Bead weaving on a loom – this is the easiest way to create beautiful flat, rectangular strip/tape of beads- you can use it for making jewelry, as an embellishment on clothes, as a belt, or even as bag straps. You can sew this tape to the material of your project or tie it into bead ends to be made into jewelry – many many possibilities.
In this article I will cover:
How does the bead loom work
In this method, a wooden loom is used to weave the beads in beautiful patterns.
A series of threads are stretched lengthwise and secured to the stopper at either end of the looms. These length-wise threads are the warp threads. On these threads, you will be passing a needle and thread (weft thread) with the beads in the widthwise direction, effectively weaving with the beads. The over and under movement of the weft thread attaches the beads on the warp thread.
How to create patterns for your bead weaving.
You can draw grid lines on a plain paper and designate each grid as a seed bead. Use color pencils to mark your design. Use the sequence on the paper to create your bead tape. Easy.
You can take printout of paper with gridlines free online or use a graph paper. Cut it out with the squares equalling your tape bead number. Mine is for 5 seed bead wide tape – so I will mark on this area on my paper.
An easy source of pattern inspiration is cross stitch patterns – it can be used as it is for the bead weaving. Just alter the pattern to your paper – the basic shape can be the same.
Decide on the length and width of your tape. Design accordingly. Mark the bead colors with color pencil or whatever.
Remember that on a rigid loom you will need to leave some 1 1/2 to 2 inches on each end without the weaving – so plan your length accordingly. With an adjustable bead loom, you can increase the length as you want.
What are the things you need for your bead weaving
A loom of course.
There are many kinds of beading looms available in the market. Mine is a pretty basic bead weaving loom but there are other more advanced ones that can stretch the area with rolling dowels – if you are serious about bead weaving and want to make more than some charms and bracelets it is worth investing inone of these.
If you are creative and handy you can make a loom yourself with some wooden planks, wood cutter and screws. You just need to make a contraption to keep your weft threads stretched a uniform distance from each other. Just remember that the longer and wider your loom, the larger your finished bead tape can be made into.
You need some beads, nylon or silk thread for stringing, a thin beading needle with a small eye( for the seed bead to pass through – a size 12 hand sewing needle is usually used for seed beads), a needle threader ( you will have a very difficult time threading the needle otherwise).
Ensure that the beads are all of the same sizes – if they are of different sizes there may be unsavory gaps in your final tape. If you can get very high-quality seed beads all of them will be of the same size and your work will look all the more smooth and pretty because of it.
If they are not uniform, do not let that worry you. I never do. My beads are all of different shapes and sizes and that never stops me from beading.
Start the bead weaving
Before you strat bead weaving you have to stretch the warp thread across. There are two stoppers on either side of your loom. These are for wrapping the thread you will be using.
Take your thread and tie a knot on one end stopper.
You will be stretching the threads across the length of the loom by wrapping the thread over these stoppers.
How many threads you stretch lengthwise on your loom will depend on the width of the tape you are making. If you want a tape with 5 beads (mine is) you will need to stretch 6 threads across the loom. If you want 8 beads stretch 9 thread.
You have to follow a sequence in stretching the thread. Stretch from the outwards to the inside. For my 6 threads, I have followed the sequence shown below.
Do not stretch too tight that it will break off or too loose that you are not able to weave properly.
Use a thicker thread on the outer edges if you want more definition at the edges.
After this take a 36-inch length of your weft thread.
Tie this weft thread in a knot to the warp thread closest to you on the left side of the loom – refer picture below.
Thread the other end of your thread through your needle. Take out the necessary beads in the order of your design – you need the beads in the sequence as per the first row of your design. In my case it is 2 white bead, one blue bead and 2 white bead.
Thread the beads (in the sequence of your design) on the needle. Take them under the lengthwise thread.
Spread them under the lengthwise thread; Only one bead should be between two threads.
Use your fore-finger to raise the beads – And Bring the needle back through these beads. It should be over the lengthwise threads – this is very important.
You can do this individually one bead at a time – at first, you will want to.
But with practice, you can do this in one go – raise the beads and insert the needle through all of them at once.
Do the other row the same way – and the rest of the rows too.
When you have to change the thread (at one point your weft thread will end) take the remaining thread through the last two beads and then tie a knot.
Cut it off and then start with another thread the same way you began earlier.
Follow the sequence shown in your design to get the pattern you want. Remember if you miss one bead it will be difficult to correct it without unraveling the whole thing, so be vigilant as you thread.
After finishing the weaving, strengthen the ends by weaving in and out through the ends with your needle and thread.
Cut off the ends near the stopper. Use it the way you want to.
You can use these beaded tapes to make your own bracelets, necklaces, pendants and earrings.
Find out more ways to make earrings with fabric, beads and buttons here. And also ways to make bead bracelets