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.

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