Inlay – Moorman Technique

In Theo Moorman’s book, Weaving As An Art Form, she writes that the technique that was named after her is an easier alternative to the laborious technique of traditional tapestry weaving.  She describes several variations of the technique but the main idea is that the inlaid area is tied down to the ground weave by a tie-down thread that’s very thin and is hardly visible.

The weaving draft at the bottom is what I used to weave the samples and the pillow below.  The samples illustrate inlaid shapes and transparencies while the inlay in the pillow goes from selvedge to selvedge.  In all of these I used 5/2 cotton for the ground warp and weft and a much thinner yarn (20/2) for the tie-down threads.  Using a 15 dent reed I repeatedly sleyed 2 ground warp ends in 1 dent and 1 tie-down warp end in the next dent.

Inlay - Shapes

Inlay – Shapes

Inlay - Transparency

Inlay – Transparency

I wanted to weave something with texture so I gathered ribbons, thick and thin colorful and textured yarns as well as strips of fabric I found among my stash of fibers and odds and ends.  For the finished fabric to be sturdy, I inlaid these materials onto the cotton background formed by the ground warp and weft.  Below are images of the finished pillow as well as details of the front and back of the fabric:

Inlay - Pillow

Inlay – Pillow

Inlay - Pillow Front and Back Detail

Inlay – Pillow Front and Back Detail

Below is the weaving draft and a description of the threading and treadling order.  The placement of the inlay weft in this draft is noted as a very thick colorful yarn that goes from selvedge to selvedge.  However, as the samples above illustrate, the inlay weft can be thick or thin and can go back and forth freely without going all the way to the selvedge.  The lower part of the draft shows that without the inlay weft it’s just plain weave.

Inlay Draft

Inlay Draft

Inlay Threading and Treadling

For anyone interested, there is a pdf downloadable monograph by Karen Searle, “Moorman Inlay Technique for Rigid Heddle Frame Looms” on

UPDATE 2018:  Theo Moorman’s inlay weavings are considered to be a lampas weave.  You can go to my post about lampas to learn more about this fascinating weave.

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6 Comments on “Inlay – Moorman Technique”

  1. buyathread Says:

    Wow, Eva, great minds do think alike. My latest post is a sheep woven with inlay and it is inspiring me to do some experimenting, and so are your images.

    • evasweaving Says:

      Thanks Fern for stopping by. I looked at the “sheep” inlay on your blog and it’s beautiful. It’s done with much finer yarns than my samples here and is a wonderful example of the inlay technique.

  2. Eva,
    Isn’t discovering the Moorman technique exciting? Right away one starts thinking about all the possibilities. You can see the spirit of exploration in your samples. Might I suggest trying 20/2 tencel for your tie-down warp. I used 20/2 cotton for years and rec. this in our book. But now I’ve switched to 20/2 tencel because it is stronger and I like the lustre. So I’m now using this in all the student workshop warps I make.

    The one drawback is that 20/2 tencel isn’t available in dyed colors yet, but will be this summer from a Michigan supplier. I can’t easily look up this supplier as I’m on the road teaching. But she was on one of the weave lists in the last month talking about it. So for now, I’ve been purchasing 20/2 tencel and dyeing it myself.

    Nadine Sanders
    co-author of Theme & Variation: More Weaving That Sings, variations of the Moorman technique for clothing, rugs and wallhangings

    • evasweaving Says:

      Yes, Nadine, it’s an exciting technique with many possibilities. I agree that 20/2 Tencel would be great for the tie-down threads, and if you find a source that sells it dyed please let me know. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Francine Even Says:

    Do you know of anyone on the East Coast (I’m in Connecticut) who would teach the Moorman Technique. Just found out about it and fell in love.
    Thank you.

    • evasweaving Says:

      Nadine Sanders gives workshops on the Moorman Technique. Although she’s based on the West Coast, she travels a lot and recently she was giving the workshop as far away as England. Try her website for contact info ( It’s an amazing yet simple technique with so many possibilities.

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