The Bumberet Family

More than two hundred years ago, John Hargrove published The Weavers Draft Book and Clothiers Assistant, a collection of fifty-two drafts for weaving. He points out in the introduction that the “weaving trade” has long been a mystery, since those in the business wanted their patterns kept secret. He remarks: “The secret has lately fallen into the hands of one who is willing that all concerned should share in the benefit,” resulting in this little book.

Alice Schlein, in an article in Weaver’s magazine, translated Hargrove’s drafting method into our own for four of Hargrove’s weaves: bumberet, velveret, thickset, and ducape, all of which can be woven on the same threading. The drafts she derived are shown here for three of these weaves.

Although all four are woven on a twill threading, they are not twills. In each of them, regularly placed floats create vertical and/or horizontal stripes or ribs, separated by threads that weave plain weave or produce shorter floats. The resulting fabrics are highly textured.

a. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Purple

a. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Purple

b. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Rust

b. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Rust


In bumberet, threads are grouped in sets of three (three on shafts 2-1-2 and three on 3-4-3). The three threads on shafts 3 and 4 form a chainlike rib on one side of the fabric; the three threads on shafts 1 and 2 form a chainlike rib on the other side of the fabric.

In velveret, varying lengths of weft floats predominate on one side of the fabric, warp floats on the other. None of the threads actually weave plain weave.

In thickset, varying lengths of warp and weft floats pattern both sides of the fabric.

velveret purple

c. (Face) Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Purple

velveret purple back

d. (Back) Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Purple

Velveret orange

e. (Face) Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Rust

velveret orange back

f. (Back) Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Rust

thickset purple

g. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Purple

thickset orange

h. Warp: Rust and Purple Weft: Rust


All three weaves invite experimentation with colors and yarns. If the same colors and yarns are used for both warp and weft, the resulting cloth is all about texture (ribbed or gridded). Using yarns in contrasting colors or thicknesses for the threads that float can create a variety of checked and striped patterns. Bumberet, especially, provides great opportunity to display special or novelty yarns (see Sarah H. Jackson’s vest fabric on pages 42–44; her draft uses a slightly different threading for bumberet, but the interlacement is the same).

In general, because the floats are relatively long (over 5 threads in velveret and thickset), warp setts should be closer than for a balanced plain weave. Notice that the same threading can produce a point twill. Try experimenting! In addition to twill, you can add to the bumberet family by using other combinations of plain-weave picks with float picks.


To view additional illustrations, please see: Handwoven January/February 2017, page 14. To read more posts by Madelyn, use the SEARCH box. Enter: “Ask Madelyn” or “Madelyn van der Hoogt” and browse the “Articles” results.

Hargrove, John. The Weavers Draft Book and Clothiers Assistant (AAS Facsimiles No. 2). Worcester, Massachusetts: America Antiquarian Society, 1979. Downloadable from

Schlein, Alice. “Bumberet.” Weaver’s, 3rd quarter, 1991. Sioux Falls, South Dakota: XRX, 2001.

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