With this method of finishing off your loom beadwork, you use the weft thread to stitch the warp threads into a selvage at either end of the beadwork. You can then sew the selvage onto fabric, glue it to the back of your beadwork, or secure it within ribbon clamp ends to make a bracelet, as shown here.
Note: This tutorial demonstrates finishing off using a basic, fixed frame bead loom. The process is slightly different if you use an upright loom with a shedding device.
Coming soon: Loom beading and finishing off with a shedding device. (Sign up for the Beadwork Newsletter for updates.)
1. Gather Your Materials
You'll need the following materials to finish off your beadwork using the selvage method in this tutorial. (These are in addition to the supplies you'll need to create your beadwork, such as a loom, warp and weft threads or cords, a beading needle, scissors, and beads):
- E6000 glue.
- Optional: Your choice of epoxy or UV coating resin.*
- A toothpick.
- A paper towel.
- Two ribbon clamp ends (shown on the left) whose lengths match the width of your beadwork (the example uses 25mm clamp ends).
- Nylon jaw pliers (available at most bead shops and online jewelry making suppliers).
- Jump rings and a ready-made clasp of your choice.
- Two pairs of flat nose or chain nose pliers (or one of each) for attaching the jump rings and clasp.
* I often use UV resin to seal my selvages because it cures relatively quickly under UV light, is strong, and does not emit strong odors or fumes. However, it's fine to use E6000 instead.
Please click on any image in this tutorial for a full-size view.
2. Start Beading With an Extra Long Thread Tail
When you plan on using the selvage method of finishing off, you should begin your beadwork with an extra long tail of weft thread. That means that when you prepare your initial length of thread for the weft, its total length should be the length of that tail plus the length of thread that you normally work with.
In the example, I pulled my usual arm span of thread plus about 36 additional inches. I then tied my initial overhand knot over the first warp thread about 36 inches from the end of the weft thread.
Tip: If you forget to leave a long weft thread tail, you can still use the selvage technique if you go back and add a new weft thread to the end of your beadwork before making your selvage.
3. Complete Your Beadwork and Tie a Half Hitch Knot
Weave your entire design as usual. When you finish the last row of beadwork, use the weft thread to tie a half hitch knot around the last warp thread (or cord).
4. Begin the First Selvage
Weave the needle under the last warp thread and up over the next warp thread. Continue weaving over and under until you reach the end of the row. (This is called "picking.") Reverse direction, and weave another row of thread. Use your fingers to slide down each row of thread toward the beadwork.
5. Complete the First Selvage
Continue this process until you have enough selvage to completely fill the inside of one of your ribbon clamp ends. In the example, this took about 30 passes with the weft thread.
Complete the selvage by tying a half-hitch knot over the last warp thread.
6. Weave the Second Selvage
Thread the needle onto the long thread tail at the other end of the beadwork, and weave a matching selvage there.
7. Apply Glue or Resin to Both Selvages
Cover the top surface of each selvage with a coat of E6000 or coating resin. Epoxy coating resins (such as Envirotex Lite) require that you mix two equal parts (a resin and a hardener) to prepare it. You then pour or paint it on, and give it at least 24 hours to cure.
For the example, I used Lisa Pavelka's UV Resin, which doesn't require mixing. You can apply it directly from the bottle, but it requires strong UV light in order to set. You can place your beadwork outside on a sunny day, use a UV light designed for lizard terrariums, or use the light kit that Lisa distributes. (I used the light kit.) When exposed to the right kind and intensity of light, UV resin sets in as little as 15 minutes (depending on how thick you apply it).
While the glue or resin is still wet, use a toothpick to spread it so that it covers the entire selvage.
Note: Read the directions that come with your glue or resin, and be sure to follow any safety precautions. At minimum, it's best to use these materials in areas with good ventilation, and avoid breathing in their fumes as much as possible. (Of all of the options I mention here, the UV resin has the least smell or fumes; in fact, you probably won't notice them.)
8. Allow the Glue or Resin to Set
After applying glue or epoxy resin, set your beadwork (still on the loom) aside to fully dry.
If you use UV Resin, you can set the loom outdoors in bright sunlight or beneath a terrarium light bulb. However, if you want to use the Lisa Pavelka light kit, you'll need to very carefully cut your beadwork off of the loom (see the next step) while the resin is still wet, and then (keeping the beadwork level) place it into the light box.
The photo on the left shows my beadwork inside of the light box. The resin took about a half hour to fully cure, and I flipped it over mid-way through to make sure light reached both sides of the selvage. (The thicker the layer you applied, the longer the resin will take to cure.)
9. Cut the Beadwork Off of the Loom (If You Haven't Already)
To remove the beadwork from your loom, use sharp scissors to cut the warp threads on either side of the selvage.
When your glue or resin is completely dry, you can use the same scissors to trim the warps up against both selvages, and trim off the remaining weft tails.
10. Adjust the Ribbon Clamp Ends
Use nylon jaw pliers to gently squeeze down each of your clamp ends to make their openings slightly narrower. They need to be just wide enough to slide over your selvages; but do not adjust them while they are on the selvages unless your clamp ends are non-serrated. (Serrated clamp ends can easily cut through your selvage and even cause your design to fall apart.)
11. Glue the Clamp Ends to the Selvages
With the clamp ends off of the selvages, apply some E6000 to the ends of the selvages. (This is where I head to an area with especially good ventilation.) Because we already sealed the selvages in a previous step, you only need enough glue to hold your clamp ends in place.
Slide on each clamp end, and center it on your beadwork. Use a paper towel to wipe any excess glue that oozes out. (Because the glue is rubbery, you can also pick off excess glue once it starts to dry.
Set your beadwork aside once more and allow the glue to cure for about 24 hours.
12. Attach Your Clasp
After the glue has cured, use pliers to attach a clasp to your clamp ends with jump rings.
Tip: If your bracelet is too short, add a length of jewelry chain between one clamp end and clasp part to extend it.
Coming soon: There are more loom beading tutorials on the way, including a look at the weave-in method of finishing off, and the best methods for loom beading without having to worry about extra warp threads at all.