In many of our multi-shaft weaving patterns, you will see that they call for using a floating selvedge. Floating selvedges are an easy way to have more even selvedges with twills or other patterns. What is a floating selvedge? When should you use a floating selvedge? How do you add floating selvedges, and how do you weave with them? All of the answers are below! This post is for multi-shaft floor and table loom weavers, and is not applicable to rigid heddle weaving.
The selvedges are the left and right edges on the sides of your piece as you are weaving it on the loom. A floating selvedge is an extra warp thread on both the left and right side of your weaving, that is threaded through the reed but not through a heddle. It is called floating because every time you open your shed, these will appear to be in the middle, about halfway between the threads that are lowered and the threads that are raised.
When you are weaving a twill pattern, or other pattern that does not naturally capture the selvedge with every pick back and forth, using a floating selvedge will give you much neater edges. You do not need to use a floating selvedge with tabby weave, as the pattern naturally captures the selvedge with each pick. Using a floating selvedge with twills is easier and faster than having to hand manipulate the last thread each time you pass the shuttle through the warp.
When winding your warp, wind two extra warp threads. When winding on, don’t thread these through the heddles, just sley them through the reed on each side.
When you are weaving, pass your weft over the floating selvedge as you enter the shed with your shuttle, and under the floating selvedge as you exit it.
After a few passes, it will feel like second nature and you should get the rhythm of it. Some weavers find it helpful to add a bit of extra weight to their floating selvedges, to keep them tight. You can do this by adding a thread weight or other DIY way to add some tension to a specific thread on the back of the loom.
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This post is the second in a series introducing you to common weaving structures. You’ll find many patterns in Gist’s pattern collection that feature twill structures, and, like plain weave, it’s another foundation weave that has a lifetime of new and exciting combinations to explore.
If you are looking to try out a new art form, or if you are a multi-shaft or rigid heddle weaver interested in exploring another facet of the weaving world, this blog post introduces the equipment and yarn you'll need to get started with tapestry weaving.