Easy-to-Do Beadwork: Jewelry, Flowers and Other Projects

Easy-to-Do Beadwork: Jewelry, Flowers and Other Projects


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Easy-to-Do Beadwork: Jewelry, Flowers and Other Projects by Joseph Leeming, Jessie Robinson

A terrific crafting pastime to practice alone or in groups, beading is not only a pleasant hobby, it's also a fun way to earn some extra money. In this handy, abundantly illustrated guide, readers will find scores of delightful project ideas: handbags, earrings, trinket boxes, mosaic pictures, brooches, miniature furniture, dress decorations, and window shade pulls, to name only a few.
While the author's examples may appeal to many adult crafters, the simple instructions make it easy for even grade-schoolers to create attractive items such as necklaces, rope bracelets (currently very popular), greeting cards, belts, and rings. Additional chapters list interesting new ways to use beads in other crafts, such as embroidery, crochet work, and weaving. A final chapter identifies a variety of bead types (cork, acorn, macaroni, rose petal, spool, and more). Simple directions and easy-to-master techniques make this a book that will be treasured by hobbyists and serious crafters alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486446080
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 12/19/2005
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 6.48(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

Easy-to-Do Beadwork

Jewelry, Flowers and Other Projects

By Joseph Leeming, Jessie Robinson

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1982 Joseph Leeming 3d, Una M. Leeming, and Avery Leeming Nagle
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14786-4



While there is an almost limitless variety of beads, the principal kinds used in most beadwork are of a few well-known types.

Seed beads are small round beads about 1/8 inch in diameter, smooth and uniform in size. They are made in almost 350 different colors and shades, and are used for all kinds of woven work, for dress embroidery, and for beaded bags. Other, larger beads are also used for bags.

Cut-lined and luster beads are about the same size as seed beads, but are made of clear glass and are usually six-sided. This gives them a rough surface and more sparkle than seed beads. The lined beads are lined with silver or gold. They are not used for weaving, but are good for necklaces and any decorative work that calls for small beads. These are sometimes called embroidery beads. They are made in about 400 different colors.

Embroidery cut beads or "Charlottes" are much smaller than seed beads and have facets instead of being smooth-sided. They are chiefly used by professional workers for very finely made handbags.

Bugle beads are made of colored glass and are cylindrical in shape. Their length varies from about 1/8 inch to nearly ½ inch. They are useful for making bead flowers and figures, necklaces and bracelets, dress ornaments and bead furniture.

Tile beads are also cylindrical in shape, but are quite large, measuring about ¼ inch wide and ¼ inch high. As a rule, they are made of porcelain. They are used chiefly for making tile bead table mats and coasters, baskets, boxes and belts.

Round wooden beads are very attractive and brightly colored. They come in different sizes, from about ¼ inch in diameter up to ½ inch or more. They are very good for making belts, necklaces, bracelets and handbags, and for decorative work.

In addition to round beads, there are many kinds of oval beads. They are used for jewelry of all kinds and for handbags and belts.

There are also many special beads, such as those made in the shapes of flowers. None of the articles described in this book call for the use of these beads, but if you become interested in beadwork you will probably want to use them in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Where To Get Beads. The most readily available places where you can find assortments of beads are ten-cent stores, department stores, and hobby supply shops. But the best way to become familiar with the hundreds of different kinds of beads that you can use is to get an illustrated catalog or price list from a bead manufacturer or importer. A very large proportion of the beads sold in the United States are made in other countries.

Some manufacturers and importers advertise in the hobby magazines. If these are not available to you, you can ask one of your local department stores or hobby supply shops if they can give you the names of the firms from which they buy beads.

The prices of commonly used types of beads are surprisingly low. Seed beads, cut-lined and luster beads, and bugle beads, for example, cost about 20 cents per 1,000. Many good-quality medium-sized beads of the kinds used in jewelry, belts and handbags cost less than a cent apiece.



Bead weaving or loom beading, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most popular methods of working with beads. It is a very old craft, which the American Indians have practiced for many centuries. The beads that are used for weaving are usually the small, so-called seed beads. These come in all the major colors, including gold.


You can buy ready-made bead looms at stores that sell hobby and craft supplies. They are handy to use and usually are inexpensive, no more than a dollar or two.

Some people do not like these looms because they are almost always short and permit only about six inches of beadwork to be visible at any one time. The finished part of the work is rolled up on a spool at one end as the work goes along. Their shortness is not an important drawback, however, and ready-made looms can be recommended without hesitation for beginners or for those who do not want to go to the trouble of making their own loom.


A 30-inch long loom made from a small board and two blocks of wood, such as the one shown in the drawing, will take care of practically every type of beadwork. It is long enough for headbands, belts and necklace chains, which are usually the longest articles woven with beads. The work and the colors can be seen and measured at all times. Also in a loom like this the beading can be started at the center and worked toward the two ends.

A board and block loom is easy to make. It is best to use some kind of hardwood for the two uprights, and care should be taken in making the fine notches for the warp threads. Use a good sharp knife for cutting the notches.

When the loom has been completed, it is a good idea to paint the bottom board black or dark brown. The beads will show up better against this dark background, and it will make the work a little easier.


Box looms are easy to make and are perfectly adequate for every kind of bead weaving. Their only disadvantage is their short length.

Use a small wooden box about 12 or 15 inches long or, if you can get one easily, use a cigar box. Remove a part of the wood from the two sides to make room for your hand to pass under the beadwork while you are weaving.

Cut 1/16 inch deep notches in each end, spacing 1/16 them inch apart, to hold the warp threads, that is, those that run the long way of the loom. An alternative method is to drive thin nails or brads into the ends of the box as close together as possible. If you use this method, try to leave just enough room for a thread to pass between each nail.

Drive a large-headed nail into one end of the box, as shown in the drawing. Drive four large-headed nails into the opposite end of the box. These nails make it easier to handle the warp threads and keep them from getting tangled up. Instead of having to wait to secure the warp threads until you have put all of them in their notches, you can put three or four in the notches and secure their loose ends on one of the nails, and then go on to the next three or four.

A box loom has no roller on which to wind up the work as it progresses. So before you begin to weave, tie the warp threads together at one end to make a "commencing knot," and this knot is slipped under the nail at the end of the loom. To move the work as needed, tie a piece of string to this knot. With this string the woven work can be drawn over the end of the loom, down over the end, and along underneath the box. The string is wound around one of the nails at the opposite end of the box. This makes it possible to weave a very long piece without the necessity of joining.


The easiest kind of bead loom to make is a cardboard loom. This is simply a piece of stiff cardboard with notches cut in each end, but it is a perfectly adequate loom for bracelets, chains, watch fobs, belts and headbands.

The cardboard backing of a paper pad can be used for this type of loom. You can use a single piece or can glue two pieces together to give added strength and stiffness.

With a sharp knife blade or a razor blade, cut small notches in each end. Then punch two holes in the cardboard, as shown in the drawing, and insert two metal paper fasteners in them. The warp threads are wound around these fasteners while the work is in progress.

To move the beadwork away from the face of the loom as the work progresses, tie a string to the knot formed by tying the warp threads together at the beginning end of the work. This string can be drawn down the back of the loom and wound around the lower paper fastener. This will draw the woven work over the top of the loom, so that the rest of the beadwork piece can be woven.


Before commencing to weave, you should prepare a pattern to serve as a guide. Draw the outline of the piece you are going to weave on a piece of paper and divide it off into ¼-inch squares. Then fill in each square to show what color bead it is to contain. Indicate different colors by using, for example, a dot for red, a circle for blue, an X for green, and so on.

The threads used for the warp should be strong cotton, buttonhole, or linen thread. Special bead needles are best for small beads. If they cannot be obtained, a fine sewing needle, size 8 or 10 is suitable.

Cut each warp thread about 24 inches longer than the total length of the piece you are going to weave. The number of threads used must be one more than the number of beads to be used in the width of the piece. That is, if a chain is to be six beads in width, you will need seven warp threads.

Tie the warp threads together in a knot at one end, and slip the knot under the nail in the end of the loom. Stretch each thread across the loom, pressing it into two corresponding notches at the two ends of the loom. When all the threads are in place, stretch them tight and twist their ends around the nail at the opposite end of the loom. When there are four nails in the other end of the loom, refer to directions on page 11.

For weaving, cut a length of cotton or linen thread as long as you can handle without inconvenience. From two to three feet is usually a good length. Wax this thread and the warp thread with beeswax for added strength.

Tie one end of the thread to the left-hand warp thread, near the end of the loom opposite to you. Then thread the other end through a needle.

Place the beads you are going to use in small dishes, each dish containing a separate color. Or, you may find it a convenience to put them on a piece of sponge rubber, instead of in dishes. This keeps them from sliding around while you are picking them up on the needle.

String the correct number of beads of the right color or colors for the first row onto the weaving thread. Stretch the weaving thread, with the beads on it, toward the right and under all the warp threads. With the left forefinger under the beads, set the beads so that one bead is between each two warp threads.

Pull the weaving thread fairly tight. Then bring the needle up and over the right-hand warp thread and pass the needle and thread back through all the beads above the warp threads. This completes the first row of beads.

String the beads for the next row, and continue weaving in the same way, row after row. As you proceed, you must, of course, check with your pattern guide to make sure that you get beads of the required colors in each row and in the proper order.

If you are making a piece that is longer than the length of the loom, you must move the warp threads along after you have filled them with beads. On a loom with rollers at each end, this is done by winding the beadwork up on one of the rollers. The method used with a box loom or a cardboard loom is explained on page 11.

When the piece you are weaving is completed, tie the end of the weaving thread to the outer warp thread, and remove the piece from the loom. Then tie the warp threads at each end together by twos. That is, knot together the left-hand warp thread and the one to the right of it. Then knot together the two next threads, and so on. This secures the work well.

When each pair of threads has been knotted together, you will sometimes want to tie all the ends together into a firm knot. This is done, for example, in the case of a necklace or bracelet. The knots make solid parts to which ribbons or jewelry fasteners can be stitched.

This is the customary method of finishing off the ends. It is a very good plan, however, to make a narrow selvage at each end of a beaded strip. This adds strength and ribbons and jewelry fasteners can be stitched to the selvage more easily than to a warp-thread knot.

To make a selvage, simply pass the needle attached to the weaving thread over and under the warp threads. Pass the needle to the right and back to the left this way until you have woven a selvage about ¼-inch wide. Make one selvage before you start putting the beads in place, and make another one after you have finished the last row of beads.

If you are going to sew a piece of beadwork to a cloth or leather backing strip, the selvages and the knots are folded under the work before the piece is sewed down.

Sometimes you will use up one piece of weaving thread and will have to start weaving with a new piece. To do this, knot the end of the first piece to the left-hand warp thread. Then knot the new piece to the left-hand outer warp thread and start weaving from that point, just as when you started the first row of beads.


The method described above is the usual method used for all bead weaving. There is, however, a simpler method, which you may want to try out. It can be used for any kind of beadwork article.

Make your pattern on a piece of squared paper, as usual. Then, assuming that you are going to make a narrow chain six beads in width, cut six warp threads. Each thread must be twice as long as the chain, with one to two feet extra.

Wax each thread. Then thread each one onto a needle, using six needles in all. Place the needles at the center of each thread. This will give you six double warp threads. Tie all their ends together in a knot, and slip the knot under the nail at one end of the loom. This should be the end of the loom over which you can draw the finished work. As you proceed with the work, you will want to draw the top, or first rows of beads clear of the face of the loom in order to make room for the succeeding rows.

Now, with the pattern before you, read the pattern from the top downward. String the topmost row of beads first, putting one bead on each double warp thread. Thread on other rows until you have threaded enough beads to reach halfway down across the face of the loom. Then fix the warp threads in the notches in the ends of the loom, and twist the needle ends of the threads around the nail or nails at the opposite end of the loom.

The weaving thread does not need to be especially strong, since the beads are held in place principally by the strong warp threads. You can use cotton thread or silk or embroidery cotton for the weaving thread.

Cut a piece of thread about two feet long and thread one end of it through a needle. Tie the other end to the left-hand warp thread just above the top row of beads. Then weave the needle and thread from left to right—over the first warp thread, under the next, over the next, and so on—above the first row of beads.

Pull the thread all the way through, and then weave back from right to left, below the first row of beads. With the needle, push the next row of beads up close to the thread just woven across, and then weave across from left to right again, below the second row of beads.

When you have finished weaving in all the beads on the warp threads, move the finished work over the end of the loom. Then thread more rows of beads onto the warp threads and continue weaving back and forth between the rows as before.

When you have finished the chain or other piece of work, weave a narrow selvage and remove the piece from the loom. Then tie the ends of the warp threads together, two by two, and finish off by knotting all the loose ends of the warp threads together.


Bead chains and necklaces are usually narrow, ranging in width from five to ten beads. They are among the easiest kinds of beadwork to make, and are good for beginners.

They can be fastened at the back of the neck by two pieces of ribbon stitched to the knots made by tying the warp threads together or to a narrow selvage woven at both ends of the chain. You can also get regular necklace clasps at department stores and hobby supply stores and can stitch these to the ends of the chain.

You can make short chains to fit tightly around your neck, or can make chains two feet or more in length to be worn as necklaces. Long chains can be attractively finished off by adding a bead pendant or a bead tassle, as shown in the drawings.


Headbands are usually from 20 to 30 beads wide and about 18 inches long. There are many fascinating Indian headband designs that are of this width. Some of these are shown in the drawings, and you can find many others in books about Indians and their arts and crafts.

Bead headbands are sewed to strips of heavy cloth, light canvas, felt or leather. Felt from old felt hats or school pennants is very good for this purpose. The strip can be fastened in the back by cords knotted through holes punched in the backing strip, or by hooks and eyes or snap fasteners. Sometimes, the easiest and best of fastenings is a safety pin.


Excerpted from Easy-to-Do Beadwork by Joseph Leeming, Jessie Robinson. Copyright © 1982 Joseph Leeming 3d, Una M. Leeming, and Avery Leeming Nagle. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

I. Types of Beads
II. Bead Weaving
  Ready-made Looms
  Board and Block Looms
  Box Looms
  Cardboard Looms
  Weaving Method
  A Simpler Method
  Woven Chains and Necklaces
  Woven Headbands
  Woven Bracelets
  Woven Belts
  Wrist Straps
  Woven Fobs
  Woven Handbags
  Woven Rings
  A Bead Flag
III. Bead Embroidery
  Embroidery Method
  Indian Method
  Crochet-hook Method
  Embroidery Decorations
  Purse Boxes
  Beaded Cross-stitch
  Greeting Cards
IV. Tile Bead Table Mats and Coasters
  Single-needle Method
  Two-needle Method
  A Hexagonal Mat
  Star-shaped Mats
V. Necklaces and Bracelets
  Of Seed Beads
  Of Medium-sized Beads
  Coil Bead Bracelets
  Bead Circle Bracelets
  Tile Bead Bracelets
  Rope Bracelets
  Black Walnut Necklaces and Braceletes
VI. Rings and Earrings
VII. Handbags and Purses
  Sewed Handbags
  Threaded Handbags
  Bead Handles and Zippers
VIII. Various Articles
  Baskets and Boxes
  Trinket Boxes
  Lapel Gadgets
  Place Cards
  Glamor Safety Pins and Bobby Pins
  Mosaic Pictures
  Name Brooches
  Doll's Jewelry
  Miniature Furniture
  Bead Basket Dress Decorations
  Window Shade Pulls
  Decorated Matchboxes
  Decorations for Small Christmas Trees
  Bead and Button Charms
  A Toy Tumbler
  Scarf Rings
IX. Flowers
  Looped Petal Flowers
  Petals and Leaves
  Bugle Bead Flowers
  Bead and Cork Lapel Ornaments
  Bead Trees
X. All Kinds of Beads
  Magazine Cover Beads
  Sealing Wax Beads
  Crepe-paper Beads
  Peanut Beads
  Spool Beads
  Rose-petal Beads
  Dowel-wood Beads
  Macaroni Beads
  Corn-kernel Beads
  Cork Beads
  Acorn Beads

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