Weaving Techniques

Weaving Techniques || Adding Beads to your Weave

How to Add Beads to a Pile WeaveJudging from the amount of times I get asked about this, I think it’s about time we explored adding beads to weaves!My first thought was, sounds easy enough. I picked out some cute coral-like beads with a weave design in mind and then I attempted the weave…twice! It turns out adding beads wasn’t as easy as I had first thought, but I got there in the end and I’m more then happy to share what I learned from this attempt.

The first thing I should point out is that my issues with adding beads all fell around the fact that my beads were somewhat heavy. Well, heavy compared to my yarn. If I were working with a lighter bead or sequin then I would not have had so much trouble.

I’ll definitely play around with beading some more, but for this first attempt I wanted to add beads to a pile weave (pile weave steps can be found in this post). I know it may have been too ambitious for my first beaded weave, but after a lot of frustration I got it to work, lol. So here are my steps:

step 1| I wove the whole base of my weave first, which includes the pile weave and the foundation to hold the loops together. I did this so that I could add the beads in where they visually looked best and also the weave would support the beads where I placed them. When I tried to add the beads before weaving, they kept sinking under the yarn as I went and that didn’t work out very well.

How to Add Beads to a Pile Weavestep 2| Once my weave was more or less complete, I cut a long piece of sewing thread and a piece of warp thread that matched my weave in color. Using my tapestry needle I pulled the two threads, side by side, through the back of my weave to the front. This is easily done by pulling the two threads in between a gap in the weft threads and to the left side of a warp thread. Don’t forget to leave a 3 inch end tail in the back of the weave that will be tucked in later. You can place the threads anywhere in your weave to achieve the design you’re looking for.

How to Add Beads to a Pile Weavestep 3| Once the two threads were pulled through the area, using a sewing needle I strung my bead onto the sewing thread. The warp thread was used along with the strung bead to give it some more bulk and support, since sewing thread is so light weight. If my bead holes were larger I would have just strung the bead directly onto the warp thread.

step 4| I slide my bead to where I wanted it to hang in the pile loops. I then tied the two threads in a single knot to hold the bead in place (I don’t want it sliding around on it’s loop and possibly hiding in the yarn).

step 5| next, using my tapestry needle again, I bring the two threads through the front of the weave to the back. So the two threads are coming between the weft threads, on the left side of a warp thread. With the bead on, the two threads are then passed on the right side of the warp thread and again between the same rows of weft threads. My bead is tied to the middle of the loop I just created.

How to Add Beads to a Pile WeaveI added more beads by following the exact same process, then I secured and trimmed my end threads when done. You might noticed that in my step pictures there is less pile loops. I did this to hopefully help show the steps, although the loops covered a lot. Later I re-did my weave to add a lot more pile loops, which I feel like really nice with the beads just peeking out.

I like what the beads add to the weave and will be trying some other ways to add beads, there are a lot of fun possibilities. Have you added beads to your weaves before? Did you also have trouble in the beginning like I did or did you get it right the first time? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Weaving!


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  • Caroline
    February 2, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    If you are using a wool weft, or something soft, a wide-eyed bead needle is very handy, these are the ones that look like 2 pieces of wire soldered together at each end, rather than a proper sewing needle. These needles adapt to any yarn you are using and woolen-type yarn is very forgiving when squashed and manhandled. Otherwise, another length of the weft yarn you are using, already threaded with beads, can be used for the rows where you want beads and it gives you a chance to place the beads where you want and embed the beads into the weaving with the return shot of yarn. You can use this to make patterns like diamonds or circles, or just random bits of bling. Tempting as it is, using large glass beads makes for a lot of stress on the warp or weft, and resin does not always have the same charm as the real thing, but coloured textas, particularly in gold or silver, can alter the look of some beads dramatically so don’t be scared of repainting them then giving them a coat of gloss gel medium. The other thing to consider are bugle beads; lovely to look at and most of them cut your weft very efficiently as the piece moves around! You can either sand them, a thankless task, or substitute plastic or resin. Don’t overlook the impact gem chips can make either, agate and some of the others come in varied colours or there are transparent ones like amethyst and garnet that have wonderful warm colours. You can also make string dangles of seed beads that look terrific or add beaded tassels. Plenty of things to try, and so many beads to choose from, and one of the best sources of unusual beads are the thrift shops where you will pay a fraction of the cost for unique beads that are no longer in production.
    Happy weaving!

    • Kate
      February 9, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks Caroline! I need to look for a beading needle, that sounds so much easier. And thanks for your advice on different bead materials, I always appreciate when you share your knowledge.

  • Nathalie Quêtu
    February 3, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Merci, merci pour ces merveilleux conseils ! J’adore votre site…
    Thank you, thank you for these wonderful tips! I love your site …

    • Kate
      February 9, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you!