How were tapestries made?

The designs for tapestries, known as cartoons, were drawn on paper or fabric at full-scale. Some were based on existing works of art, such as paintings or prints, but many were created specifically for a commissioned tapestry. The design for the border was frequently independent from that of the main body of the tapestry, even though the work was woven as a single unit.  

Cartoons were often cut into workable-sized strips, to be mounted behind or below the loom for the weavers to follow, and then rolled up for later reuse. Groups of weavers worked together on large looms, each weaving small sections of the tapestry and introducing new threads to create different colors and shading. The weavers followed the cartoon image as a guide in the design. The cartoon guide was essential, because in most cases weavers created their work “blind,” as the tapestries were woven and rolled from the side rather than front-on.