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