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How to weave straight selvedge / edges?
Posted on: 7 Mar, 2019


Are you a beginner weaver and having a hard time keeping the edges of your weaving straight and consistent?

When I first started weaving, it was incredibly difficult to keep the edges of my work consistent. When edges are not consistent, they tend to make the project look sloppy or unfinished. With just a few corrections, your warp will be looking great again. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way.

If you do not have a loom yet and want to start weaving, you can find my tutorial for building a cardboard loom here.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

Tip 1: Check the warp tension.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

After dressing the loom ( winding the warp yarns around your loom frame), the warp will start loosing its tension. Think about it, these long fibers are only secured from the top and the bottom of the loom, and the middle section hangs with no support. While working on a project for a long period of time, check the tension of the edges often to insure they remain taut.

If you have noticed that the threads on the edge have fallen loose, then pull on the remaining yarns to balance the yarns. If you can not adjust the warp yarns by simply pulling on them, try tightening the yarns with a (short) popsicle stick or (broken) chopstick. Insert the stick between two neighboring strings at the top or bottom of the fastening point. When the yarns are loose enough, twist the stick between the two yarns and fasten it in place with a clip or tape.

In the tutorial post, How to make a cardboard loom?, I give detailed instructions to checking warp tension while dressing the loom.

Tip 2: Use bobbins or shuttles that are not too full.

10 Tips to weaving straight edgesAnother way to keep the warp yarns taut is to use bobbins or shuttles that are not too thick. Avoid wrapping them with too much yarn, so that it does not pull on the warp yarns as it moves through the weave. As the bobbins or shuttles move through the warp yarns, they are pulled and tugged- which not only effects the surrounding yarns, but also the edges.

Learn how to make and wind a paper stick shuttle in the How to weave? blog post and video.

Tip 3: Shorten project time

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

In conjunction with tip 1, you might also consider the time it takes to weave your project. Set consistent times to work on your piece so that it doesn’t hang on the loom too long. When working on smaller projects on a frame loom or smaller loom, the project probably won’t hang too long- but it might be difficult to adjust or tighten the warp.

Art takes time to create, so don’t rush, rather keep these factors in mind when working on a project. For 5 other tips on weaving faster, check out the blog post, 6 Tips to Weave Faster.

Tip 4: Pinch the edge of the previous weft yarn.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

By pinching the previous yarn strand, you will create an anchor with your fingertips for the yarn. This pinching action will help keep the weft yarns taut and straight. Avoid pulling the next yarn too hard and fast so that the other yarns are not disrupted and kept in place.

Tip 5: Weave the weft yarn on a diagonal.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

When you add a new piece of yarn to the weft, pinch the end of the previous yarn, then pull the yarn through the warp yarns and set it on a diagonal. Then, close the shed. When moving the yarns down, use a slow and constant motion. This will create a clean line and even pattern.After lots of sloppy lines and uneven consistencies in my weaving, I found that when using a long continuous motion to move the new yarn down to the other yarns, my line work looked better. Laying the yarns on a diagonal loosely, allow the yarns to move across the weave and it will not draw the yarns in.

Below: Another method is creating small mounds or hills to even out tension and pull between the warp and weft yarns.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

Tip 6: Gently pull on the warp edges.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

The key word here is “gently”. You do not want to pull too hard because you will lessen the tension of your project. Hold on to the left and right side of the warp yarns and gently release each strand.

This can be helpful when you have woven a new strand into the weave. The first few rows of the new work might be a little uneven, but this readjustment can relieve some inconsistencies in the weave.

Tip 7: Balance the yarn texture and thickness.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

If your piece uses yarns with various textures and you want the edges to be the same size, then pay attention to the pattern of yarn thickness that you are creating. Thicker yarns stretch the piece (and warp) out more, while thin yarns draw the warp in. While this can create interesting and diverse patterns, it can also effect the edges of the woven piece.

To learn more about weaving texture, be sure to take a look at the post  6 Weaving Patterns for Beginners, where I show how to do basic weaving patterns including soumak weave, pile weave and rya knots, which give lots of texture to your weaving.

Tip 8: Weave warp separators

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

Before jumping into your project, weave a few rows of yarn or tissue to stretch and even out the warp yarns. Often the warp needs a few rows to straighten up. Often the beginning of the warp is blocked by a piece of the loom and it can be hard to weave in this area. Therefore by weaving 1-2 inches of pre-project lines, the warp is easily woven with the weft yarns.

Tip 9: Beat the weft yarns consistently.

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

10 Tips to weaving straight edges

While weaving, be consistent with the pressure used to beat the weft yarns. The more pressure you use the denser the weaving will become. While the lighter pressure you use, the looser the weaving will be. Depending on the project that you are creating, the beating pressure will vary, however you should consider and monitor the edges as the project progresses.

To learn more about density and creating balance between warp and weft yarns, read more on this blog post, Weaving Warp Spacing: EPI low and high density. 

Tip 10: Measure your work10 Tips to weaving straight edges

Monitor your work by measuring the diameter of the weave often. Weaving accurately is not always easy and sometimes it can be hard to notice any inconsistencies of your work. Measuring the diameter of your work can alert you to issues and help you act quicker to solving them.


Here are the 10 tips for straighter weaving edges that I recommend. I hope that these help improve your weaving.

This piece that I wove after building a cardboard loom, was pretty consistent in width, however between the top and bottom sections there was a difference between .5 to 1 inch. Not bad, for the first woven piece in a while, but using what I have learned in this experience, I will continue trying to develop my weaving skill.

Thank you for visiting my site and stay tuned for more tutorials and projects.

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