Tips For Beaded Kumihimo From A Beginner

Mar 26, 2014

From Jennifer: Warning: Doing kumihimo with beads is totally addicting. If you're thinking about learning how to do beaded kumihimo, you should know that you will fall head over heels for this easy Japanese braiding technique. You'll be buying up size 6 seed beads by the kilo. You'll start dreaming about end caps and cones for finishing your kumihimo braids. And you'll be thinking about ways to stitch up fancy beaded sliders and accents for these quick and easy beaded ropes that are a great alternative to bead crochet.

Don't believe me? My most excellent marketing manager here at Interweave, Ashley Lauwereins, is just the latest friend of mine to be bitten by the kumihimo bug. Read on to learn about her experience and how she learned how to do kumihimo with beads!

I got into jewelry making back in middle school. My mom wanted to keep me preoccupied during the long summer months, so I started stringing jewelry. From there I progressed to... metalsmithing, and wirework. But somehow, bead stitching skipped me all together. I've never bead stitched, and of all the different jewelry making techniques it seems the most inaccessible to me. Yes, I have watched every DVD Interweave has put out in the last year, and while I feel inspired to pick up a needle and start stitching away, I haven't.

And honestly, right-angle weave, peyote stitch, and herringbone stitch intimidate me. Even after watching all the DVDs, the idea of stitching beads together still scares me. I know, it's probably crazy that I'm fine with soldering using a flame and hot, molten metal, but a little needle and some seed beads scare me.

All that changed when I watched Jill Wiseman's DVD on kumihimo beading. I already had some of the basics down from watching her in the past, but this DVD really brought the technique to life. I had a private lesson watching Jill tell me in detail what I needed to do, and I felt like Jill made it look so easy that even I could do it!

So I went out and purchased my own kumihimo beading kit. I measured out my thread the way Jill demonstrated, strung on my beads, and began the pattern. Up left, down right; up left, down right. I made sure to tuck my bead under the thread, and before I knew it my braid was grew into a bracelet. As I watched the DVD and wove my kumihimo bracelet, I learned five great tips, and just like they say, practice made them perfect:

1. Weighted bobbins make a difference. Jill talks about the importance of bobbins, and how much you are sure to fall in love with them. I couldn't agree more, but I have one slight change to that. I found these weighted bobbins, and they are amazing. I didn't even need the center weight with these, and they helped keep my cord inside the notches of the disk.

2. Don't be afraid to draw on your foam kumihimo loom. Jill suggests drawing a directional arrow on your foam kumihimo loom. If you're intimidated by all the numbers on your loom, you'll love how Jill teaches the basic moves of kumihimo braiding -- she doesn't teach it by the numbers! Having that arrow was really helpful for me! 

3. Gotta put down your kumihimo for a minute? Or an hour? Jill's got you covered. The best part of the DVD is that Jill shows what to look for if your kumihimo time is interrupted. For this reason, I was able to start again with confidence. I simply looked for the crossing cords and went on with my kumihimo time.

4. Thread is cheap. Jill recommends starting with three yards of cord for your kumihimo creations. I started with that much and it made three bracelets, but Jill was right -- I'm happy I had extra cord, instead of running out before my bracelet was finished. It's easy to use up what you cut, or buy more cord (which is cheap).

5. You're only limited by your imagination! Once you understand the pattern, the possibilities are endless!

If Jill taught me anything, it was that it really is easy to kumihimo with beads. Really, even the most intimidating part, connecting the end caps, was easy to do. If you're interested in trying out kumihimo, may I recommend Jill's DVD to teach you. All the must-know step by step direction, the tips, and Jill acting as a kumihimo type of Fairy Godmother. Now, the only thing keeping me from making more bracelets (or necklaces) is that I ran out of size 8 beads! I'll have to improvise with larger sizes next.

I had the good fortune to be able to take a beaded kumihimo class from Jill Wiseman live and in person. In fact, I took 2 kumihimo classes with Jill! But if you don't have the ability to travel in order to learn this fun beading technique, you can learn everything that I did about beaded kumihimo right at home. Get your copy of Kumihimo With Beads by Designer Of the Year Jill Wiseman, and watch how Jill expertly demonstrates everything you need to know to start making your own beaded kumihimo ropes.

Best of all, Kumihimo With Beads is also available as an instant download, so you can store it right on your favorite desktop or laptop computer, and be watching and learning in just minutes!

Do you love beaded kumihimo? Do you have a tip, a favorite resource, or a favorite tool for beaded kumihimo? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and let's share our advice and experiences with beaded kumihimo!

Bead Happy,


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Marlene@57 wrote
on Mar 26, 2014 8:48 AM

I would like to know where to purchase the weighted bobbins.

Thank you,


Marlene@57 wrote
on Mar 26, 2014 8:48 AM

I would like to know where to purchase the weighted bobbins.

Thank you,


CPencil wrote
on Mar 26, 2014 9:13 AM

When my Kumihimo project is interrupted, I place a penny in the slot for the cord  I am to move next.  This works if my eyes are too tired to figure out where I left off by looking at the woven strands, especially if in a moving car.

Bennec wrote
on Mar 26, 2014 9:29 AM

If you want to try a marudai for your braiding, I made one for about $25. It's unfinished pine so it won't work for fine silks but any other cord works great. Just get two unfinished plates from a hobby store and four 3/4 " dowels. Drill a hole n one plate, cut the dowels to a comfortable length and sand, sand, sand. The plates and dowels don't need any sanding but the hole in the plate will. I used a square of graph paper to judge placement of the dowels and center hole. Cover the screws with decorative stickers and braid away. You can write on the pine with pencil and erase if you need to. Yay!

on Mar 26, 2014 2:41 PM

I would like to know where to purchase the weighted bobbins.

on Mar 26, 2014 2:42 PM

I would like to know where to purchase the weighted bobbins.


Anetfish wrote
on Mar 26, 2014 2:49 PM

Yes, where do you purchase weighted bobbins?  Thanks Annette

on Mar 26, 2014 6:54 PM

I used 4 mm Swarovski for my first Kumihimo with beads necklace but instead of placing the beads on all 8 strands to make it sit better I only placed them on 4 strands and it turned out great.I made a matching bracelet and will be wearing it in July on my wedding day am so happy with it.

Heicke in Australia

systema wrote
on Mar 27, 2014 7:22 AM

Beware of the magnetic fasteners. I made a beautiful beaded bracelet yesterday and  wore it to go to the gym intending to show to my friends. When I got there it had disappeared, think I may have caught it on my handbag strap when I stood up on the bus to get off.

Was most disappointed as it was the nicest (and most expensive) one I have made - done with crystals and pearl beads.

systema wrote
on Mar 27, 2014 7:26 AM

When I want to put my work down I make sure there are 3 strands in the top numbers so I know where I am - bringing the right hand side one down to the bottom.

zoie1234 wrote
on Mar 27, 2014 10:08 AM

I bought mine on Ebay.

on Mar 29, 2014 4:40 PM

Weighted Bobbins:  I made mine from washers from Lowe's.  I asked for the zinc ones (not the lighter weights such as aluminum), 1/2 inch hole in the middle, #9 (as I remember) size.  They are about 1 7/20th inches in diameter (I just measured them, but I took the bobbin with me to Lowe's where a very helpful young man found exactly what I needed -- and was fascinated to learn what I was doing to do with them!)  I bought the plastic bobbins on Amazon, the 1 3/4 inch size.  Since I keep about 3 or 4 Kumihimo disks going at one time, I bought a lot of washers -- they are quite inexpensive.  Then I glued the washers to the back of the bobbins with E6000 glue and left them to dry overnight.  One washer fell off the next day (not enough glue), so I just re-glued it and it is fine now.  Just the right weight.

susand900 wrote
on Mar 29, 2014 7:07 PM

The tip below or above about leaving three cords at the top is the one I usually use when I put my kumihimo down.  I just recently realized how to identify the next cord to move by looking at the current position of the threads.  I have looked for more advanced kumihimo books but they are not easy to find.  I went to a Barnes and Noble and they did not have one single book.  They have some online but I want to look at the projects prior to buying and Amazon does not let you do that.  I bought my kit about 5 years ago and just pulled it out after watching a segment last year on Beads Baubles and Jewels.  It is so easy and very hard to make a mistake or to end up with a loose weave.  I love it.

salla2 wrote
on Mar 30, 2014 5:19 PM

best way I have found for remembering where you are if you have to stop is to stop in the middle of a cycle... so that you have 3 cords right next to each other. Then you know when you come back that you need to move one of those up.

on Mar 30, 2014 7:45 PM

I've been braiding for 5 years.  When using magnets try adding a safety chain to the loops in the end caps.  If not buy your magnets from a reputable vendor and be sure they mention that they are STRONG.

txadney wrote
on Apr 1, 2014 9:43 PM

I tie a fishing weight to the end of my cords.  It is cheap and it helps to keep the correct tension on my braid.  

jet-muis wrote
on Apr 8, 2014 8:41 AM

Hi , i have bought years ago such a tool as well. It was a highly populair tool in the crafting shop. I have made some of those strings, but i like the beads just much better. I haven't tried it out.

I think because i wasn't so pleased with this all.

I think because of the lack of new tutes and just new trents.

I hate all those trends and the problems after all when you start with a new methode too late in time and there isn't any products to find.

Okay this isn't probebly the best motivation for others.

I liked the easyness of it, and this beading is just gorgeous and lovely to make me eager to try it again once ;-D