Saturday, February 18, 2012

Selvedges Are Over Rated?

So this is what my right hand selvedge looks like on this fabric.  You can clearly see the pale green weft being carried up the selvedge and weft tails hanging out.

Does this bother me?  As I said in my previous post, the selvedges are going to be cut away in the end, so no, they don't bother me in the slightest.

For many years I wove yardage for a fashion designer who cut the fabric to sew her garments.  Did she care about the selvedges?  No.  What she cared about was that I wove the cloth as quickly as possible so that the cloth would cost as little as possible.  Since the time a weaver puts into the weaving is the largest part of the investment in hand woven cloth, every little time saving process I could institute was more money in her pocket at the end of the day.

I think that hand weavers get obsessed about selvedges because by and large most weavers do not cut up their fabric so their selvedges are there for all and sundry to see, not just themselves.  Selvedges are therefore an integral part of their cloth and so they want them to look 'perfect'.

As I've posted before, getting good selvedges is not a one-tip-fixes-all kind of thing.  There are several factors that play into getting good selvedges.

1.  Beam the warp under consistent tension using good packing materials.  Make sure the warp is cylindrical, not cigar shaped.  If the tension is too loose and packing material is not used, upper layers can cut down into lower layers causing all kinds of havoc during weaving resulting in poor weaving tension, not just at the selvedges, but within the body of the cloth.

2.  Try to be consistent about using the correct amount of tension for the yarn being used.  Too loose and selvedges will draw in, usually inconsistently.  Too tight and selvedge ends may break.

3.  Do not weave too close too the beater/reed.  As the fell approaches the reed the angle the warp threads open at becomes more acute putting stress on the threads and usually results in either broken threads or loops at the selvedge.

4.  Wind your bobbins well.  So many weavers have never heard of winding a bobbin by building up a 'hill' at one flange, then running the weft over to the other flange and building up a hill there, and only then filling in the valley between.   If this is not done the bobbin will jam in the shuttle cavity causing pulls at the selvedge and even broken selvedge threads from the repeated stress of the jams.

5.  Leave a good angle and ensure that the weft is not 'locked' into the opposite selvedge - make sure the weft is loose in the shed when beating to ensure the weft can take up and not cause excessive draw in.

6.  Be consistent advancing and tensioning the warp.  (See #2 above)

7.  Be consistent in beating.

Review my video clips on You Tube for bobbin winding and shuttle throwing/handling.
Laura's You Tube Channel
Currently reading Ian Rankin's latest - realized I'm running out of time before I leave so I'm going to read the two books I'm most interested in.  The others can be taken out of the library when I'm home again.


Dee said...

What a helpful post full of information I know I'll use.

Judith said...

Could you give some comments about
"draw in". What exactly is too much. Harriet Tidball says anything over 1/4" is not acceptable. If you have draw in but your selvedge threads arn't breaking is that OK? I guess I'm looking for a realistic benchmark!

Laura said...

As usual the answer is 'it depends'. :)

Generally anything more than 10% is considered too much, but it will depend on the warp yarns and how much stress they can take. A singles linen, for example, can't really take *any* draw in and a temple is advised.

But as soon as you notice selvedge threads breaking for no reason? Too much....