Introduction: Card Woven Ukulele Strap

Card weaving (or tablet weaving) has been used to weave selvedges, tapes, belts, straps, and trim since at least 800 BC. I'm going to walk you through the steps to basic card weaving with a pattern to make a colorful diamond strap for a ukulele. I use a handmade inkle loom and shuttle, but you can also do card weaving with a few clamps and some basic hardware. You can find weaving tablets online, but I find a deck of playing cards works great.


A deck of plastic-coated playing cards

Hole Punch

Permanent marker

String in various colors (I used size 10 crochet thread)


An inkle loom (you can use this instructable or find patterns to build them online)

If you don't have an inkle loom, you can use clamps with dowels, hooks, a chair back, or a belt to attach both ends of your weaving and stretch it tight. See a few basic ideas here.

A shuttle or flat, narrow piece of wood or plastic to tamp down the weft

Step 1: Prepare Your Cards

You will need to prepare 34 cards for this pattern using a hole punch and sharpie.

First, write a number on each card, from 1 - 34. I write the number in the middle of each edge of the card so I can see it from any direction.

Then, you'll need to punch four holes in the card, leaving 3/4" between the hole and the edges on each corner (note, in my example there is a fifth hole, which was put there by the casino who originally used the cards so I wouldn't mark them and then try to use them again. You don't need the fifth hole). I used a hole punch for this, lining each card up with a previously punched card so the holes would match. You can also use a drill press to do them all at once, but it may leave some residue around the edges of the holes.

Label the holes A through D, starting in the upper left corner of the card and progressing clockwise.

Continue until you have 34 marked and punched cards

Step 2: Review the Pattern

There are a few vital pieces of a card weaving pattern.

First, you'll notice that there are numbers, 1-34, across the bottom. The columns above each number show the thread pattern for that card.

On the side, you'll see letters A through D, showing which colors go in which holes on the card. Along the top of the pattern, you'll see either an S or a Z. This indicates the direction the threads will pass through the card.

For an S card, you'll pull the threads up from behind the card and pull them to the left. For a Z card, you'll push the thread down from the front and then pull to the left (see pictures if you're confused).

Step 3: Warp Your Loom

In weaving, the warp is the long threads that you put tension on, while the weft is the horizontal thread that you weave back and forth. Before you warp your loom, you'll need to decide how long you want your strap to be and then add at least 16 inches of extra space to work with. If you're weaving on a loom, figure out how many zig zags you need to take to reach the desired length. For a clamped setup on a table, just measure the length and clamp down two dowels, hooks, or bars the correct distance apart to tie the thread to.

Pull a piece of thread across your loom the distance you plan to go, leaving several inches on each end to tie a knot with before cutting the thread. Then use this piece to measure the rest of the thread you need. I like to cut four pieces and add the next card to the loom before cutting more thread. This keeps my threads from being a tangled mess while I work. If you can lay all the pieces out (and not have a cat make a nest of them), you can cut all of them at once.

Following your pattern, select the correct card and cut four threads to match the corresponding colors. Pull the threads through the card in either the S or the Z pattern, then tie all four ends on the left in a knot. Loop the knot over the tension rod on your loom to hold it in place while you wrap the threads around the loom, leaving the card near the starting point. Come back full circle, remove the tied end from the rod and then tie the two ends together on the outside of the rod, creating a tight circle of thread that can be pulled up or down to go around the loom. If you're warping in a straight line, just tie each end of the bundled threads to an end of your setup.

Continue with each card in turn until you've finished all 34.

Step 4: Thread Your Shuttle

If you have a shuttle, wrap more thread around it to form your weft. This thread should be black (or the same color as the outside of your pattern, if you've changed the colors). If you don't have a shuttle that is conducive to wrapping, you'll just need a bundle of weft that can be passed through the shed (open part of warp).

If you're wrapping a shuttle, make sure you're wrapping around the thicker edge, leaving the narrow edge to tamp down the weft.

Step 5: Begin Weaving

Before you start weaving, you'll want to have a straight line to tamp the weft down onto. I like to use an extra playing card. With your pack of cards facing up (A and B on top), place a card between the upper and lower threads and push it down to the rod. Then turn the card pack forward once so the D and A are facing up and the card is pinned down.

Thread your weft through the shed and tamp it down with your shuttle, leaving several inches of thread dangling on one side.

Turn the entire pack forward so C and D are facing up. Thread the weft and shuttle back through, and pull the dangling end through the other direction. Pull on both ends to tighten your weave and tamp down with the shuttle.

Turn forward so B and C are facing up and repeat with the weft and end.

Turn forward so A and B are facing up, weave the weft in and tamp down (continue threading the loose end back and forth until there isn't enough to pull through. Then clip the end).

Finally, turn forward one last time so D and A are facing up. This is home base. Weave in the weft again and tamp down.

Step 6: Continue Weaving, Turning the Body Back 4 and Forward 4

After turning the pack forward 4 times and returning to the DA position, you're going to reverse the pattern. The borders, however, always turn forward. So you'll need to separate the pack. Pull cards 1-3 and 32-34 up and away from your weave, leaving the rest of the pack below. The top cards will rotate forward, while the lower cards rotate backward.

Turn 1-3 and 32-34 forward to the CD position and turn 4-31 backward to the AB position. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward and the middle pack back again. They'll both end up on the BC side. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward to AB and the middle pack to CD. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Turn the borders forward and middle pack back one more time, so both are back on DA. Weave in your weft and tamp down.

Combine the three stacks of cards back into one. For the next four turns, they'll all go forward (like the first set of weaves you did).

Continue weaving four turns at a time, alternating between all cards turning forward and the middle pack going backward.

Step 7: Finish the Strap

Once your strap has reached your desired length, you'll need to finish the end and cut the strap off the loom.

Cut the weft thread, leaving a few inches to thread back into the weave.

Thread the leftover weft end onto a needle and push the weft back into the body of your weave, going back and forth until you run out of weft. Clip off any extra. This will secure the end so your strap doesn't unravel.

Cut the strap off the loom, leaving fringe on each end. The length of the fringe is up to you.

You can finish the ends of your strap however you'd like to fit your ukulele by adding leather ends or braiding or tying the ends and looping to the instrument.

Warning: weaving is addictive. Enjoy your handmade uke strap!

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