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How to Bead on a Basic Loom

Loom Beading Without Heddles or a Shedding Device

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This tutorial covers the basic technique for weaving beads on a wire frame or wooden frame loom while creating a stylish band bracelet.

When you weave beads on a loom, you stitch horizontal rows of beads onto a framework of vertical threads (or cords) called warps. Loom beading is faster than off-loom beading because it enables you to stitch multiple beads in a single pass of needle and thread.

Unlike off-loom beading, however, loom beading requires that you set up your loom ahead of time by attaching the warps. When you complete your beadwork, you typically need to "finish it off" by finding a way to conceal the multiple warp threads that protrude from your beadwork at both ends.

1. Gather Your Materials

A completed loom beaded bracelet
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

To follow along with the tutorial, you'll need the following materials:

  • A basic bead loom with a wire or wood frame
  • C-Lon Bead Cord in antique brown
  • Size D C-Lon beading thread in gold
  • Beading scissors
  • Thread conditioner or beeswax (for conditioning the beading thread)
  • A size 10 or size 12 beading needle

You'll also need the following 4mm Czech fire polished glass beads:

  • 10 beads per inch* in Persian turquoise (or your choice of first color)
  • 10 beads per inch in HurriCane western oasis (or you choice of second color)
  • 10 beads per inch in goldenrod Picasso (or your choice of third color)

* Per inch of beadwork. For a bracelet, the total length of beadwork is the length of the band not including the clasp and any end findings.

2. Begin Warping

A double warp
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

In the example bracelet, we'll warp the loom with the C-Lon cord, using the no-wind method. However, rather than using just one strand for the first and last warps, we'll use two. This is called double warping.

Make the first warp as usual, by bringing the cord up over the top of the loom. After you reverse direction, bring the cord back over the loom directly on top of the first warp. Use the same two warps dents that you used for the first warp.

Please click on any image in this tutorial for a full-size view.

3. Finish Warping

The loom warped
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

Make four more single warps, leaving two empty dents between each warp pair. This should create the right amount of space for the 4mm beads.

Make the sixth warp a double warp. (Using double warps on the edges of your beadwork makes your design stronger.) Tie off and trim your warp thread.

4. Tie On the Weft

The weft tied on
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

The second type of thread (or cord) used in loom beading is the weft. For our weft we're using the size D C-Lon beading thread.

Prepare a length of thread and thread your needle. The length of weft thread you use depends on your comfort level and the method of finishing off you plan to use.

For the bracelet in this tutorial, I used a selvage method of finishing off, which requires that you begin with an extra long thread tail -- in this case, about 36 inches. Since I usually stitch with an arm span of thread, I pulled and prepared an arm span plus about 36 inches.

Tie an overhand knot with the weft thread over the first warp. To use the selvage finishing technique, make the knot about 36 inches up from the end of the weft thread (to create the thread tail). We'll come back to the thread tail later and use it to make a selvage (see Step 8 below).

Tip: What constitutes the "first" warp depends on whether you're right handed or left handed. If you're right handed, tie on to the left most warp (as shown in the photo at the beginning of this step); if you're left handed, tie on to the right most warp.

Slide your overhand knot to about two inches away from the warp separator.

Next, pass the weft thread underneath all of the warp threads and out the other side of the loom.

5. Weave the First Row of Beads

The first row of beads stitched
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

Use your needle to pick up five of the first color of beads. In the example, these are the turquoise beads. Slide them down to the overhand knot on the first warp.

Use your fingers to bring the beads up between the warp threads, with one bead between each pair of warps. Gently press the entire group of beads, and the weft, up against the warps.

Now pass the needle through each bead, on top of the warps. Bring the needle out on the other side, and pull the thread gently taut. The first row of beads should now be locked in place.

6. Weave the Second Row of Beads

The second row of beads stitched
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

To position your thread for the second row of beads, pass it beneath all of the warp threads once again, and bring it out on the other side of the loom. Pick up the next set of five beads. In the example, these are the second color of beads, which are HurriCane western oasis.

Bring all five beads up beneath the warps, just like you did for the first five beads. Pass the needle back through all of the beads once again, being careful to keep the weft thread on top of the warp cords.

This completes the second row.

7. Keep Weaving

Many rows of beads stitched
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

Use the same technique to stitch each consecutive row of beads. The third row will be the third color of 4mm beads (HurriCane goldenrod Picasso), and then the three colors alternate again.

When you get to the point where you only have about eight to ten inches of weft thread remaining, stop and begin a new thread.

Resume beading, and stop weaving when you have your desired length of beadwork (usually between about six and seven inches for a bracelet).

8. Finish-Off Your Beadwork

The completed beadwork
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

With the beadwork complete, you're ready to finish it off.

For the beadwork in the example, I used the selvage technique with ribbon clamp ends. When you use beading thread (rather than cord) for your warps, you can use the weaving-in method instead.

The beadwork is now complete!

If you'd like more help with this tutorial, or if you have other questions about loom beading, please stop by the forum and leave a post.

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