Links of Interest

Illuminated Threads Projects:
Hand Piecing Quilt (1st project)
Civil War Quit (2nd project)
Technique Block of the Month (3rd project)

Antique Pattern Library
(hundreds of public domain books with patterns and how to's for crochet, knitting, embroidery, tatting, etc, from tht 19th and 20th centuries)

On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics
(Books on weaving, textiles and related topics for free download)

Costumers Manifesto

(site with tons and tons of information about how to and where to get historical costumes and patterns)

Russian Join
(How to do a Russian Join which allows you to join yarn strands together seamlessly.)

You Tube
videos and how to instruction for many of the techniques covered by this guild

Chandler Cottage
Needlework and knitting supplies in San Angelo

Other Techniques
Sewing and Sewing Machines


Quilting is the layering together of cloth which is held in place by stitches or ties. It has been around as long as people have needed to keep warm. Simple piecing, whole cloth and applique quilting existed before the Dark Ages. The elaborate patchwork patterns that we usually think of as quilting today began in the late Middle Ages around 1600.

Sometimes a layer of poor quality wool that was not suitable for spinning was used as batting or filler between the layers of fabric for warmth. A variety of other materials including straw was also used for this purpose.

Quilted fabric was used for clothing, bed coverings, wall coverings (to keep out drafts), rugs, as padding beneath armor and in some cases as the armor itself.

Quilting became very popular during the colonial and Victorian Eras as well as on the American frontier. The patchwork patterns we know today came from the practical necessity of reusing expensive fabrics. It was also a creative outlet for women struggling to survive on the frontier. The Victorians added much embellishment and embroidery to quilting and created the crazy quilt.

While quilting is no longer a practical necessity in large parts of the world today, it is still a very popular past time and is considered an art form.

Types of Quilts and quilting techniques:

Whole Cloth Quilts are simply 2 whole pieces of cloth stitched together. It may or may not have batting. In some areas this type of quilt was sewn with embroidery stitches and in others a simple running stitch or back stitch was used. Linen and cotton were the most common fabrics for the top and the backings of the quilts. It was for a very long time, a sign of a person's status or wealth if they could afford to have quilts made from large pieces of cloth.

Applique Quilts have other, pieces of cloth, leather or cords applied to the surface of a ground fabric.

Pieced quilts involve the entire top of the quilt being sewn from small pieces of usually square or rectangular shaped fabric. Often cloth or decorations on fabrics were reused from older items that had outlived their usefulness.

Stuffed Work or Trapunto Quilts involve sewing around an area and then stuffing that area with padding.

Intarsia or Reverse Applique quilts involve cutting away sections of the top fabric to reveal the fabric beneath.

Hand Piecing 101 - Handout for class

Applique 101 handout for class

Quilting Basics handout for class, covers quilting, putting the quilt together, building a quilt frame, etc.

American History of Women and Their Quilts

World Wide Quilting Page

Electric Quilt Company


The earliest loom known is the Warp Weighted Loom. It was used all over the world from the time of the earliest recorded history. It was pictured frequently on Greek pottery and is currently still in use in a few homes in Scandinavia today. The weights suspended at the bottom of the warp threads maintain the tension necessary for an even weave.

The multi-harness loom was invented around the first millennium and it's use spread quickly throughout the world. This loom has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries and is still the basis for looms today. The various harnesses are raised and lowered by treadling foot pedals on the floor that were connected to the harnesses through pulleys or a series of levers. In the earliest of this type of loom, the harnesses may have even been raised and lowered by a helper, sitting up on top of the loom in some parts of the world.

Rigid Heddle Weaving is a process where a paddle or wooden frame is used to thread specific warp threads through so that certain threads can be raised or lowered at a time. More than one heddle may be used to allow for multiple harness weaving. Unlike the multiple harness loom, there are no treadles or levers, each harness must be raised by hand. This process may be used for creating wide fabrics or narrow bands.

Tapestry Weaving consists of a variety of weaving techniques used to create pictures or designs on fabric. Usually a simple frame loom is used to hold the warp threads under tension while the weaving is taking place. Many colors are used to create the elaborate patterns. Woven tapestries were used for wall hangings, rugs and decorative bands among other items.

Tablet Weaving or card weaving was commonly found from the Bronze Age to the 16th century. Tablets were used to make decorative bands of cloth and to form selvages at the edges of loom woven cloth. Tablets were often made of leather, bone or wood and had from 2 to 8 holes. Patterns are made by turning the cards forward and back in various increments with different colored threads threaded through the holes in the tablets. Rather than using a loom, this method of weaving was often done by tying one end of the warp to a stationary object and the other to the weaver's belt or waist. Tablet woven bands were used for trim, belts and straps among other useful purposes.

Inkle Weaving is a centuries old method of producing narrow bands of cloth for use as belts, bridles, trim and the like. During the Middle Ages, inkle bands were made using the back strap weaving method in which one end of the warp was tied around a stationary object and the other end around a belt or the weaver's waist. The pattern was made by using a paddle with holes in it (see rigid heddle). The bands themselves created by this method were called "Inkle" and that was the name adopted for the entire method of production. Today, most inkle weaving is done on an American Inkle Loom which was invented during the Arts and Crafts period in the early 20th century. This loom eliminates the need for the paddle or rigid heddle and allows the work to be set down easily.There are many, many places on the web to buy inkle looms and shuttles. Ebay is not recommended unless you are buying a name brand loom. The others are all hand made and many of them do not work overly well. The main brands of inkle looms are: Beka (reverse tension), Schacht (tension on front peg) and Ashford (shorter dowels and front tension)

Sprang is a technique used to make very stretchy or elastic fabric. It involves twisting the various threads to form a net-like pattern.

Finger Weaving was undoubtably the earliest weaving technique. Finger weaving is a process where individual warp threads are manipulated to form patterns. This technique can be used for something as small as a braid or a band or as large as a piece of fabric.

Stick Weaving is a simple technique usually associated with Native Americans but they were not the only people to use this process. Hollow sticks or needles were used to hold the warp threads while the weft thread was woven, in, out and around each needle or stick. this process can be used to create wide fabrics or narrow bands. It is most commonly used for narrow bands.

Tape looms were used during the colonial period to create narrow bands for trim and other purposes.

With the Industrial Revolution the making of fabric largely moved to the factories. Women on the American frontier were not generally weavers, they bought their fabric at the dry goods store, although specialty weaving such as for specific clan tartans, rugs and bands or trim and the like did occur in the home, but it was rare. After the Industrial Revolution home weaving of fabric was a specialty art, though band weaving continued for the purposes of trim and practical straps for some time after. larger looms were and are often employed for the purpose of rug weaving.

On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics

(Books on weaving, textiles and related topics for free download)

How to Read a Weaving Draft and How to Read a Tartan Pattern
(class handout - just what it says, explanation of how to read a pattern draft and a tartan sett)

Tartan Generator
(Program that allows you to create your own tartans, program also includes tartan setts for many, many registered tartans.)

Card or Tablet Weaving
(class handout - making a loom and cards and basic instruction)

Guntram's Tablet Weaving Pages
(patterns and a nifty program for designing your own patterns)

Stick Weaving
(class handout - How to weave a belt with soda straws)

Building and Using a Warp Weighted Loom
(building a WWL from 2 by 4's or PVC pipe, also basic instruction for warping and use)

Experiments with a Warp Weighted Loom

Earthguild Instructions

Schacht Instructions

Beginning Inkle Weaving

Wikipedia article on Inkle Weaving


History of Embroidery in America

Embroiderer's Guild of America

Needle and Thread
(Hand Embroidery Patterns)

Needle Crafter
(Hand Embroidery Patterns)

Sharon B's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches
(how to do embroidery stitches)

Needlework Tips and Techniques
(Basic Embroidery Stitches)

Victorian Embroidery and Crafts
(embroidery stitches and other information)

Maaseik Embroidery
(text with links to pictures, mostly black and white)

Maaseik Embroidery
(a few color pictures and some text)


Crochet is a technique of making fabric from loops with a hook instead of some sort of needle. The earliest crochet probably dates to the very late Middle Ages. There is some controversy as to whether or not crochet was actually done during the Middle Ages. If so, it originated with Catholic nuns in France. However, recently, a piece of Egyptian thread work which is obviously crochet has been dated to between 900 and 1100 AD and is a complex ripple pattern believed to have been used as a curtain or room divider. This seems to indicate that crochet may well have originated farther east and traveled down the silk road and been transported to Europe during the later Crusades. Crochet became hugely popular during the Victorian Era with many patterns available for doilies, dresser scarves, bedspreads, clothing decoration, afghans, shawls, trim and edgings. Crochet was popular on the American frontier and remains hugely popular today.

Crochet Pattern Central
Free Crochet Patterns - thousands of free patterns

Queen of DIY
help with chosing hooks and thread particulary for vintage patterns

Vintage Crafts Patterns Designs
more help with chosing hooks and thread for vintage patterns.

Crochet Guild of America

Victorian Crochet

Hooks in Texas
State Wide Crochet Conference
Tunisian Crochet site, how to's and patterns


Needle Knitting by hand has been around for at least a couple thousand years. In the late 1500's a knitting machine was invented but Queen Elizabeth refused a patent for it because she feared it would replace the hand knitters. Professional knitting in the later Middle Ages was done by men in knitting guilds although women knitted as well.

Peg knitting is done on a round or rectangular loom-like device. the peg board or knitting rake has not been dated as to it's time of invention but probably predates the knitting machine. An account of a German textile guild in 1618 mentions that only a certain number of peg frames would be allowed in a master knitter's workshop. Obviously, peg knitting did exist during the Middle Ages if there are guild regulations concerning their use even if the archaeologists haven't yet gotten around to dating the device. the knitting produced on a peg frame is indistinguishable from needle knitting and it is theorized that several large rugs from the 1700's may have been made on peg frames, really, really big peg frames.

Knitting was widely done on the American frontier and continues strongly today.

Knitting 101 - Class Handout

Knitting Pattern Central

Knitting History

Historic Knitting Patterns

Building and Using a Knitting Board
(how to build your own frame and basic instructions for double knit)


Tatting is a process where a shuttle or a needle is used to make lengths of lace-like rings and chains from a single thread. Tatting has not changed much through the years and is still done by these same methods today. During the Middle Ages there is evidence of tatted rings but not chains, nor is there evidence of picots used during the Medieval period. However, most of our evidence for tatting comes from paintings which may or may not be accurate.Tatting reached it's height in popularity during the Victorian era with many patterns available for doilies, collars, trims and edgings, dresser scarves, etc. Shuttle tatting began during the Middle Ages. It is unknown when needle tatting began. The two methods are indistinguishable from one another. Tatting is still done today though not as popular as it was during the Victorian Era. Tatting was also popular on the American frontier.

Tatting History

Civil War Tatting article

Tatting Patterns and instructions at Be-Stitched


Spinning is the art of twisting fiber into yarn or thread.

Before the invention of the spinning wheel in the 13th century, all thread was made by either hand turning a distaff or by using a spindle for suspended or drop spinning. Spinning by these methods all over the world has been unchanged for millennia. Thread is still made using all of these methods today.

It is said that it takes 7 spinners to keep one weaver busy.

Joy of Handspinning
(spindles, wheels, how to's, etc)

How to ply using a drop spindle
(class handout - Note: This method may also be used to make cord.)

Braiding and Cord Making

Lucet Braiding - The lucet is a two-pronged device, sometimes with a handle and sometimes not, for making very strong cords to be used as lacing, drawstrings, bridles, trim, straps, handles, etc. Lucets were commonly made of wood or bone and date back to the Viking era. They were commonly used throughout Europe until the Industrial Revolution, when it became more practical for machines to take over this work. Sailors used this same method and a much larger device to make the heavy ropes necessary for rigging and use aboard ships.

Kumi Himo Braiding is mostly commonly associated with Japan where it was used for making elaborate braids to hold a Samauri's armor together and is still used for braidmaking in Japan today. however current evidence suggests that such braids were also made in China, India and as far west as Ancient Greece. Kumi Himo braiding involves a round platform with a hold in the center through which threads are dropped and then spools are draped over the outside. The braid forms as the various threads are rearranged.

Fingerloop Braiding is a method where loops of thread are held on the fingertips and passed from one finger to another, through and around the various loops to form small braids or cords. These cords were used as drawstrings, trim and the like. Unlike the lucet which produces a stronger cord of unlimited length, fingerloop braiding is limited by the length of the braider's arms. This method of braiding reached it's height between 1200 and 1600 in Medieval Europe and England, though it still survives today in isolated areas of Europe, the Middle East, South America and Japan. And preteen girls making friendship bracelets.

Lucet Braiding
(class handout - making your own lucet, basic cord instruction)

Using a Drop Spindle to Make Cord
(class handout - how to ply with a drop spindle, good for short cords, instructions for 2, 3 and 4 strand cords)

Braider's Hand
Source for kumi himo equipment

Fingerloop Braiding

Fingerloop Braiding

Other Techniques

Naalbinding, also called Viking knitting among other names, is a fabric technique using a single needle to sew a thread into elaborate loops. Unlike many forms of weaving, fabric made by naalbinding is very stretchy, like knitted fabric. In fact, there is a naalbinding stitch that produces a fabric virtually indistinguishable from a needle knitted one. the blanket stitch is the simplest form of naalbinding. The stitches are not pulled tight but have some tension. the fabric formed appears net-like when stretched. the name "naalbinding" from Scandinavia where it was prevalent during the Middle Ages but this technique has been found to exist all over the world. The earliest examples of naalbinding that have been found, date to c 6500 BC. Naalbinding needles are often made of horn, bone or wood.

Phiala's String Page
(Basic naalbinging instructions)

Naalbinding Resources

Sewing and Sewing Machines

(information on old and new machines)

Sewing Machine Shop
(Links to sites about cleaning up and maintaining a treadle head)

Vintage Sewing Machine Repair and Parts

Singer Attachments
(with instructions and reviews)


Clotilde (sewing supplies)
Connecting Threads (Quilting and needlework Supplies)
Earth Guild (weaving supplies and small looms)
Keepsake Quilting (quilting supplies)
Lacis (historical needlework and weaving supplies.)
Quilts and Other Comforts (Quilting and needlework supplies)
Schacht Spindle Co (shuttles, looms and other supplies)
The Woolery (weaving supplies)
Yarn Barn of Kansas (videos to buy, yarns and threads, quantity discounts, shuttles and looms)

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