Saturday, May 4, 2013

Slit Sewing 101....

Most of my designs have both vertical and horizontal lines and shapes in them. So, even after choosing the best direction to weave the image in (see this post for more about that) I usually have some vertical slits to deal with as I weave. If the slits will be long ones, I usually try to sew the slits as I weave, for structural strength, to keep shapes and edges from pulling in, and to keep the number of slits I have to sew after the tapestry comes off the loom to as few as possible.

Sewing a slit as you weave is not difficult. I don't sew little slits this way, because I would have to keep knotting the thread and beginning it again, which would really slow me down.

But this tapestry has fairly vertical tree trunks which go all the way up the tapestry, so sewing the slits as I go just makes sense. I weave an inch (or two or three), then I stop and sew the slits.

To sew the slit, choose a thread that is close in color to one of the colors on the tapestry slit edge. Thread the needle; knot the end of the thread, and tuck the knot through the slit to the back of the tapestry. Then slip the needle up through one of the slit edges, going just inside the weft, but NOT catching the warp thread. This is pretty easy to do when you get the hang of it. If you sew through the warp, you risk weakening it, and I hate broken warp threads! I sew up through that side of the weft/slit edge about 1/8th of an inch, then stick the needle back out. (See above photo.)

Then I do the same on the opposite side of the slit, going up inside the weft edge along the warp, and pulling it out.

I alternate sides, back-and-forth, up the slit edge. I move over when the slit moves over, continuing up the shape edges. You can see the thread between the slit edges in the photo below, because I have pulled the slit open a bit. But when you pull the thread taut, the stitching will not show at all.

If you are smart (and sometimes I am) you will sew your slits before you have moved too far up the cartoon. This is helpful, because, even on a large tapestry, you can sometimes reach your hand down behind the fell edge, and help guide your needle up the slit from behind.

When you have reached the end of the slit, or your thread has run out, make a knot in the thread that will be to the BACK of the tapestry, then pull a bit of excess thread into the nearby weft, pull it through,  and either cut it close to the front, or (preferably, if you can) cut it with a small tail hanging on the back.

Maybe you already know all of this. but I thought, as I was sewing slits on this tapestry, it would be a good time to share it with you. And if you have a better way, please let me know!


Rebecca Mezoff said...

This isn't exactly how I do my slits, but it looks like it works great. I am so right handed that I go up the weft on just the right side, hook around the warp to the left every two sequence loops, then back to the right side and up through the wefts again (and of course catching the warp on the right too). I find it quicker for me but your way is quite similar. I sew all my slits as I go. I can't face sewing them when the thing comes off. I have to make it a rule for myself, but am always glad I did at the end.

Janette Meetze said...

This is exactly the way I do my slits and it works on or off the loom but I have noticed that there seems to be almost as many ways to sew slits as there are tapestry weavers. It is interesting to learn about all the possibilities.

Josh S. said...

I'm going to be talking to teens about self worth, and finding your place in this big world, and I'm planning on using the analogy of threads in a tapestry. I would like to use some of your pictures as visuals, would that be alright?

K Spoering said...

Josh, let me know what images you are wanting to use first. It is possible that some of the resolution might be too small for your purpose, and I could get you larger images.
I appreciate you asking first! You can email me at kspoering(at symbol)

Vera L Hazelgrove said...

Wow! It is good to be able to see how you do it, - but I admit I don't sew any slits while I am weaving. It's probably self preservation since I am vision impaired having needles in the weaving would not work for me. I find it easier to do all the sewing afterwards.
It's great to see your progres, and hope your eyes will be better soon!!!

K Spoering said...

Thanks, Vera. I finally got in to see the opthomologist, and he found that I did indeed have an infection in them. They are improving now, and I hope it goes away to stay this time!!!

Mary said...

Can I just say I HATE sewing slits! I have tried on and off the loom and on definitely works better for me. But if I have a lot of needles hanging down I tend to get them tangled with the bobbins. Thanks for this explanation. It is very like the way we were taught recently and it is great to be reminded of the proper way to do it. I try so hard to avoid doing them that I have to look it up again each time I need them.

K Spoering said...

Mary, I'm not fond of sewing slits either. But I have found that I prefer it to weaving joins. Plus, I like the clean edge a slit gives, so I view it as a necessary evil! And I too prefer doing it while on the loom.