Friday, March 24, 2017

Should You Wet Finish Your Woven Band?

At first, when I started weaving, it never occurred to me that I should do anything to finish my bands once they were off the loom. They looked finished to me. Back then, I had no experienced weaver to tell me what to do and it was not mentioned in the books. Now, I almost always wet finish them.
This term may mean different things to different weavers. For me, it means putting them in a small bucket of water overnight. 

             On the loom                                                             After wet finishing

A term long-used in the weaving business is fulling, most often used when referring to woolen cloth. By wet finishing, the fibers are encouraged to shrink up and close the gaps between individual threads, making the fabric fuller.  If you look closely at the two photos above  you will see that the band has shrunken up a bit in the water, and the pickup pattern looks nicer because of it. The individual threads are not so much seen as individuals now, but are closer together, giving a more graceful line to the pattern.  Edit: the above band is woven from Omega Sinfonia cotton yarn. 

Another thing that soaking or washing does is allows the colors to bleed if they are going to. I have often been surprised by how much color comes out of the yarn into the water. To keep this color from being absorbed back into the band, I use the miraculous Shout ColorCatcher sheets. I buy them in the laundry section of the local supermarket and they do exactly as their name implies. Most of the time I find that half of a sheet works fine for one woven band. If a lot of color is bleeding out, I change the water a few times but leave the sheet in. I've often wondered how I could use these interesting dyed sheets in some way. Please let me know if you have ideas!!


  1. Thank you very much for this idea, very useful!

  2. Thank you for writing about wet finishing your bands. I've wondered if I should be doing so. As a weaver of tea towels and other items on a floor loom, wet finishing is just another step in the process. And yet, no one ever mentions it when referring to inkle or tablet weaving.

    But I haven't the faintest idea what to do with all those colour catchers. Perhaps they might be useful for crafts in a seniors' centre or kindergarten?

  3. You answered the question that many band weavers have. Thank you, Annie!

  4. Regarding the color sheets: press them smoothly, square them up and make origami figures; cut strips and make small quilts to be framed; make free-form art by tearing, folding, crumpling shapes and sewing or stitching to felt, etc. Just have fun!

  5. Why not make small weavings either on a loom or not. For a simple loom, use a piece of cardboard and pins to hold the warp onto the board. Cut strips of varying widths of the dyed sheets for the weft. These weavings make nice decorations for cards, etc.

  6. Does wet-finishing work for bands made with fibers other than wool?

    1. Lee Ann, yes! I hadn't thought to mention that the band in the photos with the Celtic knot was woven from cotton, so I just added that as an edit. About 90% of my bands are woven with cotton.