Introduction: Woven Bracelet
Learn how to make a beautiful handwoven friendship bracelet for you and your friends. These bracelets are easy and really fun to make. You can start off with a simple design and make them more elaborate as you become more familiar and comfortable with the process. They take about an hour or so to make, depending on how wide you make yours. All you need is some embroidery floss, a loom, scissors, and a needle to get started!
Embroidery Floss / Thread (Experiment with different widths and textures of threads)
Loom (or a makeshift loom - If you do not have a loom you can make one using cardboard. If you search online you will find several tutorials on how to make various simple looms from cardboard to popsicle sticks. The loom used for this tutorial is from Etsy and a bit bigger than you will actually need for a bracelet, but it works).
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Decide on the colors and textures of thread you want to use for the bracelet you are making, you can always add or take away a color as you work on it. You can make it one solid color or as many different colors as you'd like to add. I usually have an idea of what I want to do beforehand, but allow myself room to change it up as I go, adding a shape or line of color here and there.
Step 2: Prepare the Loom
I usually use a thinner - stronger thread to warp (warp is the thread stretched on the loom that holds everything together) the loom. For this bracelet, I am using black thread to warp the loom. It helps to use a different color than your weft (weft is the thread that is woven into the warp to create the bracelet, this doesn't need to be as strong as the warp thread). For the weft, I am using embroidery floss, including a gold floss that is a bit stiffer than traditional floss.
Warp the loom, starting by tying the thread to the loom peg. Then, tightly wrap the thread from one end of the loom to the other. Make sure the tension is even on all the strings. The length of the thread will be determined by your loom, just make sure it's long enough to make a bracelet. How many strings you have going vertically on your loom will depend on how wide you want your bracelet. I have eleven total for this bracelet, which makes a bracelet that is about an inch wide. Once all of your threads are in place tie the other end to the loom, making sure it's tight.
Step 3: Weave
Once the loom is warped you are ready to weave. This weaving pattern I show you here is called the tabby or plain weave, it's the most basic type of weaving and creates a strong, beautiful texture. Different weaves create different fabrics, you can experiment more once you get the hang of the tabby weave. It is created by going over then under the warp and repeating it each time. Over, under, over, under, over, under to create the weave.
Start off by tying your embroidery floss to the outside of one of the warp threads. I use a piece of tape to begin to tighten my warp a bit to make it easier to get the tension under control while the embroidery floss is woven onto the warp. After a few rows, once the floss is in place I then remove the tape. With your needle and floss, start by going under one thread then over the next and under the next and so on. Be sure to keep the tension even as you go, this will become easier the more you do it.
Step 4: Continue Weaving
You can weave the entire bracelet using one color or add more colors as you go. If you run out of thread just start where left off, you don't need to tie the thread on, the tension created as you weave will keep the thread in place. You can trim the excess thread as you go or leave it all, as I do, until the end, and then trim it off.
Step 5: Adding a Shape
Adding a line or shape to your bracelet can make it feel more personal. For this bracelet, I wanted to add a golden full moon shape. I started by looping the gold thread around the central thread, then going below that loop to the next line down from there and weaving in and out of three strands of thread, making sure to loop the correct direction as not to unweave the thread. I continue weaving down the bracelet, getting wider with the gold thread as I go until I reach the middle point of the shape, then I decrease strands to form the circular shape, making sure the tension is just right. Once you finish the shape you can move it down slightly to weave around it, then tightly sliding it back into place, once the area around it has been woven in. Keep in mind it's still the same plain weave for the entire bracelet. It can be a little tricky filling in a space that isn't a straight weave, but with practice, you will see it's pretty simple and forgiving once you slide everything into place. You can weave small shapes here and there and weave around them as you go. Once you get the hang of it you can even weave the shapes of letters to form short words on your bracelet.
Step 6: Weave + Trim
Continue weaving until you feel that your bracelet is long enough for the wrist you are making it for. Once you are to the end you can tie the last thread around an outside string to secure it in place. If you haven't already you can trim all the excess threads off now, getting as close to the bracelet as you can with the scissors.
Step 7: Braid the Remaining Strings to Finish
Once you have trimmed all the excess threads you can now cut the bottom row of thread from the loom. Snip every other thread from the loom only on one end. Now you are ready to braid the warp thread at the bottom end of the bracelet. Finish braiding to the end and knot the braid at the very bottom, trim off any extra thread from the knot. Next, snip the top of the warp thread from the loom. I use the knot from the first braid to secure it in place on the loom to braid the other end. Braid it as you did on the opposite side, tying a knot to the end. If your tension was tighter on one side you may need to redistribute the threads a little by pulling them down or pushing them up in a certain area to get the bracelet to lie completely flat.
Step 8: It's DONE!
Tie your bracelet to your or your friend's wrist and show it off! I like to double knot it in a fisherman's style sliding knot so I can take it off when needed. To do this you can wrap one end of the braid around the opposite braid and overhand knot it and pull it tight, but not too tight that it won't slide. I then do the same thing with the other, untied side. If done correctly the strings should tighten when pulled in opposite directions.
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