More on Floating Selvages

Marcy Petrini

May, 2023


Last month I talked about instances when floating selvages may be needed and when they are not helpful. For all the other grey areas, we saw how we use a drawdown to determine whether floating selvages should be added.

Some questions arose: How about unbalanced twills? What happens with more than four shafts? What about weaving with two wefts? Good questions. Let’s examine those.


Unbalanced Twills and Satins

Below is the drawdown for a 1/3 twill. Without even doing the analysis of the drawdown, we can see that we have three wefts in a row at each selvage. Floating selvages are needed.



Here are the two sides of the fabric.



A 1/3 (or 3/1) broken twill has the same characteristics. It is often called a false satin, which it resembles.

True satins require at least 5 shafts. They, too, need floating selvages. The drawdown below shows four wefts in a row at each selvage.



Here are the two sides of the fabric.



Eight-Shaft Twills

Many multi-shaft twills require floating selvages, but, if unsure, we can use the same method we used for four-shaft twills (see the April 2023 blog for a refresher).

Below is the drawdown of a 3/2/1/2 straight twill. If we start the analysis going from the left to the right, we encounter two wefts together at the end of the first pick and the beginning of the second. If we start the analysis from the left to the right, we encounter two wefts at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth pick.



The fabric is below:



Pointed twills on eight shafts similarly require floating selvages. Twill blocks are usually made up of weft-dominant and warp-dominant twills, so they, too, need floating selvages.


Rectangular Float Weaves

Many rectangular float weaves – grouped weaves and unit weaves –have a threading for plain weave selvages on four shafts, which can be extended to more. These do not require floating selvages.

Below is a simple drawdown showing the two blocks of grouped weave huck on four shafts; the threading on shafts 1 and 2 produces plain weave down the selvages.



In the drawdown there are four threads on each side, but it could be more or less, as long as the 1, 2 order is maintained. The fabric below has a 30-thread selvage.



The same threading sequence of shafts 1 and 2 produces a plain weave selvage on the 8-shaft huck as shown in the drawdown below. Floating selvages are not needed.



Bronson Lace has similar characteristics. It is a unit weave since both blocks can be woven together, as shown at the bottom of the first drawdown, Alternating shafts 1 and 2 in the threading produces plain weave selvages, obviating the need for floating selvages. This is true for the four-shaft version in the first drawdown as well as the eight-shaft version in the second.



Weaving with Two Wefts

To avoid floating selvages when weaving with two wefts, we can catch one weft with the other by placing the shuttles in order.

For example, right now I am weaving double weave using Jennifer Moore’s squares. I want my selvages joined. I could use a floating selvage, but this is what I do instead: I use a yellow weft for the top layer; I use a blue weft for the bottom layer. When I am done with the second pick, I place the shuttle with the blue weft in front of the shuttle with the yellow weft. At the subsequent pick with yellow, the blue weft is caught at the selvage in the loop of the yellow weft. This happens on both sides of the cloth.

How we position the shuttle with the weft to be caught depends on what we are weaving, how many colors, and the color order. At the beginning of the weaving we can determine the position needed to catch the weft; we then proceed consistently for the rest of the weaving.

Happy weaving!