What is Tapestry

Tapestry woven by Janna Maria Vallee, titled: Madeira Park, 2018

My name is Janna Maria Vallee and I’m the tapestry instructor over at the School of SweetGeorgia. I am beginning a series of tapestry weaving articles to accompany my SOS tapestry courses so that I may offer more ways to support you in your tapestry journey. Within this series of articles, I hope to answer some of your questions about tapestry, contextualize some of my video lessons to offer different perspectives, and just talk more about how to be creative within the medium of tapestry.

Teaching tapestry is a passion of mine and my hope is that between my online classes, the SOS forum and this new series of articles, I can fully support you in your ventures into tapestry weaving.

This first article is titled, “What is Tapestry?”. The answer to that question is simple, but in unloading each tapestry characteristic for you I hope to help you acquire the vocabulary (both visual and literary) to contextualize what tapestry is, what some basic characteristics of tapestry are and how to approach some basic tapestry skills.

What is Tapestry?

Tapestry weaving has two primary characteristics: (1) it is weft faced, and (2) it operates with a discontinuous weft.


Weft-faced fabric is characterized by the weft yarn being the only yarn that is visible once woven. This is achieved in tapestry weaving when the weaver passes the weft through the warp yarn (which the loom is dressed in), and packs down the weft to cover the woven warp yarn completely.


Weaving with multiple weft bundles operating in a discontinuous fashion allows for colour blending and shape building within the woven design. This means tapestry allows the weaver to create designs which are independent of each other, falling outside the confines of both the grid and the repetition found in multi-shaft weaving. In tapestry, weft bundles operate independently and never travel all the way from one side of the weaving to the other. Instead, the weft is discontinuous, turning around and doubling back on itself and on-top of other woven areas, inside the woven plane wherever the weaver’s design dictates.

Tapestry allows the weaver to project whatever image they design onto the loom. There are certain rules for setting up multiple weft bundles which are in place to allow the weaver to create pictures with the fewest technical hurdles. A design can be abstract, or representational, figurative or landscape. In my Fundamentals of Tapestry Course in the Blending Colours and Shapes sections, I show you how to set up your weft bundles in a “meet-and-separate” fashion to allow for such freedom in designing and weaving tapestry.

Click here to read the full What is Tapestry article over at the School of SweetGeorgia site!


*UPDATE: Also now available is the second article in the Building Confidence in Tapestry series: Tapestry Looms!



About Janna Maria Vallee

​Janna Maria Vallee is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in weft-faced tapestry woven with naturally dyed yarns. In her art practice she explores ideas of how personal growth can be either challenged or realized through one's perception of their surroundings. Janna attended Capilano University’s late Textile Art program and graduated with distinction from the Fibres and Material Practices program at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Janna lives with her family in Madeira Park, BC.

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