Want to start weaving, but need a loom? Learn how to make a frame loom with just a few things around your home.
I built my first loom with cardboard- and I LOVE it! It is compact and lightweight, and it was super easy to build. I have managed to weave several projects on it already and I can’t wait to keep using it. (If you would like to learn how to build your own cardboard loom, here is the post.) But, now I am interested in weaving larger projects and I look forward to having the option to weave several small projects on a loom at the same time. So, having a larger loom would be a great addition to my art arsenal.
One day when I was walking home, I saw an empty photo frame standing against a building wall in a giveaway pile. I immediately knew I could give it a nice, new home and repurpose it as my new frame loom.
To create a simple frame loom with nails, here are the steps that I took.
NOTE: This tutorial is a simplified version- because the frame is already intact, so the step of building the frame is skipped. Luckily, this was a discarded loom and in good shape. The structure and material are sturdy for weaving, which is an advantage to using a picture frame.
For this project, you will need:
a picture frame (of any size)
thin medium nails
tape (painter’s tape or masking tape)
a marking tool
a drill (optional)
thin cotton yarn (the type of yarn is optional- but select a yarn that is durable as your warp)
a thin flat piece of wood ( it should be longer than the width of your frame)
1. First, you must decided the which side/ length of the frame you would like to used. Most frames are rectangular, therefore one side is longer than the other. (If you have a square frame, skip down to step 2.)
Frames look something like this, right?
If you choose the longer side, the length of your weaving project will be shorter, but the width will be longer. This also means that you will need more nails.
If you choose a shorter side, the length of your weaving project will be longer, but the width will be shorter. Fewer nails will be use
Find the center of the two parallel sides and draw a continuous line down. This will guide the nail markings.
3. Following the middle guide line, mark every 0.25 inch (.6cm). The marking will start from the inner corner of the frame (not the outer corner). Find the center and begin marking. Continue marking every 0.25 inch until you have reached the opposite inner corner of the same frame side.
TIP: Adjust the spacing best suited for your project needs. 0.25 inch spacings will create a dense pattern. Before marking, consider if your pattern will use thicker or thinner yarns and the density of your desired pattern. For mild density, you can mark every 0.5 inch. For a looser weave pattern, which can be ideal for weaving thicker material, you can mark every 1 inch.
By marking every 0.25 inch, you will have the option to later adjust the spacing between the yarns while wrapping them around the loom. Therefore, if you later decide to have a wider space between the yarns, you can skip one or two nails when wrapping it around the loom nails.
Left: (Higher density) every 0.25inch has warp yarns. Right: (Low density) every half inch has warp yarns.
4. Create holes for the nails. (OPTIONAL, but recommended- if you are handy with a hammer, then you can skip to step 4.)
Note: Please be sure to take proper safety measures when using tools and if you need help using them, be sure to ask someone who knows how to use them properly.
Although, I find my skills with a hammer are normal, I didn’t want to stress the strip of wood by hammering all the nails straight in- therefore, drill in small shallow holes into each 0.25 inch marking.
5. Hammer the nails in every 0.25 inch marking on the parallel sides of the frame.
TIP: If the spacing between the nails is too narrow, hammer every other marking with a nail. Hammer them in a little deeper. Then, return and hammer the others. After you have hammered all the nails in, you can adjust their height.
6. Dress the loom.
The yarn used to wrap around the nails are called the warp. The process of wrapping the warp around the loom is called dressing the loom.
To begin dressing the loom, create a loop on the end of the thin cotton yarn. Secure it twice with a knot. Hook it onto the first nail.
Pull the secured yarn to the opposite side of the loom. Hook the yarn around the first nail. Pull the yarn back to the opposite side, and continue this to the end.
Around the final nail, wrap the yarn three times around and tie a knot. This will secure the yarns in place- be sure to tie it well.
TIP: As you are wrapping the yarns around the nails, the previously wrapped yarn may fall out of place. Don’t panic. There are two things that you can do.
Don’t panic if you lose tension or the yarn loses its placement.
1. Keep the tension tight. As you dress the loom, hold the yarn strand taut. If you find that the warp is loosening, adjust it until it is tight again.
2. Extend a long piece of tape over the nail heads to prevent the yarns from slipping off the nails. Once you have finished dressing the loom, keep a secure piece of tape over the nails to insure that the warp yarns will not fall off if they are loosened.
Tip: Most tapes will work, but try using painter’s tape or masking tape.
You can find more instructions for dressing the loom in a previous blog post, How do I make a loom out of cardboard?
You can also find more information and tips for preparing your loom for weaving in the post, 5 Steps to Set up a loom and Start Waving.
7. Weave in the shed stick.
When using a loom, your piece can have many yarns to keep organized and the tension of the warp yarns must be kept. Therefore the yarns cannot be moved too much. The more yarns the loom has, the more you must pay attention to the weaving pattern, so a shed stick will hold in place one pattern.
The long, thin wood is called a shed stick. Weave the shed stick into the warp. Start with the first yarn of the warp. Weave the shed stick under the first yarn and over the next yarn. Continue this pattern until you get to the end of the warp. Keep the shed stick in between the warp yarns that you just woven through. Center the shed stick.
(In this image, the shed stick has only been woven through a small portion of the warp yarns. Weave the shed through the entire area of the warp that you want to weave with.)
Now one side of the plain weave pattern is being held in place by the shed stick. Weft yarns are sent through easier.
For more weaving tips , check out my blog and video posts, here.
With these 7 steps, you will be weaving away in no time. I hope that I have helped you build your own frame loom from a picture frame.
You can take these steps and apply them to other objects around your home if you like. Just remember that the top and bottom of the loom must remain in place while you weave. I would love to see your weaving creation on your newly built frame loom!
What I enjoy the most about weaving and art is the process. There is a lot of trial and error and experimentation.
Above is a picture of some weaving on the wooden frame loom. It is a lot bigger than the cardboard loom that I created before, so more material and yarns to control. I really like it a lot and I am excited to experiment with density, shapes, and materials. Here I am using a T-Shirt yarn, and it makes such a beautiful matte texture. I will be sure to share more of what I learn along the way.
As always, thank you for visiting my page. I hope that this guide is helpful and you can use it to continue your artistic journey in fiber arts.