This week I spent some time (make that a lot of time) experimenting with the "no warps" square stitch starter strip beading method. You may recall it from the April 2007 issue of Bead&Button magazine, which offers a brief tutorial as a free PDF download if you're a subscriber.
After some experimenting, I decided to alter the technique a bit. I also put together a set of new tutorials that expand on some subtleties that are not obvious in the Bead&Button piece.
This is the first of several "no warps" loom beading techniques I'll cover here on About, all of which have their own unique positives and negatives. The positive aspect of the starter strip method is that it results in clean-edge beadwork right off the loom. There's no cutting, tugging, or pulling required -- with the exception that you need to "rip" (or undo) a row of square stitch at each end in order to remove your beadwork.
Now for the downsides.
First, it's a bit time consuming and a little awkward to set up. However, once you have your starter strips attached, you can use them over and over again, which helps.
Second, unless you make a modification to your loom, you're limited to beadwork that is the same length as your loom -- no longer and no shorter (unless you're into a method called "pull and pray," which I don't recommend).
Third, unless you modify your loom, starter strips bypass the loom's tension control system (the warp bars), which leaves the warp threads a little loose and more difficult to bead with.
Fourth, you must be very, very careful not to split thread when you stitch into the starter strip at both ends of your beadwork. Split thread will prevent you from ripping out those temporary stitches at the ends of the beadwork to remove it from the loom. To make this easier, I recommend that you use a polyethylene beading thread, such as FireLine, with this technique whenever possible.
Have you ever tried the starter strip technique that was published in Bead & Button magazine? What did you think of it?
Photo © Chris Franchetti Michaels
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