5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Bead Looming

The Mixed Beaded Boho Cuff is one of my favorite designs. I really enjoyed putting this bead loomed bracelet together, and I still love the process of working with a mix of beads and figuring out which ones fit between the warps. I’ve learned a few things since I designed the cuff and am happy to share 5 tips on bead looming that I wish I knew when I created this piece.

bead looming

1. Check your bugle beads before you start weaving.

I am a huge fan of bugle beads and personally own numerous colors and sizes. I have used bugles in my bead-weaving projects since day one. When you work with bugles, make sure the ends of the beads are not sharp. If they are, use a fingernail file to carefully file the ends smooth. If you skip checking the ends of your bugles, you might find the beads cut through your thread.

Another bugle-bead tip is to assess how many seed beads you can pair up to equal the length of your bugle beads. Once you know the number, substitute seed beads for the bugles every so often while weaving, just to mix things up!

bead looming

Here I would use twelve size 8° seed beads and one size 11° seed bead in place of this bugle bead.

2. Check bead hole sizes ahead of time.

The eye on the Jewel Loom needle is a little larger than a standard beading needle, so it can be a bit challenging to string on some 3mm beads. Check the holes before weaving or, if needed and to mix things up, swap in three size 8° seed beads for two 3mm beads.

bead looming

3. Be careful not to pull too tightly!

I had a surgical nurse in one of my Mixed Beaded Boho Cuff classes and she pulled so hard that she literally ripped her project right off the loom! We giggled and she admitted that her time in the ER doing stitches was to blame! Thank goodness, she had a great attitude. Together we were able to get her restarted so she could finish her cuff by the time the class was finished. Although it’s important to maintain consistent tension while bead looming, be careful that you don’t pull so tightly that you buckle your work.

bead looming

4. Forget what you know about beading, especially if you are an off-loom beader.

I have witnessed people use hand-stitching techniques on the loom, which can really get you off track when creating your warps and wefts. Just take your time, read the instructions for your project, and have faith that the project will work out!

bead looming

5. Make things easy and use a slide clasp.

bead looming

When I first started bead weaving over 20 years ago, I learned how to loom a bracelet and sew on a clasp. Back then, this was the only option I was aware of for finishing a loomed bracelet.

I’m always trying to figure out how to make beading on a loom easier. I love all of the gorgeous clasps that are available, but some of them can be a bit challenging to attach, especially for beginners. When Beadalon came out with the slide connectors, I was immediately drawn to them as an option for my seed bead projects.

Following the same instructions for finishing a bead-weaving project, after you cut your piece from the loom, simply add the slide connector over your top row of beads. I have found that both size 8° and 11° seed beads work perfectly with the slide connectors.

bead looming

Slide Clasp Tips:

  • After you tie all of the warps together and trim them, add a small amount of white glue to the knots, then apply the slide connector.
  • If the slide connector won’t fit easily over your beads, you can use a pair of flat-nose pliers to open the slide connector a bit to accommodate the beads.

bead looming

The best part about the Mixed Beaded Boho Cuff is that it lends itself to using all of your extra beads. You can have so much fun creating unique, one-of-a-kind cuffs!

Julianna C. Avelar

To find more projects and patterns, visit the Interweave Store!


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