Retro bead craft: How to make your own jewelry with bead weaving (1972)

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Vintage crafts - How to make your own jewelry with bead weaving (1972)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Make your own jewelry – vintage style!

Create your own distinctive beaded jewelry by weaving it on a basic box loom. You can make an assortment of bracelets, necklaces, belts, headbands — even bags and small tapestries. The designs can be as simple or complex as you like — the only limits are your time and imagination.

The actual weaving is easy, but it does require time and patience to complete most projects.

You can either buy an inexpensive bead loom or make one of scrap lumber and a yardstick. If you build your own, you can make it any size you like. For beads, choose from a variety of shapes and sizes found in art, toy and hobby stores, and collect others from old bags, clothing or jewelry.

The beads pictured are Japanese seed beads. To make your own patterns, plot the design on graph paper and mark the colors with dots of paint or colored pencils.

Retro bead craft: How to make your own jewelry with bead weaving (1972)

Retro bead craft: Loom directions

STEP 1. To make loom shown, butt-joint two pieces of 4×14-inch plywood to 14×18-inch base. Notch top edge of two pieces of yardstick into 1/8-inch segments. Attach yardsticks to inside top of frame sides, with notched edges raised above sides. Thread nail through a large bead and nail into each side of base.

STEP 2. To warp loom (fasten lengthwise threads), estimate finished length of project and add extra thread for knotting ends. Choose nylon beading thread and long bead needles.

STEP 3. For a symmetrical design, you’ll need a center point with the same number of beads on each side — i.e., an uneven number of beads in the crosswise rows. This requires an even number of warp threads. Double outer two warp threads for strong border.

STEP 4. Tie end of thread bundle to nail at bottom of loom, spreading threads through notches. Pull taut and wind extra thread around nail at other end of loom and secure with string. Select beads and put in muffin tins.

Vintage bead weaving craft how-to from 1972 (1)

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STEP 5. Length of weft thread (crosswise thread) is optional, though 30 inches is common. Tie thread to left side of warp with a lark’s head knot. Pull tight. leaving about 4 inches on short end.

Thread beads under warp and push them up so they are positioned between the lengthwise threads. Bring weft up over right border, then back through beads on top of warp to lock row in place. Continue working pattern a row at a time. adjusting beads evenly.

STEP 6. On narrow strips, the entire row can be pushed up between warp threads and locked in place with one insertion of needle. On wide strips, go through only 5-6 beads at a time.

After a few rows are done, draw loose end of thread through several beads in an adjacent row and clip short. Reweave all loose ends.

Bead weaving

STEP 7. To decrease width of a strip or split it into a V, step it down one head at a time, tying in warp threads as you go. Always work a few inches of straight strips first, then go back and work slanted tips.

STEP 8. When weaving straps for neck, complete one strap, then turn the work around to make the other. To finish off inside diagonal edges, cut surplus warp from loom and weave threads back into adjacent rows of beads one at a time; clip short.

STEP 9. To join straps, turn necklace to wrong side and bring ends together. Tie matching pairs of warp threads tightly, leaving a 1/8-inch space between last rows of beads. One at a time. weave loose ends in and out to make a firm. fiat seam. then clip short.

You can’t bead every warp thread to make a bottom fringe, or fringe will be too wide. Compensate by using a double strand of warp every two or three rows.

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