Kumihimo Questions Answered

Rainbow kumihimo bracelet by Debbie Altman

What's not to love about beaded kumihimo? It's fast, easy to learn, a great alternative to bead crochet for those of us who aren't inclined to use a hook, and it's as close to instant gratification as some of us beaders can hope for — a simple beaded kumihimo braid makes a quick, fabulous bracelet with just a set of fancy end caps and a show-stopping clasp. It seems as though kumihimo is popping up everywhere these days — even my bank teller was asking me for advice on how to do beaded kumihimo braids the other day! And because I'm asked so many questions about these beautiful, fun, and highly addictive beaded braiding technique, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions that I hear about getting started with beaded kumihimo.

1. What kind of cord works best for kumihimo? You can do kumihimo with just about any kind of cord, or even fine-gauge wire or bead stringing wire. If you're looking to learn basic beaded kumihimo, using S-Lon cord is my recommendation. It's easy to string beads for braiding, and it's easy to handle for braids. If you're looking to just learn the basic braids, try starting with satin rat tail cord in 1mm or 2mm thickness. Just be aware that thicker cord, wire, or leather will wear out the slots on your foam kumihimo disc pretty quickly. If you find that you're having a problem maintaining tension in your kumihimo braids, it might be time to replace your foam disc.

2. How do I safely remove an end cap from my kumihimo braid after I've glued it on? It happens from time to time that we might need to remove an end cap from a kumihimo braid to change a pendant or fix a mistake. If you find that you need to remove a glued-on end cap, you can try using rubbing alcohol or mineral oil to dissolve the glue. Another option is to find a commercial glue solvent at your local craft store, and carefully apply it under the end cap until you can wiggle it loose.

3. How much thread or cord do I need to make a kumihimo braid? As my favorite bead artist and instructor, Jill Wiseman, has been known to say: thread is cheap. It's always better to cut more than you think you need in order to make sure that you don't run out of thread or cord before you're finished with your project. The general rule of thumb is to cut three times your finished length, plus a few inches for knotting and finishing. Don't forget that you'll need to cut at least 8 lengths of cord, thread, or wire for your kumihimo braid. This question also leads to…

4. How many beads will I need to make a beaded kumihimo braid? The only thing worse than running out of thread in the middle of a kumihimo braiding project is running out of beads! Just like with measuring thread, it's always better to have more beads than you think you will need for your project. If you're using seed beads, try this handy chart that tells you approximately how many seed beads per inch of braid you'll need to use. The number of beads per inch is how many beads you'll need per strand for an 8-strand braid. 

If you're making a 7-inch braid using size 6/0 seed beads, you'll need 45 beads per inch x 7 inches = 315 beads, divided up between the 8 strands = approximately 39 beads per strand.

Bead Size (seed beads) 6/0 8/0 11/0 Cylinder size 8/0 Cylinder size 11/0
Beads per inch 45 60 70 50 90

Ready to start learning beaded kumihimo? I had the good fortune to be able to learn how to do beaded kumihimo in-person from one of my favorite bead artists, Jill Wiseman. But if you can't make it to one of Jill's amazing classes, there's the next best thing: her Kumihimo with Beads DVD in the Beading Daily Shop! You'll learn Jill's tried-and-true tips and techniques for making beaded kumihimo braids, learn about beading supplies for beaded kumihimo, and learn three different finishing techniques for kumihimo ropes. Get your copy of Kumihimo with Beads and get started learning how to do beaded kumihimo today!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

3 Comments

  1. Milinda H at 6:04 am May 11, 2017

    I am interested in using kumihimo to make an ID holder for work. Is is possible to make a Y necklace with kumihimo??

  2. Laura W at 12:36 pm June 23, 2017

    Hello! I have seen beautiful ID badges as well as eyeglass holders. Very pretty.

    For our expert: How many size 3/0 beads would I use for 20 inches of braid? For 6/0, it’s 45 per inch, can I figure on 30+ per inch? Thank you. I know it will be expensive but the colors are gorgeous! Sincerely, Laura W.

    • Lavon P at 4:56 pm July 11, 2017

      Hi Laura,
      Your math seems correct, based on the size of a 3/0 seed bead. However, I think it would be difficult to accurately determine how many beads you need per inch, because it will depend on your tension (loose vs. tight tension), as well as the weight of your cord. The best approach is to create a sample to see how many of a particular bead size you use per inch. Then you can make a more accurate estimate of how many total beads you’ll need. (But always estimate high!) Good luck! ~Lavon Peters, Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

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