Free Loomworked Bracelet Project Instructions

Mar 6, 2009

Fast and Easy Loomwork?

I love square stitch.  I just finished two square stitch projects--a crazy lavender/lime green/orange/black bracelet for the June/July Beadwork challenge (pictured here) and a heart-themed square for the Bead-It-Forward annual fundraiser.  Square stitch is perfect for charted designs, but frankly, it isn't the fastest stitch in the world and lately, my time is at a premium.  Another beader told me that loomwork would be faster than square stitch for the more sizable piece (a 4-5 inch square) that I'm planning for the cover of a small photo album.  Then I read in The Beader's Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell that "loomwork is one of the easiest beading techniques."  Fast and easy, huh?  How could I resist?

How to Make a Temporary Bead Loom

To start, I pulled out a copy of Beading on a Loom by Don Pierce, which gives tips on choosing beads and thread, warping the loom, correcting mistakes, and advanced techniques like open weave and creating subtle shading and curves. 

Beading on a Loom also provides step-by-step instructions to make your own loom.  Following the instructions in the book will result in a more handsome and permanent loom than mine (pictured here).  If you decide that you like loomwork, then you may want to buy a high-quality loom with additional features like adjustable settings for different sized projects.  (If any experienced loomworkers have loom suggestions for me, please share them on the website.  I'd really appreciate it!)

1.  Find a suitable frame.  A box lid or an old picture frame will work.  Choose an appropriate size for your project.  Don Pierce recommends, "If you're planning a bracelet with a finished length of 7", you'll need a loom that will hold a 19" warp--7" for the weaving and 6" at each end for finishing."

2.  Use a ruler to mark even spaces that are the size of your beads.  When you start stringing the beads, you'll want to have one thread on each side of the bead without any big gaps.  (For my sample, I marked 10mm spaces for my motley collection of 10mm beads.)

3.  If you are using a cardboard frame like mine, use scissors to notch the cardboard to hold the threads.  For a wooden frame, you could use small nails, long springs, or another method of anchoring the thread onto the loom.  In researching this piece, I found lots of creative ideas, including one person who glued a haircomb on each end of the loom to hold the threads.

4.  Wrap the thread around the loom, continuing until you have one more thread than the number of rows in your pattern.  You'll want to make sure your tension is even and taut, but not tight.

That's it!  You're set up and ready to weave.  

Check out this week's free loomwork project from the Beadwork archives:

New Free Project
Stones and Roses
by Stacey Neilson

Sophisticated loomworked bracelets worked with rose montees, rhinestones with a channeled metal backing for thread to pass through in crossing directions.  (I found rose montees also listed as "sew-on rhinestones" at places that sell items for costume design or that carry vintage findings.)  Prestring rose montees on a bead loom and then weave a cobblestone texture between them with 4mm cube beads and size 8 seed beads.  This project from the October/November 2004 issue of Beadwork will be free until March 31, 2009.

New Charity Auction:  Bead Star's online charity auction begins today, March 6, 2009 and runs through the 16th.  Designers donated some of their prize-winning designs from Bead Star, including Egyptian Sunburst by Lori Mendenhall pictured here.  The proceeds from the auction will benefit the American Heart Association's women's heart-health initiative.  All auction items will be on display at Bead Fest Santa Fe, March 12-15, 2009 if you want to see them in person or bid on one of the five selected for silent auction at the show.  Visit the Bead Star website for auction details.


Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website. 



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Comments

on Mar 6, 2009 8:55 AM
FANTASTIC.......
RoseS@30 wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 11:16 AM
I do a lot of square stitch, because 1. I don't have a loom big enough for some of the pieces I've been doing (8"-10"), and 2. these pieces have a lot of increases & decreases. any suggestions?
digupstuff wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 12:57 PM
I do the square stitch without using a loom. I'm working on a cute bracelet right now for a friend's baby shower gift. I can't wait until she sees it! She's going to love it, I'm sure! Check out my website at: http://digsart.com and be sure to sign up for my mailing list and the giveaway contests! <3 Dig :D XOXOX
Toad2 wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 1:15 PM
re: Tip on making your own loom. When I was a teacher on an Apache reservation we often had local craftsmen demonstrate for Culture week. One of the ladies had a homemade bead loom with 3 or 4 strings of different sized beads hanging off the end of the front and back uprights. When she planned to bead with size 11, she would simply pull that string of beads up and across the upright, front and back and secure the string on the other side on a peg. Then she threaded the loom by stretching the warp threads between the beads on the front and back uprights, achieving perfect spacing no matter what size bead she used.
Terry_22560 wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 1:49 PM
Here's an idea that i have used with pretty results: when wrapping the warp threads onto your loom of choice, try adding chenille or or some other fun yarn or fiber - then work the beads the same way that you would normally. A little care in pushing the beads up through the warp, but results are texture and interest. Size 6 and 8 seed beads work nicely, and also larger beads like the ones shown in your box loom, work too!
ElisaE wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 1:58 PM
>loom suggestions I'm currently weaving 1"-wide bracelets on a 16"-wide Mirrix loom. This particular loom is a bit on the large side for all but the most ambitious beading projects (it's capable of weaving a piece 13" wide and 36" high); the manufacturer makes both smaller and larger looms. The tension is adjustable--invaluable whenever warp threads might either stretch due to tension or shrink due to take up. (The tightening of warp as you weave is usually not a problem on small, bracelet-length pieces; it's a real issue on long pieces.) There's also a shedding device, which allows for another, faster method of beading on a loom (plainweave with beaded weft on a spaced wrap). There are a multitude of springs available to help space warp threads; it's possible to fit an additional warp-spacing spring on the bottom of the loom as well as the top, but this makes it awkward to pull finished weaving to the around the bottom bar to the back of the loom to free up more unwoven warp. Larger Mirrix looms (starting with the 12" model) have fold-out legs so they stand nicely on a table. Hope this helps!
NancyR@73 wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 2:37 PM
NancyR. I too have a Mirriex loom and I love it! But before that I had/have several homemade looms of different lengths made simply from scrap wood and springs I bought from the hardware store the spring size depends on how wide the loom is, but with a variety and simply attaching to screws on the side you can change springs. The bases are one straight piece of wood and sides are same wood at right angle. Hope this helps. But if you really get into loom work the Mirriix is really a treat to work on. Has anyone used Don Pierce's Larry the Loom?
BLONDIE-POP wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 3:23 PM
I usually work with large window size looms. (or some lap size looms too) As my interest has grown in the jewelry area for the past 7 years, I started getting into jewelry looming. Well, needless to say my first loom......drove me crazy. It was cheap (didn't know if i was going to like the tiny work), it wobbled, never stayed tight, etc... I'm sure you get the picture. After fighting with this loom and starting this rose pattern square I figued I would start off with 3 plus times over. I did finished and enjoyed what I was doing, but refused to use that frame again. LOL I purchases another frame very stable, and reminded me of a mini loom I am used to working on. I am looking for a better quality loom overall. I see that the Mirriex Loom was mention......is this the way to go next? I have done reseach on it, but it is nice to hear from loomers that use it.........<3
Kate Hill wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 6:18 PM
Yep... nothing better than a Mirrix. Easy to warp, easy to transport... you can make something small OR something large on the same loom. The shedding device saves LOTS of time. But the BEST part about the Mirrix... the service. Claudia is great... parts shipped quickly, questions answered quickly, plus she is SO talented! Oh.. you can also use your Mirrix for tapestry weaving as well. Dual purpose device. Do not hesitate to spend your hard earned dollars on a Mirrix. You won't be sorry.
BLONDIE-POP wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 6:55 PM
Thank you Kate Hill for your advise. This makes my mind up more easily......good service tooo ALRIGHT. thanks again.
BLONDIE-POP wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 7:01 PM
Thank you Kate Hill . You really have made up my mind more easily. Esp. good service toooo ALRIGHT. Thanks Again. keep enjoying your child within!
nospoj wrote
on Mar 6, 2009 11:43 PM
Dear Michelle, Oh I could kiss you! I've been in a beading slump since January and today I went to a craft fair and a lovley young lady explained all about working on a loom. I've had one sitting in the cupboard for quite some time. I went online to find a pattern but checked my email first, and low and behold there it was. Sure must be fate! Thanks Nospoj
grimmett1 wrote
on Mar 7, 2009 2:07 PM
I don't do a lot of loomwork, but was unhappy with being limited by the width of the inexpensive looms. I wasn't ready to spend major bucks for one of the Mirrex looms. So I did a search for instructions on how to make my own. The instructions I found were from Hillsinger Bead School, but I've been unable to find that site on the internet again. All of the links to them have been broken so it appears the site doesn't exist anymore. However, I did save the instructions for the loom. It's built from 2 pairs of ready-made canvas stretchers from an art store, a few screws and a long porch screendoor spring. I think it took me 30 minutes and about $15 to make. The only tools you need are a screwdriver and a heavy duty pair of wire cutters to slip the spring in half. It was a free set of instructions that I would be happy to share if there are no copyright violations.
on Mar 8, 2009 9:27 PM
I became frustrated with my homemade loom so after reading a suggestion online I bought the common loom available at a craft store. I stretched apart the angled metal ends and the loom was just right for bracelets. My first attempt took many hours, but the second bracelet went quite quickly. My biggest challenge is creating the clasp. I learned to loom using Don Pierce's book which has wonderful ideas and ways to avoid annoyances. Looming is a consuming activity and I truly love it. I never thought I would want to do it so I really surprised myself.
Ermeline wrote
on Mar 9, 2009 8:31 AM
thank you very much to your patterns. a french friend.
on Mar 11, 2009 7:02 AM
I have some friend who teaching beadweaving on a loom of the creation/adaptation. http://www.copperloom.com/ No warps. Very beautiful.
birdhouse wrote
on Mar 11, 2009 10:50 AM
I am a "big loom" weaver by day and love bead weaving as a change of pace. My first loom was a Mirrix and I found it useful, but I did not fall in love until I got my Boomerang Bead Loom. And talk about service - I changed my mind about using my Mirrix three days before a major class and the people at Boomerang had it to me overnight! It is beautiful, warm and inviting cherry wood and when warped has enough room behind the warp to get your hands in there for more controlled manipulation of the beads. Check it out!
on Apr 2, 2009 10:57 AM
I only create beadwork by looming! I have also included some of my techniques on my website www.beadsbeadingbeaded.com I it very important to use the correct size loom, no matter what loom you prefer. It not only will save in thread, (i.e., using a belt loom to create a bracelet) but will also assist in keeping the correct tension, an important part of keeping your loomed edges straight! My looms are custom built, but if you had to purchase one, consider one with a 'base'. This will allow the loom to hold bead cups, keeps the loom sturdy, and you can use some spray adhesive to lay down a piece of felt for holding your needles and not allowing slippage of your cups.
alabama wrote
on Jul 30, 2010 9:29 AM

Where can I find free loomwork patterns?  I am a recently retired disabled Navy veteran and cannot afford to pay for patterns.

JDon871120 wrote
on Jan 18, 2012 2:13 PM

I'm with you alabama, I need to find patterns for a small loom.. Any help out there

Janet at:  JDon871120@yahoo.com    Just purchase a loom and need patterns and don't know where to get them. Thanks for any help...