Weaving beautiful textiles from different types of fibers is a complex art, and textile weaving looms make it happen. No one knows when Loom weaving first started – we simply know that it existed since the time fabric became the material of choice to cover the human body. The different types of weaving loom that have evolved since the first crude textile looms have changed the way fabric have been made.
A Loom is the machine on which fabric is woven. The threads or yarns are interlaced lengthwise and width-wise in the weaving process. The lengthwise thread is called the warp, and the widthwise thread is called the weft. The warps are positioned lengthwise on a loom and wefts run crosswise. The interlacing of warps and wefts on a loom produces fabric. You can learn more about how fabric is made here.
In this article I will cover:
- Different types of Textile weaving looms
- Main category of looms
- Hand weaving looms
- Power looms
- Frame Looms
- Floor looms
- Table looms
- Circular loom
- Shuttle Looms
- Flying shuttle
- Main type of looms
- Rapier loom
- Water jet loom
- Air-jet loom
- Projectile loom
- Gripper loom
- Backstrap loom
- Warp weighted loom
- Draw loom
- Tapestry loom
- Inkle looms
- Rigid Heddle looms (Tabby looms)
- Multiphase loom
- Magazine loom
- Needle loom
- Swivel loom
- Box loom
- Jacquard loom
- Dobby loom
Different types of Textile weaving looms
Main category of looms
Hand weaving looms
There are mainly two types of looms – machine operated looms and hand-operated looms. There is no denying the convenience and ease of power looms. Powerlooms have made the textile manufacturing process prosper, but the machine’s capabilities limit the beautiful intricacy of the final product. With a hand-operated textile loom, there is no limit to the creative possibilities in textile making. But hand weaving looms are not commonly used in industrialised countries except for making specialised fabrics like tweed.
Power looms are mechanized looms. The shedding is automatically operated in such looms by the heddle or harness. The shuttle moves back and forth across the shed weaving an edge or selvage. With each passage of shuttle a device called reed that resembles a comb press the yarn to the fabric already formed. In a power loom the shuttle can move back and forth as fast as 150 to 200 times per minute. The power looms sped up the processes of textile manufacturing. There are automatic and non-automatic power looms.
This is a category of loom which is portable and with which wider and longer fabrics can be woven easily. It can be as simple as 4 bars forming a frame to hold the parallel warp threads.
Floor looms are used to weave larger projects – ie fabric with long lengths. Some floor looms can be folded for better usage of space. The floor loom has treadles operated by a weaver’s feet to control the shafts. This leaves the weaver hand free to use the shuttle. Some of the floor looms are electronically controlled to make sheds.
Table looms are very versatile as they can be folded and are portable. They can be placed on a table or stand. They are ideal for four and eight shaft weaving. Table looms use hand-operated levers for lifting various parts of the yarns to make a pattern.
It is used to create tubular clothing than flat clothing. In a Circular loom, a shuttle circulates the weft in a shed formed around the machine.
This is a category of loom with a shuttle to carry the weft thread through the shed. This loom is a little less efficient than shuttle less looms because the constant passage of shuttle can cause thread breakage, and noisy and slow operation of the loom.
This loom was invented in 1733 by John Kay. The fly shuttle looms increased weaving speed. In a traditional loom, a shuttle carrying the weft thread was passed through the shed with one hand and caught with the other hand before closing the shed and using the beater to pull the weft into place. This forced the weaver to bend forward each time over the loom to execute this process. The flying shuttle uses a board that forms a track for the shuttle to run. Once the shuttle reaches the other end, a simple mechanism is used to propel the shuttle on its return trip. The flying shuttle was one of the key development in the industrialization of weaving.
Shuttle less looms
This is a category of looms with the weft thread drawn from a stationary supply.
Main type of looms
It is a shuttle-less power loom. The rapier loom uses a hook system attached to a pole or metal band to pass the weft (pick) across the shed. It can reach up to 700 picks per minute.
Water jet loom
Water jet loom is a shuttleless loom. It uses water to transport the weft through the shed. This loom is used to weave only filament yarns as water is used. It is a high-speed power loom.
Air-jet loom is a shuttleless loom. It uses a jet of air to transport the weft yarn through the shed. The jets are electronically controlled. Air-jet looms can be used to weave plaid, dobby, or jacquard. It is the most popular loom.
The projectile loom is a shuttle-less power loom. It uses an object to propel the weft thread across the shed using a spring power. The weft yarn is carried across the width of the fabric by a series of reeds. The projectile is then removed from the weft fiber to be reused.
The gripper is a shuttle-less power loom. Mostly used for similar cut piles or tufted fabrics, gripper looms use metal grippers to grasp the weft yarn and insert it through the warp shed.
This is one of the oldest forms of looms. It is a simple portable weaving device and is still in use today. It has two sticks, of which one is attached to a stationary object. The other stick is attached to the weaver by using a strap around the back. The warp is tied between the two sticks. The weight of the weaver will keep the warps taut. This loom is used to weave simple to complex fabrics.
Warp weighted loom
The existence of warp-weighted loom can be traced back to the Neolithic period. It’s a vertical loom. In this particular loom, weights are hung which keeps the warp threads taut. Usually, warp threads will be wound around the weights. Once the weaver has reached the end of the warp thread, the additional thread is unwound from the weights to continue weaving.
The origin of drawloom can be traced back to China about 2000 years ago where it was used in silk and jacquard weaving. Draw loom had figure harness or hurdles attached to it which enabled the weaver to lift warps separately or in groups. This allowed intricate patterns to be woven. The drawloom was operated by two people, the weaver and an assistant, who managed the figure harnesses. Later in the 18th century in France, the drawloom was successfully mechanized, which removed the need for an assistant or the drawboy.
A tapestry loom is a frame loom where warp threads are held at high tension. This gives you an even clean opening or sheds for weft-faced weaving. This weft-faced weaving is ideal for weaving pictorial or abstract designs which need to completely cover the warp threads. There is evidence that suggests that tapestry loons have been in existence as far back as 1475 B.C.E in Egypt and/or Syria.
There are two kinds of tapestry looms – handheld tapestry looms and upright tapestry looms. The handheld tapestry looms are small and ideal for beginners who want to test their interest in weaving. But the fabric woven will be small depending on the size of the loom. The upright tapestry looms are bigger looms that can hold longer warps. They are used to weave wider and longer projects. They come with shedding devices which makes it easier to create openings to pass the weft threads.
Inkle looms are ideal for weaving warp-faced narrow projects like belts, sashes, ties, bands, etc. They are portable table looms on which warps are held in place by fixed heddles. The sheds are made by manually raising or lowering warp yarns.
Rigid Heddle looms (Tabby looms)
Rigid heddle looms are portable looms that are used with or without stands for two-shaft weaving. They have a firm frame called rigid heddle reed. The loom is very popular among craft/home weavers because of the simplicity and speed of operation.
The rigid heddle is constructed with slots and holes through which warp yarns are threaded. The lifting and lowering of rigid heddles create two sheds for passing weft yarns. You can use both thinner yarns and thicker yarns on rigid heddle loom.
The multiphase loom has several weft-carrying shuttles that can go through different sheds simultaneously. It can form different sheds at different places and enables the weft yarn to pass through the sheds one after the other.
It is an automatic loom. In magazine loom, an empty bobbin in a shuttle is automatically replaced by a filled bobbin without even stopping the loom.
It is a loom in which weft is carried through the warp shed by a long eye pointed needle.
In swivel loom, the shuttle is carried across the shed controlled by a swivel. It is used to make narrow fabrics such as ribbons or tapes.
Box loom has more than one shuttle boxes on one side or both sides of the weaving. It uses two or more shuttles that carry weft yarns different in size, twist, or color,- so you can have .
It is a mechanical loom used to produce brocade, damask, and matelasse fabrics with intricate jacquard designs. It is controlled by punched cards with punched holes corresponding to specific patterns – this keep track of the patterns; modern jacquard looms use computers instead of cards.
The dobby loom is a kind of floor loom. In this loom, warp threads are controlled using a device called a dobby. There are manually controlled dobby looms and computer-controlled dobby looms. A manually controlled dobby loom uses a chain of bars with pegs inserted to select the harness to be moved. A computer-controlled dobby loom uses electronic devices to select the harnesses. In this weaving the pattern stands out, producing a dobby weave.