Tuesday, 12 May 2015

New technique :: Bead woven flowers

During my trip to York at Easter we spent some time browsing in the Oxfam bookshop. For once it was me that came away with all the purchases including this book - although slightly battered it was a bargain at £5. I thought this was a perfect way of trying a new bead weaving technique for my 'craft of the month' project'.

When I got home I tried out a couple of designs and will try out some of the others in the future. But I'm just not sure what I'll do with all the finished flowers ... I'll be scouring Pinterest until some inspiration strikes!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Out and about :: A brief trip to York

In the years that I've been with my other half I've learned that if he says 'do you fancy a weekend in ...' it is normally because there is a football match in that place and he hasn't convinced his mates to take the trip with him.

For the Easter weekend the plan was to travel up to York on Thursday, for him to see a match in York on Friday before travelling on to Barnsley for his team's match on Saturday.

It was lovely and sunny on Thursday so we headed off to Clifford's Tower.

The hillside was covered in daffodils and geese were roaming around including some cute cygnets.

On Friday after a visit to the Jorvik viking centre we wondered towards the Minster. It being Good Friday they were letting people in for free (normally £10) there was a service going on though so we had to be on our best behaviour.

One lower league football match live in a weekend is enough for me so in the afternoon I took myself off to York's Quilt Museum while my other half headed to the match. It's only relatively recently that I've become interested in making quilts, although I've long admired their geometric designs.

The quilt museum is set in the upstairs of an old hall which is a wonderful space.

Source: The Times
The museum had three exhibitions on when I visited:
  • All shapes and sizes which included a range of modern and vintage quilts
  • 'Chinese whispers' - the concept of this was that one quilter was given a photo as inspiration to make a quilt, when that quilt was finished they quilter took a photo of their finished item to send to the next quilter and so on
  • Voices from the Inside which was fascinating exhibition of quilts created by prisoners
These exhibitions are all on until 9th May, so if you have an interest in crafts and are in the area it is well worth a visit - I just wish I'd taken my sketchbook to jot down a few ideas.

There is also a great shop in the quilt museum, I limited my purchases and just bought a Japanese style Sashiko quilting kit. I've stitched the design on the sashiko cotton and it looks great. The next step is to add the lining and fastening.

We stayed in York Central Travelodge which was in the edge of the shopping district but just a short walk. It also has a great range of eateries nearby - we tried Mumbai Lounge and Barbakan which were both amazing - if you are planning on going to either of these places I would recommend you book ahead as they were both very popular.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Skill sharer :: 8 ways to finish bead woven bracelets

Ages ago I saw a post on Thanks, I Made It about beaded bracelet inspiration.

What struck me was not only the beautiful design, but the different ways of finishing the bracelets that had been selected as inspiration.

So here we go with the variety of ways to finish a woven bead bracelet ...

1. Raw warp threads
I've called this method raw warp threads as you couldn't get a more basic finish than this, although the addition of the large bead before the knotting of the warp threads together makes a really interesting feature. I'm not sure I'd use this method myself because of the potential for tangles, but you could probably resolve this by knotting again at end of the threads.

2. Plaited warp threads
All you do is make sure that your warp threads are long enough for both the beading and to plait together at the end - better to err on the side of caution and have the threads too long than too short.
Before you start plaiting you can secure the beadwork in two ways:
1) one single knot at the end
2) pairs of threads knotted together

Generally this method works better for slimmer bracelets and is fastened to the wrist using a simple knot. However, this can sometimes be a little difficult to do up and undo again (unless you have someone to help you). A slight alternative to the first method is a combination of plaited warp threads with a clasp added on the end.

These bracelets look like they use both techniques - knotting the warp threads in pairs before then knotting all the threads together in one knot. Love the colours used here - especially the gold, turquoise and white one on the left.

The technique here is to add a clasp to the end of the plaited warp threads. It is a way of making a feature of a short piece of beadwork and would probably work quite well with a slim piece of beadwork and some thicker warp threads. If you look really closely between the beadwork and the top of the plait the weft thread has been woven amongst the warp threads to create a triangle shape which is secured with a crimp bead.

3. Loop and bead/button
This is another of my favourite method of fastening bead loom bracelets, I like it because it keeps the bracelet as an integral piece of beadwork, rather than adding any non-bead findings. You can also use this method on relatively short warp threads as you can always weave those in and add an additional thread to create the fastening. This is a off loom woven bracelet that I made. I posted a tutorial on how to make a bead woven bracelet using this finishing technique here.

It works well with both slim pieces and much wider pieces, as you can add several loops and bead fastenings such as with this one.

4. Waxed cord finish
This alternative way of finishing the bracelet is made by adding some waxed cord. This is difficult to add just by stitching as the waxed cord is a completely different thickness to the thread used on the bead loom so the one in this picture is most likely glued.

There are plenty of bead woven bracelets that incorporate waxed or leather cord into the design such as these ones.

5. Direct clasp
With this method you weave a pointed end at each end of the beadwork. The it's just a matter of weaving in all the warp threads so you just have a flat length of beadwork.
Once you have that you add a jump ring to the beadwork and add the two ends of the clasp.
Love the border effect on this design as well as the use of a snap clasp to finish.

6. Ribbon crimp ends
I've only just 'discovered' ribbon crimps after my last trip to the bead shop, and I've not yet had a chance to use them myself, but there are plenty of great examples on the web. From what I've see the key is to weave a length of the weft thread along the warp threads to give the crimp something to grasp.
This example uses ribbon crimp ends with a short piece of beadwork and then uses the crimp ends to attach a chunky chain.

7. Leather (or fabric) ends
A traditional way the finish bead loom bracelets is to sew leather to the ends to cover the warp threads.
This example fastens the bracelet with a button. Again weaving the weft thread across the warp threads for a centimetre or two would give you something to stitch the leather too.

I found a similar bracelet to this in the online collection of the Museum of the American Indian. If you have an interest in bead weaving I recommend you spend some time browsing their collection - they have some amazing pieces.

You can also add leather tie ends such as in this example.This gives a more traditional native American feel to this bracelet, there is a bracelet with a similar fastening (although made with different materials) in the NMAI collection.

8. Sewing to felt (or leather or fabric) backing
This technique is great when you are wanting to make a cuff type bracelet that involves quite a wide piece of beadwork such as this example.

Are there any techniques for finishing bead woven bracelets that you use that I've not covered - it would be great to hear about them.

All images above are from Pinterest and the links take you to the pins that I found - a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Tutorial :: Your first bead weaving project

I struggled to find new bead weaving projects for myself to help me improve my own bead weaving skills as part of my 'craft of the month' so I thought I'd post something to help others who've never tried this craft before. Here's a little tutorial on how to make a beautiful beaded bracelet such as this...

shiny silver bead loom bracelet

Gather your materials

materials needed to make a bead loom bracelet

You will need a bead loom, beading thread, beading needle, beads, a bead tray (I use the top from a tub of Pringles), a large bead, sharp scissors and a tape measure (to make sure your warp threads are the right length for your bracelet).

If you don't have a bead loom try using an embroidery hoop such as in this tutorial.

Decide how many beads wide you want your bracelet. You'll need one more warp thread than you have beads. Measure round your wrist and then add about 20 cm. Cut the warp threads all the same length and then tie them together in a knot at each end making sure that the tension of the threads is fairly even.

Setting up your loom

setting up a bead loom

Hook your knotted end over the sticky out bit on your loom (I'm sure there's a technical term but you know what I mean). Wind the threads round the roller being careful not to twist the threads too much.
Tighten each roller until you have good tension. Then start spacing out the warp threads.

Making your first row

Making your first row

Before you can start weaving you need to add your weft thread. To do this simply knot it to the outermost warp thread on the left hand side (if you are right handed). Now is the time to thread your beading needle. Beading needles are very fine and that means they have a very small eye so take your time to thread it - there are some good tips here.

Thread on the number of beads you need to fill all the gaps between the warp threads - in my example the bracelet is 5 beads wide. Pass your needle underneath the warp threads and push the beads up between the warp threads.

The pass your needle back through the beads making sure as you pass the needle through the holes it is above the warp thread as this is how the beads are secured - with the weft thread passing both below and above the warp threads.

Changing threads and adding length

adding more rows to your bracelet

However long you cut your weft thread (if you cut it too long you'll get tangles) you'll need to change threads. Just tie of the old thread, leaving enough tail to weave it in at the end. Then add another weft thread just like you did earlier (you'll weave in the ends later). And keep going adding rows until your bracelet is the right length. After the last row, secure your weft thread with a knot on the warp thread.

Finishing off

Take your beadwork off the loom. Start by weaving in all the weft thread ends. To weave in just pass the needle back through enough beads until it is secure (you can also knot between beads to secure the thread). You'll use some of the warp threads ends to create the fastening. Thread the middle two warp threads of one end onto the needle. The thread on three small beads, the large bead and one further small bead. Pass the needle back through these beads (skipping the last bead you added as this will secure the fastening. Then weave in the warp threads at this end of the bracelet.

Now switch to the other end of the bracelet where you'll add the loop part of the fastening. As with the other end, take the middle two warp threads and pass them through the eye of the needle. You need to add enough small beads to create a loop that the big bead just fits through. Then pass the needle back through a few beads to create the loop. Weave in the ends. Once you've woven in all the ends trim them as close to the beadwork as possible without accidentally snipping any of the warp of weft threads and you have one finished bracelet ...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Friday, 1 May 2015

Update :: Craft of the month - bead weaving

So I had designated bead weaving as my craft of the month for March and April. Things didn't go quite as I planned on the craft front during April due to a short break to York and then a couple of weekends when I had to be at the office.

As most of my crafting and blogging takes place on the weekends this seriously hampered my progress on my goal of improving my bead weaving skills. I have a heap of half written posts about bead weaving that I'll publish over the next couple of weeks. So my bead weaving craft of the month will continue for a little bit longer!