How to Make an Inkle Loom and Weaving a Simple Band

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About: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write...
  • "Inkle weaving is a type of warp-faced weaving where the shed is created by manually raising or lowering the warp yarns, some of which are held in place by fixed heddles on a loom known as an inkle loom. Inkle weaving was referred to in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost." - Wikipedia

Inkle Looms are constructed with wooden framework in which wooden dowels are fixed to carry the warp threads. The position of one of the dowels at the end can be adjusted to alter the tension of the warp threads.

Here, I have made an Inkle loom with Plywood and PVC pipes instead of wooden dowels. I have used a wooden dowel for the end only for adjusting the tension of the threads. I have also demonstrated how to weave a simple band using this loom.

Please go through the instructable to see how to make the inkle loom with PVC pipes.

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Step 1: Materials Required

  • A piece of Plywood
  • About 5 ft long PVC pipe of 1" outer diameter
  • One wooden dowel. Here I have used a handle from a kitchen utensil (For the adjustable dowel)
  • A Nylon furniture foot pad with screw. This will be used to hold the adjustable dowel with the loom
  • A packet of white epoxy putty used in kitchen and toilets. This type of putty helps to fix PVC pipes with plywood and other material.

Step 2: Tools and Accessories

  • Dremel Ultra saw for cutting plywood. You can use any tool available
  • A hand-held drilling machine
  • A hole saw kit. I will be using 1" hole saw
  • Dremel Rotary tool with accessories
  • A Hack saw for cutting PVC pipes
  • Few "C" clamps
  • A Measuring Tape

Step 3: Cut the Plywood to Size

The width of the plywood piece available with me is 24 inches. So I will use 24 inches as length of the Loom

Marking on the Plywood

  • 24 inches by 3 inches for the long board : one piece
  • 12 inches by 3 inches for verticals : two pieces
  • 11 inches by 8 inches for front bottom
  • 8 inches by 3 inches at back bottom

Cut the plywood to required sizes using the Dremel Ultra saw or any other tool available with you

Step 4: Drill Holes on Plywood

Mark the center line on the sized boards and mark the center point of each hole

  • On the vertical members, the top hole will be 1-1/2 " from top, the middle hole will be 6 " from the center of top hole and bottom hole will be 2 " from the bottom
  • On the Long board, mark the center of hole at 14 " from end, where verticals will be fixed

Drilling Holes

  • Fix the 1 " diameter Hole saw with the Hand drill. Using Pilot drill bit will be helpful in drilling the hole at exact position
  • Place the marked plywood on another piece of soft plywood. This will prevent the pilot drill bit drilling through the work area.
  • Drill holes as required.

You can see the finished plywood pieces after this step in the last picture

Step 5: Make a Slot on the Long Board

A slot is required at the opposite end on the long board for the adjustable dowel. This slot will be about 5 " long and about 1/4" in width.

  • Mark the center of slot position leaving 1 " from the end. The slot will be centered at 3/4" on top of center of hole. Please see the first picture for reference
  • Using the Dremel Ultra saw or any other tool, cut the slot. The slot can be polished using the Dremel rotary tool

Step 6: Assemble the Plywood Boards

  • Place the long board on a level surface and mark the position of vertical boards on the long board. I have kept a distance of 11" between the outer edges of the vertical boards.
  • Drill pilot holes on the verticals using Dremel Rotary tool
  • Apply Wood glue on the both surfaces and fix with nails
  • Allow the glue to dry

The last picture shows the completed loom at this stage

Step 7: Assemble the Bottom Board

The 11" by 8" size board will be fixed just below the verticals

  • Draw a line so that it is half the width of the plywood
  • Drill pilot holes at intervals using Dremel rotary tool and hammer nails through them
  • Apply wood glue and place the skeleton loom over the protruding nails
  • Gently tap with a hammer and fix the loom with the bottom board

Step 8: Assemble the Adjustable Dowel

I have used a handle from a kitchen utensil to be used as the adjustable dowel

  • Cut the dowel bar to 7" in length
  • Drill a hole through the end so that a long screw can be threaded through it
  • Using the Nylon furniture foot pad, screw the dowel through the slot on the long board. By loosening the screw, the tightness of the warp can be adjusted easily.

Step 9: Assemble End Board

  • I have kept a 8" by 3" board to be used at the end below the adjustable dowel bar. Nail the board to the long board firmly.
  • I have also added few screws at the side of the bottom board for tying the end of warp threads

Step 10: Cut PVC Pipes

  • Measure the PVC pipe so that each piece will be about 7 " long
  • Cut the PVC pipes using a hack saw. We need 7 pieces of 7 " long pipes

Step 11: Assemble the PVC Pipes

  • The 7" long PVC pipes can be easily inserted through the drilled holes on the boards
  • Most of the PVC pipes fitted nicely without any gap, but few pipes are little loose due to drilling error.
  • Using white epoxy putty fill the gaps and allow the joints to cure.

Our Inkle loom with PVC pipes is ready. You can see the completed loom in the last picture

Step 12: Make the Shuttle

A piece of 3 mm thick plexiglass can be used to make the shuttle

  • Cut 6-1/2 " by 1 " size plexiglass.
  • Using the Dremel Rotary tool with Bristle Brush attachment, make one long end of the plexiglass to round shape and the other end to have beveled edge. The rounded edge will used to wind the weft thread and the beveled edge will be used to push the woven weft
  • Using the same rotary tool, make half-round shapes on both the edges, which will facilitate holding the thread without slipping

Our shuttle is ready

Step 13: Thread and Others

  • Threads of different colors weaving
  • Plain thread for making heddles
  • Few wooden ice cream sticks to start the weave

Step 14: Make Heddles

While warping, alternating yarns are secured in place by means of heddles made with thread.

  • By trial and error, find out the exact length of heddle required so that the yarn can be raised and lowered allowing enough shed for the shuttle to pass
  • Tie the ends of heddles

You need about half the total number of warp threads. These heddles can be reused again and again after finishing one project

Step 15: Start Warping

I have used Sea Green colored yarn to start

  • Tie one end of the yarn to the screw provided at the end board
  • Warp the yarn over the top pipes of both verticals
  • Now fold one heddle in half, bring it over the warp and insert through the pipe at the long board as shown
  • The warping of this yarn can be continued as per the length desired through the other pipes
  • The second layer of warp will pass below the top pipe and over the top of end vertical and follow the same pattern afterwards.

Step 16: Continue Warping

  • Continue warping with different colored yarns of your design so that each alternate warp will be secured with heddles
  • Pressing down the warp adjacent to the heddles will lower the unheddled yarn and create a shed through which the shuttle can be passed
  • Lifting the same warp will raise the unheddled yarn and create a shed alternate to the earlier one for passing the shuttle

Step 17: Finish Warping and Tie Loose Ends

  • After completing the warp, untie the ends of yarn secured to the screws and tie them tightly together. Do not leave any loose ends as this will loosen the warp and make it difficult to continue weaving

Step 18: Start Weaving

  • Wind the weft thread in the shuttle, so that the yarn passes over the round edge and the beveled edge is free
  • Press down the warp adjacent to the heddles and pass the shuttle through the shed and pull out the weft thread lightly
  • Now lift the warp and pass the shuttle through the weft.
  • While passing the shuttle, press down the weave with the beveled edge of the shuttle firmly

Step 19: Continue Weaving and Finish

  • Continue weaving by raising and lowering the warp with the help of heddles. You can add more yarn to the shuttle when the weft thread is finished.
  • Once the start point reaches the top pipe in front of heddles, you can not advance the warp further. Weaving of our band is completed

Step 20: Remove Woven Band From Loom

  • You can gently slip out the woven band from the PVC pipes (Dowels). The Heddles can be removed easily and can be reused.

Please see the woven band using the Home-made Inkle Loom with PVC pipes. The Weave may not be perfect, but I have learned something new.

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