What Is Flat Weaving?

Learn the basics of this type of weaving, its various techniques, and versatile uses

Industrial and textile designer Carolina Ortega (@carolinaorteg) creates contemporary pieces in traditional PVC weaving. She combines different textures, colors, materials, and shapes to create uniquely crafted pieces.

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Carolina Ortega
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Carolina Ortega

What is flatwork weaving?

Technically, in any textile, flatwork is the interlacing of two threads. The vertical rows are called the warp, and the horizontal ones are called the weft.

The warp is composed of strands, and the weft is made up of picks. Flat cord weaving is the inter-crossing of weft and warp.

In this diagram, the warp is red, marked as 1, and the weft is blue and marked 2.

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Wiki Commons

How does cord weaving work?

Depending on the materials and techniques adopted, you can create different types of flat cord weaving. For example, it can be used with backstrap looms, hand-woven home textiles, as an embroidery stitch, and, as in Carolina’s case, to weave furniture and decorative pieces.

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Decorative cushion by Tramarte
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Mexican textile worker using a backstrap loom. Jesús Tenorio Simón
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Carolina Ortega, PVC cord weaving
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Carolina Ortega, PVC cord weaving

You can create various shapes and patterns with flat cord weaving. An excellent way to plan your work is to draw the pattern you want to create in color by hand, You will then be able to easily change the colors in the weft and achieve your design.

To create her patterns, Carolina uses paper, colors, and an X-Acto knife. She can visually check how the warp and the weft will look as a whole. Cut out the yarns of the weft individually and recreate the pattern by weaving through the warp, which you can fix to a surface (and that you can cut leaving an upper part intact).

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Process for creating a pattern, Carolina Ortega
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Process for creating a pattern, Carolina Ortega

This exercise is perfect for familiarizing yourself with the process you will use later when completing your project with the real materials. Carolina reminds us that this is a process that requires patience and care, focus, and attention, but it is not difficult.

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Process for creating a pattern, Carolina Ortega

Basic types of flatwork weaving

The following are some common types of flatwork weaving:

The oldest and most straightforward type, it is ideal for beginners. It consists of a one-by-one frame technique; that is, you weave one pick of the weft through one strand of the warp a time. A variant is two frames by two.

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This technique gives the weave a diagonal look. You will need to follow the pattern carefully to achieve this.

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Satin or sateen
There are various types: regular, irregular, or mixed. As you can see from the diagram, you will need to alternate more strands of the warp with the weft.

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The combinations of materials, colors, and patterns you choose will create various cord weaving pattern designs. Here are some examples:

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Hand-Loom weaving. Mattie Phipps Todd
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Bracelet Book
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Kandi Patterns
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If you want to learn to create your own decorative pieces, sign up for Carolina Ortega’s course Introduction to PVC Cord Weaving.

You may be interested in:

- How to Make a Lucky Knot.
- How to Create a Decorative Tassel.
- Weaving Tutorial: Macramé Carpet Knot.


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