Are you as drawn to textured pillows as I am? I love the way they add visual interest to a space and invite you in to get cozy and relaxed. Did you know you can weave your own? If you've already experimented with the basics of frame loom weaving, this will be an easy next step as you put those skills to work in other parts of your home besides your walls. If you've never touched a loom in your life, just grab the supplies listed below and follow the simple breakdown of steps, and you'll be well on your way to a beautifully handcrafted pillow.
I went with a black and warm white color story because it's so versatile to our home's color scheme, but I think this would look equally as fabulous in all warm whites or even tonal colors. Another opportunity to make your home uniquely yours because you get to be the designer!
–24" x 32" adjustable frame loom and weaving sword. You can also make something similar by nailing two rows of nails onto a piece of plywood that are about 18" apart and spaced 1/8" along each row.
-100 yards of fabric yarn in warm white (find similar here or here)
-300 yards of black cotton yarn for the fringe (find similar here or here)
-one 12" stick shuttle
-one 12" weaving needle (or smaller if that's what you have access to)
–one 3" plastic or metal tapestry needle
-18" x 18" pillow form (alternative down or real down)
Step One: Using your black cotton yarn, warp your loom so that it measures about 21" wide and at least 21" tall. My loom is adjustable, but I'm also not going to be weaving completely to the top. You can use any color cotton yarn here to add some visual contrast to your design or use the same color as the jersey yarn if you want less contrast. If you'd like further steps on warping a loom, read through this beginner's tutorial.
Step Two: Wrap another 8 yards or so of black cotton yarn onto your stick shuttle in a figure eight pattern as shown above. This allows you to weave longer lengths of yarn at a time and decreases loose ends to stitch in later.
Step Three: Weave your weaving sword over and under the warp rows and then tilt it so that it separates every other warp row. This will create a space for you to quickly pass your stick shuttle through your warp rows. It only works in one direction, but it does make quick work of weaving! If you don't have a weaving sword, you can use a yardstick. Pull your stick shuttle all the way through your opening, and then lay your weaving sword flat and push it to the top of your loom. Pull the yarn up as you pull it through until you have a 4" tail at the end where you started. Then pull the yarn down on the opposite side from your tail so that you create a little arch. Bat your arch down in the center with your fingers, a fork, or a comb, and then again in the center of each arch until you have batted all of the yarn down so that it's flush with the bottom of your loom. This keeps your rows from becoming too taut and pulling in at the sides.
Step Four: Then weave back in the other direction using your stick shuttle, but this time, you won't mess with your weaving sword. You'll just use your stick shuttle to weave over and under, making sure it's the opposite pattern of how you wove your first row. Again, create a little arch as you pull it through and then bat it down in the center, and so on.
Step Six: Weave eight to ten rows with your black cotton yarn. End on one of your sides and leave a 5" tail. Wrap it back around like you're starting the next row and end with it tucked to the back side of your warp.
Step Seven: Cut about 5 yards of white jersey yarn and use your fingers or your tapestry needle (you'll need one with a large eye) to weave eight to ten rows. This yarn can be stretchy, so be sure you aren't pulling too tightly as you weave. You don't want your sides to start pulling in and creating an hourglass shape. End on one of the sides with a 5" tail and then wrap it around like you're starting your next row, but then tuck it to the back of the loom.
Step Eight: Add in another eight to ten rows of black cotton yarn. Each of your sections of jersey cotton will be flanked with eight to ten rows of black cotton yarn on either side.
Step Nine: Wrap your four fingers 30-40 times with your black cotton yarn and cut once. This will give you 30-40 strands for your rya knots. You'll be cutting lots of these, so don't worry too much about keeping count—it just gets to be really uncomfortable on your hand if you wrap more than that.
Step Ten: You'll need ten strands for each rya knot that will make up your fringe. Center your group of strands over the top of the outer two warp rows (starting on either side of your warp is fine) and wrap the left side of your bundle all the way around the left warp row and the right side of your strands all the way around the right warp row. Then even things up so your two sides meet in the middle and gently pull down until your knot rests on the weft row below. Don't pull so tight that the two warp rows pull together. Continue cutting your strands and making rya knots all the way across your warp rows. You'll be trimming these up later, so don't worry too much about the length.
Step Twelve: Cut more rya knots and add them in (starting from the outer edge) but wrap them so that the ends wrap up and over so that you get an upside down rya knot. If this feels confusing, you can always just flip your loom upside down. Having a second row of rya knots that mirrors the first helps create a full fringe.
Step Sixteen: Finish your weaving with eight to ten rows of black cotton yarn. I used my 12" needle for this section because my stick shuttle wouldn't fit into the tighter space. You can also use your tapestry needle.
Step Seventeen: Gently pull a set of warp rows off the notches at the top of your loom, cut it at the top, and tie those two pieces in a double-knot to secure your weft row. Repeat with the rest of the warp row sets on the top and then the bottom.
Step Eighteen: Take a deep breathe, and then make a second woven panel! You'll start and end it with eight to ten weft rows of black cotton yarn, but then you'll just keep weaving your white fabric yarn. This will go much quicker! Just be sure you measure this panel to be the same width and height as your first one so that they measure up when you stitch them together.
Step Nineteen: Place the back panel on top of the front panel (the one with fringe) so that the right sides are facing each other.
Step Twenty: Cut a 5' length of black cotton yarn and thread it through your tapestry needle so that it doubles up. Start in one of the bottom corners and stitch between the knot and the start of your black weft rows on the front panel and the same place on the back panel. Tie a double knot to secure these two places together.
Step Twenty-One: Next, stitch between the second and third weft rows of white cotton so that you are also stitching between the first and second warp rows of black cotton. Pull all the way through so that your black cotton string is snug.
Step Twenty-Two: Wrap your needle from the back side again and stitch between the fourth and fifth weft rows but between the first and second warp rows. Continue stitching around in the same direction in between each two weft rows (where it wraps around the edge) until you get to the very top. Then tie a double-knot in between the black cotton yarn and the knot where you tied off your warp rows. This will mean you've secured one of your four sides.
Step Twenty-Three: I opened up my pillow panels so you can see how tightly these sides are stitched together so that you can't see big gaps in between.
Step Twenty-Four: Place the right sides of your panels together again and cut another 5' length of black cotton yarn. Tie another double-knot in the corner, and this time, stitch underneath each knot you made when you tied off your warp rows. Be sure you go through the same knots on both panels to keep things even. Pull taut as you go and tie a double-knot on the opposite end.
Step Twenty-Five: Stitch up your third side, and then leave your fourth side open.
Step Twenty-Seven: Pull your open end together tightly and thread another 5' of black cotton yarn. Tie a double-knot around the warp row knots just like in step twenty-four but tuck your tail end inside the pillow. Then keep folding your knotted ends down inside the pillow as you stitch under the knots. You can use a blanket stitch or a ladder stitch here. Since the black cotton yarn is the same as the black weft row yarn, your stitches will blend in. Keep stitching all the way to the end, tie a double-knot, and then stitch down into the pillow form and stitch back out about 4" away in any direction. Pull taut and then trim your cotton yarn before pulling back into the pillow form so it's hidden.
Once your pillow is stitched together, you can trim up your black cotton fringe so that it's more uniform. Don't get too crazy on this part, though. We all remember how our Barbie ended up looking after those cutting sprees when we were four years old!
I chose jersey yarn for the base of the pillow because it is so quick to weave with and extremely durable. With three kids and a dog, I needed something that wasn't going to fall apart in a week. The cotton fringe is also durable and won't shed all over your clothing. Should you want to make this a removable cover, simply add a zipper to one side before stitching the other sides together and wash it inside out in cold water. This is one sturdy pillow.
You can customize your size on a large loom to create floor pillows or something smaller and more decorative. You can also line this same design with canvas, add straps, and have a boho-chic oversized tote!
Interested in weaving but feeling this might be too big of a project to take on? Check out my new book, DIY Woven Art: Inspiration and Instructions for Handmade Wall Hangings, Rugs, Pillows, and More! Happy Weaving! –Rachel