Fibre Crafts ZA                                                                                                                           October 2011
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Weaving on a Box
Louise Lubbe
Weaving without a loom!. Boxes and books can be used as the basic shape for creating bags.
The most delightful aspect of this method of weaving is the mobility of the project. Anywhere. Anytime.
Tapestry and rug-weaving methods are the most appropriate techniques to use.
As an incentive and to show just how versatile this method can be, here are some beautiful small bags.
Note the warped book on the bottom left used as the loom for these bags.


Any sturdy cardboard box can be used – choose one to suit the size of bag you would like to make.  Wine boxes are very suitable as they are nice and strong and the size is just right.
Fold the flaps of the box to the inside for extra strength. 7 mm from the top edge of the folded flap, and at ¼ inch or 5 mm intervals, mark the position for the warp thread slits to be cut. There must be an uneven no of slits (in total) so that a continuous tabby technique is possible. Pierce both layers of the folded edge with an awl at the marks. Now slit the edge from pierced hole to free edge to hold the warp in position. This is easily accomplished using a small knife or blade with a sharp point.
The warp thread needs to be smooth and sturdy. Stretchy or fluffy warp will not do. It needs to be about half the thickness of the weft. As a box cannot support great tension, the warp tends to show, so use something to complement the planned weft.

Long sides of box:
Start warping in the top corner of a long side of the box. Secure the “tail” of the warp with a knot, or tape the tail to the inside of the box.

Work from one warp slit, down the outside of the box, across the bottom of the box, to the corresponding warp slit on the other side. (shown in the illustration). Make sure to anchor the warp firmly in the slits. Continue to work in this way, keeping an even tension, until you reach the far side of the box.

Short sides of box:

This is where the first magic occurs. While you are warping the short side of the box you are also weaving the bottom! You will be using two different threads now…continue with the warp thread used for the long side, and we will start adding weft threads in between the warp threads.

Warp thread
To prepare for warping the bottom and short sides of the box, first measure, from the ball of yarn, the length you will need. That is, from the warp slits on one side and over the bottom of the box to the warp slits on the other side of the box. Count the number of warp slits on the short side of the box. Multiply by the length from warp slit to warp slit. Cut the length required from the ball.

Secure the warp to the first warp slit on the short side of box (knot or tape on inside). Now weave tabby across the bottom of the box.

Hook the thread around the first slot on the far side edge to secure while weaving two shots of tabby on the bottom of box as follows:
Use your weft or “fill in warp” yarn
This should be thicker, coloured, and soft enough to pack easily, you can also use several thinner threads together. Weave two shots of tabby on the bottom of the box directly adjacent to your first shot of woven warp thread.

The thick weft thread is used to space the strong warp threads and to fill the gaps between warp threads. If you need to, you can weave three weft sheds before weaving the next warp thread.
Now return to the warp thread anchored at the edge of the box. Use it as the second warp for the short sides of the box, weave tabby across the bottom and use it as warp on the opposite short side of box. Anchor again around the next slit in readiness for weaving the next two shots of thick weft.
Continue in this way until the bottom of the box is covered.

To make a nice sturdy base, make sure that the warp and weft is tightly packed.

After the bottom of the box is covered, use a stem stitch (Soumak), to edge all round the bottom of the box.
 The thickness should be the same as the fill in weft threads.

You now have a box with a sturdy woven bottom and warp around all four sides!

Now the real fun begins, you can stretch your creativity as you weave up the sides. Before starting with designs first weave several shots of plain weave around the entire box. Once you have a ground weave, you can proceed as you like. Continue to work all around the box.

Here a tapestry cartoon has been inserted and the weaver is in the process of weaving the design.
This bag is being woven around a box file cover. It uses a combination of tapestry and plain weave techniques.

Rug weaving techniques are perfect for the bags.

Here are some ideas that come from my carpet sampler.

Pack the last weft threads in tightly. Now make a thick cord by twisting 3 weft threads together. This will be inserted into each loop of remaining weft as you take your bag off the box. The cord must be slightly longer than the circumference of your box for ease of working. I find that a crochet hook works well to hook the warp loop off the top edge of the box and to coax it over the final thick weft cord. This gives your bag a sturdy and straight edge.

You can line your bag with lightweight commercial fabric. Add woven straps, a pretty clasp or buckle, tassels, shells, memento’s etc.

The bag I am working on right now might just turn out well enough for me to take it to a handbag manufacturer and to ask them to finish it with a good zip and leather edged handles.

Enjoy your weaving! This is a small fun project to try all the odd yarns, techniques etc. Something you can’t do when engaged in serious weaving!

Louise Lubbe is a member of the Pretoria Weavers’ Guild (Facebook).