Rug Weaving Techniques

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Rug weaving is both art and craft, requiring great attention to detail from the weaver. In this lesson, we will discuss rug weaving techniques such as slitweave, dovetailing, and soumak, which are commonly used in the making of flatweave rugs.


Rug weaving is an ancient art and craft that has been perfected by many cultures, including the Turkish. One style of woven rug is called a flatweave, or a kilim. Flatweave rug weaving dates to the fourth century B.C.E. Flatweave rugs are created by weaving the wefts and warps together to create a seamless pattern. On the loom, the warp is the thread that is loaded into the loom vertically, while the weft if the thread that is woven over and under the warp horizontally. Several rug weaving techniques exist to help weavers make unique rugs that are truly works of art. In this lesson, we will learn about rug weaving techniques such as slitweaving, dovetailing, and soumaking.

Kilim Rug
Kilim Rug


The slitweave rug weaving technique is often used to create diagonal or geometric patterns and designs. A slitweave is accomplished by leaving a tiny gap between two different weft thread colors. The result of the slitweave technique is a stark contrast between the colors used on the rug.

A slitweave design is completed by bringing the weft of each color to the last warp thread before it meets another color. Then the weft is brought around the warp and weaving continues in the opposite direction. To create the desired diagonal design, the weaver must pack the weft very tightly to cover the warp entirely, while also ensuring that the entire flatweave boasts a strong integrity. When working on a slitweave design on a flatweave rug, a weaver finishes one color block before moving onto the next color in the pattern.

The slitweave weaving technique is very popular because it results in a rug that is reversible, with the pattern showing on both sides.


Dovetailing is a flatweave rug weaving technique that involves two different colored wefts coming from opposite directions and meeting around a single warp thread. By doing so, the two wefts create a boundary between them which is considered a single interlock weave. Dovetailing can also be used to create a double interlocking weave by taking wefts from different color blocks and interlocking them by weaving them together between two warp threads.

Dovetailing results in a softer color contrast, unlike the splitweave that we just discussed. Dovetailing is a great way to strength the vertical color segments along the warp as well.


Soumak Rug Technique
Soumak Rug Technique

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