.  You may want to adjust the height of the legs to suit you and your work environment. I also wanted the back legs to fold under so that the frame can lie flat and be tucked away when I wasn't using it, so I used a long screw and a wingnut to attach the legs to the frame.

I drilled holes 2 inches from the back on the long sides of the frame. On the two legs I drilled holes 3/4 inches from the end. I then fed the screw through the frame and then the leg so that the wingnut was on the outside.

Step 4: Frame: Front Legs

With the back legs in the upright position I marked the angle to cut the front legs.  Once I cut the front legs with a saw I glued them onto the frame with wood glue an inch and a half from the end.

Step 5: Frame: Sugru

I added Sugru to the bottom on the legs for traction and to protect my table.  I just needed two pieces of Sugru, and made little crosshatches with a ruler.

Step 6: Heddle

When weaving, you run the weft yarn over and under the warp, as you can imaging this can be tedious and time consuming. Using a heddle makes it a lot easier.  The type of heddle I made is called a rigid heddle, it consists of a wood frame and plastic shafts with alternating vertical slits and holes for the warp thread to pass through.  To start I cut the four thin pieces of wood so that they can fit inside the frame of the loom. The length needed was 16.5 inches.

Step 7: Heddle Continued

To make the shafts, I used some thick plastic #3 from a plastic container.  The plastic you use needs to be straight, not curved and the shafts should be 6 3/4 inches long. Each shaft was cut ~3/8 inches thick.  Since each shaft is spaced ~1/4 inch apart I needed a total of 27 shafts.  Once cut, sand the edges of the shafts since we don't want the yarn to snag on any rough edges.

I then measured and marked the centre of each shaft and drilled a hole. It should be large enough for thick thread to pass through. I also smoothed out the hole with my Dremel so that the yarn can move freely in the hole.

Step 8: Heddle Continued

Lay out two of the wood pieces and arrange each of the shafts 1/4 inches apart.  The ends of the shafts should sit near the middle of the wood.  Check that the shafts are straight and the holes line up. Glue the remaining two pieces of wood on top of the shafts and wood (so that the plastic shafts are sandwiched between two pieces of wood on each end).  Hold together the wood pieces with clamps and allow the glue to dry.

Step 9: Shuttles

A ball of yarn is too large to pass back and forth through the shed so you can wrap the yarn onto a shuttle.  To make a shuttle I used the wood left over from the heddle. The wood you use should be fairly flat.  I cut a notch in both ends roughly 1/2in wide and 1/2in deep. I then sanded the shuttle with increasing grit sandpaper so that it is nice and smooth.  You can make several of these so that you can weave with several different colours.

Now we are ready to weave:

Step 10: Glossary

  • Warp - The threads that run lengthwise around the frame (also a verb -to wrap the yarn lengthwise around the frame). (image 1)
  • Weft  - The yarn that runs from side to side through the warp yarn. (image 2)
  • Shed - The separation of alternating warp threads to create a space to pass the weft through. (image 3)
  • Heddle - A tool used to separate alternating warp threads creating a shed. (image 4)
  • Beater- A tool used to push the weft yarn in place. (image 5)
  • Shuttle - A tool in which the weft thread is wrapped and passed through the shed. (image 6)