Changing Color in the Weft

Madelyn is away at Convergence this week so we’ve pulled a classic Ask Madelyn from our Weaving Today archives. This Ask Madelyn was originally published April 6, 2011.


I am weaving tartan and wondering what is the proper way to deal with changing weft color. Does one break and restart or carry the yarn up the edges. The latter works for a couple of rows but looks messy for 48. There has to be an accepted way. Can you advise please?

—Judy Packer

And . . .

I am often unsure about how to deal with making color changes in the weft—particularly if it is a project that requires many color changes. I usually cut and lap the next end over when using a fine weft but want to avoid ‘build-up ‘ on the selvedges. Is it better to carry the next color on the selvedge ? If so how is it done neatly? Thanks for your help—I really enjoy Weaving Today!


Hi Judy and Sybil!

There is no perfect solution or standardized method that works for every situation (you have to do whatever works best with your weft yarns and the order in which you are using them). If you are sewing with the fabric and will be cutting away the selvedges, it is best to let weft tails just hang at the selvedges (which I’m sure you’d realize). My choice otherwise is this: If there is one basic color that is used very often (or even two or three colors used often), I’d carry them up the selvedges but encircle them with the active weft so they don’t form loops. For colors that are used less often and farther apart, I’d take the tails around a floating selvedge and back into the same shed for both new and old wefts, doing this on opposite sides at each weft change if I were really particular. For fabrics that are relatively fine, such as most tartans, excessive buildup at the edges is usually not a problem.


P.S. Wondering about changing weft color for rigid heddle, without floating selvedges? Check out this free tutorial!

Updated October 4, 2017. If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn! Featured Image: Silk Scarves by Madelyn van der Hoogt in Best of Handwoven: Deflected Doubleweave eBook. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts!

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