There are several 14thC finds that seem to be garment fragments with tablet woven edges illustrated and described in the Museum of London book “Textiles and Clothing- Medieval finds from excavations in London”, by Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland. 4 of these fragments have tablet woven edges and no buttonholes, another 4 fragments have the woven edges plus buttonholes. I'm not going to place pictures here for copyright reasons, but here is a link to "the sleeve" which has the edging in question down the buttonhole side.

These edges appear to be done with four tablets, each with four holes, threaded alternately S&Z, with the weft stitched through the garment edge during weaving.

Personally, I'd say the use of this treatment would not be for all edges, especially not hems. It's time consuming, rather stiff, and tends to gather in the edge in question slightly. It's particularly useful for buttonhole edges, because the buttonholes were placed very close to the edge, without much reinforcing at the ends (no bar tack). It might also be useful for neck holes which do wear quite quickly, possibly fitchet openings? Certainly better for concave curved openings than convex.

How to do it?

The originals were done in silk. So far I have used #8 perle cotton. It's got a nice sheen, is a useful weight, less expensive and more available than silk. It comes in many colours though one tends to need a specialist embroidery shop to find the more interesting ones.

You need a longer warp than the edge you plan to weave on to. Say a 1m warp to do two 15cm sleeve pieces? the warp pulls up as you weave and there is a certain length needed to manipulate the tablets. The waste length can be used for tassels or something if you are of a frugal bent like me.

4 threads x 4 tablets = 16 strings, or 8 folded in half of course. Thread one string through each tablet hole. Change direction as you get to the next tablet. If you thread them all the same way, they will still form a nice edge, but will refuse to stay upright during the weaving. that way lies insanity.


We will work with the cut ends away from us (needed to untwist the warp). Set yourself up with a tie point stable enough for you to pull on quite firmly without moving. This time I used the lifting rings on a sash window. A working surface between yourself and the tie point is useful. I used my trusty ironing board. I like to use "temporary" knots so that undoing for untwisting is easy. They do need to be able to take tension though without pulling undone.

Tablet weaving tip: whenever the warp is slack, tie or clip your tablets together. Otherwise the possibilities for grief are multitudinous.

Now here I realise I'm missing a photo of the whole set up. I'll try to get one during the upcoming class.

The weaving is a few actions repeated adnauseum, or preferably until finished. This might be considered the start, or resting point. It's basically the same as if you had just sewn the end of the warp down to start. Holding the garment, pulling on the warp with enough tension to keep the card pack upright (without clip)

Then take your tablets in your right hand and turn them forward 1/4 turn. This will form a new "shed" or split between half the warp threads. Beat down the warp with the needle. Take visual note of where the needle sits against the garment when at the base of the warp.

Then take a stitch from back to front at that point

Then pass the needle through the shed.

Do that sequence lots of time until you have a woven edge.

(The turning of the cards makes twist both above and below the pack. You are trapping the twist in your weaving. The far side will accumulate that twist. Every few turns or so, clear the twist in the upper shed back to the tie point. This minimises the number of times you will need to untie to untwist.).

this is a pic of the edge from the side

and from the back

I feel I must show you too, a different sleeve of mine with slightly better weaving, and hand done buttonholes.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveRecommended order of operation:
-make or otherwise aquire your buttons
-work out how long the buttonholes need to be
-make the sleeves, with facings wide enough for the buttonholes
-sew your buttonholes
-do the tablet edge (can be done later, but not have buttons to catch on is a bonus)
-mark the button positions
-sew on the buttons.
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