Basic Kumihimo Supplies–What Do I Need for Kumihimo?

Examples of Kumihimo braiding with beadsKumihimo braiding is one of the most lovely and versatile types of jewelry making, and it’s taken the beading community by storm in recent years! This Japanese braid-making art implements cords or ribbons—and, in some cases, colorful beads—to create beautiful, interlaced strands. You can use kumihimo to create gorgeous jewelry, home décor and more. To get started, you’ll want to stock up on basic kumihimo supplies. Cord, beads and bobbins go a long way with this art form!

Ready to try your hand at some basic beaded kumihimo braids? Just like my other favorite beading techniques, kumihimo can be done with an incredible variety of materials. Before you sit down to undertake your first beaded kumihimo project, make sure you have a few basic supplies handy for a successful finished project. Here we’ll outline all the kumihimo braiding supplies you need to get started with this wonderful craft.

Foam Kumihimo Disks

Foam kumihimo disk that's perfect for beginners.Foam kumihimo plate used to make a flat braid.Foam kumihimo disks are perfect for beginners. They’re inexpensive, you can write all over them to mark your place, they’re lightweight, and very portable.

You can find foam kumihimo disks in two shapes: round and square. The round foam kumihimo disks can commonly be found in 6″ and 4″ sizes for making round braids with a hollow center core. A square kumihimo disk is used to make a flat braid, suitable for a flat bracelet.

If you find yourself completely smitten with kumihimo braiding techniques, you might want to look into purchasing a standing wooden kumihimo loom, also known as a marudai. You can find these starting at around $40, ranging up to several hundred dollars for a large, handmade marudai.

Kumihimo Bobbins

A kumihimo braid requires the management of multiple strands of fiber, cord, wire, or leather. To manage these multiple strands, and also to hold any beads in place while you braid, you’ll need a set of plastic bobbins. Again, these inexpensive plastic kumihimo supplies can be found in most local bead shops or from your favorite online bead supplier. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you have one set of bobbins for each foam loom in your collection of beading supplies. I try to keep one set of bobbins for each foam kumihimo disc in my collection of beading supplies so that I can have more than one project going at once.

Cord for Kumihimo

Example of cord used for kumihimo beading projects.There are lots of options for cord to use when making a kumihimo braid, with our without beads. When I learned how to do kumihimo from Jill Wiseman, I started out using an extra heavy (#18) S-Lon cord, and that remains my preferred material for making beaded kumihimo braids. If you’re planning on making a kumihimo braid with large-hole beads (like my favorite large-hole freshwater pearls), I would suggest a slightly thinner cord to make sure that you can fit all eight cords through the center hole of your focal bead.

For showcasing a focal bead or a special pair of end caps, you can use something like satin rat tail cord, with thicknesses varying between 0.5mm and 3mm. The bright colors of these silky cords will create a spectacular finished kumihimo braid. But be aware that a thicker satin cord will widen the slits in your foam kumihimo discs.

Leather cord is another great material for making kumihimo braids. Leather can be used for making men’s kumihimo jewelry, or for more rustic and Bohemian-style jewelry.

And if you love making wire crochet jewelry, why not experiment with fine gauge wire and beads for kumihimo? Colored bead stringing wire is another great option for making some colorful modern kumihimo braids.

End caps for Kumihimo

Examples of end caps used in kumihimo beadingDepending on your individual taste, you may wish to cover the ends of your kumihimo braids with decorative end caps. End caps come in all sizes, from very large to very small, and in an incredible variety of shapes, metals, and colors. If you can’t find a style of end cap that you like, why not try stitching your own using right-angle weave or tubular peyote stitch?

Beads for Kumihimo

Some might argue that the beads are the best part of beaded kumihimo—and I won’t disagree with that! And choosing your kumihimo bead material is where the fun really comes in. The beads make your finished product uniquely yours!

For beginning beaded kumihimo projects, a few tubes of size 6 seed beads are enough to get you started. Once you’ve got the hang of adding beads to your kumihimo braids, try experimenting with 3mm fire-polished glass beads, 3mm round glass druks, lightweight gemstone beads, pearls, or maybe even some vintage German and Czech glass beads. For maximum sparkle, you can splurge on crystal beads, or load up on the inexpensive Chinese crystals to make glamorous beaded kumihimo ropes that look like they’re straight out of the 1920s.

How to Learn Basic Kumihimo With Beads

I was lucky enough to be able to take two kumihimo braiding classes with Beadwork magazine Designer Of the Year Jill Wiseman at Bead Fest Philadelphia, but I know not everybody has that opportunity. So I was practically giddy with delight when I heard that Jill was creating a DVD about beaded kumihimo! Learn all of Jill’s basic kumihimo techniques by watching as she demonstrates how to easily create your own show-stopping beaded kumihimo braids. You’ll love Jill’s style as she tells you how to combine bead shapes and sizes, how to keep track of your progress as you work, and how to add a professional-looking finish to all of your beaded kumihimo braids!

Learn how to do basic kumihimo with beads in the video, Kumihimo with Beads with Jill Wiseman!

If you’ve been waiting for a top-notch kumihimo video to come along, this is it. Get your copy of Kumihimo With Beads with Jill Wiseman and see just how easy it is to start making your own beaded kumihimo braids! But don’t say I didn’t warn you—kumihimo with beads is almost as addicting as your favorite off-loom bead-weaving techniques.

Wondering where to buy kumihimo supplies? Make sure to explore Interweave’s beading store for plenty of affordable kumihimo materials!

Bead Happy,


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