It can be difficult to find free loom beading patterns on the Internet. I think that's because loom beading hasn't taken off in quite the way that regular beading has, even though it is still a hugely popular craft. Because the patterns are intricate and take a lot more time to design, I think people are reluctant to offer free loom beading patterns as well. But we've scoured the web to find you some places with the best free loom beading patterns out there.
What is Loom Beading?
For those of you who've never tried loom beading, let me offer a quick explanation.
A bead loom is a device with some kind of grooves or nails on the sides that are used to catch the individual threads used in the pattern. (To make your own loom, check out this cool site.) Loom beading allows you to create a pattern across multiple rows of thread at the same time. Usually very small synthetic thread and seed beads are used to form a design.
Loom beading can be done from a pattern or chart or, when you have more experience, you may be able to make a design freehand, or as you go. Similar techniques are used in bead weaving, which is performed off the loom with multiple strands of thread.
Loom beading is an ancient art form found in ancient American and African societies. The Egyptians are among the first to practice bead weaving. Either of these techniques not only gives you some very interesting wearable art, it also connects you to the world of crafters going back hundreds of generations.
A Basic Free Loom Beading Pattern
If you are new to loom beading, you will probably want to start with a very basic pattern in order to get the hang of the technique. Once you have your warp threads set up on the loom (the procedure will be a little different depending on the type of loom you have) thread a beading needle with a long length of thread.
- Place as many beads on the needle as you need to fill all the spaces between the threads on your loom. It's a good idea to use an odd number of beads (an even number of threads) because this makes designing symmetrical patterns a lot easier.
- Position the beads, still on the needle, where they need to go in the spaces between the threads, but such that the needle in under the threads.
- Pull the needle through the beads and hold the beads in place with your finger as you thread the needle back through each bead, this time going above the loom threads.
- Repeat step 3 over and over until the piece is as long as you like. To make a design, change colors every few rows or add horizontal stripes by adding a bead or two of a different color to each row. The idea is not to make an intricate design but to get the technique down.
- To finish the project, bead to the desired length, loosen the tension or your loom and lift the work off the loom. Weave in the ends on the sides where you replaced your beading thread and then just use a thicker thread to tie the threads together at each end.
- Braid the thicker thread with the group of loom threads before tying off with a knot.
You could also back your work with a piece of ribbon and finish it just by sewing the end threads into your ribbon. Use your first project as a bookmark or bracelet.
If you need further instructions on the basics, check out this workshop from Suzanne Cooper.
Free Loom Beading Patterns
Once you're ready to try a real pattern, here are some sources to look at:
- This page has a couple of peace-inspired patterns.
- This site has a variety of charts if you keep clicking. They are kind of hard to read, but will give you a great idea of what's possible with loom beading.
- This one has some lovely Indian inspired designs, as well as a cool rune pattern.
- At Rings and Things you can find an excellent alphabet chart so you can bead a person's name or a special message quickly and easily.
Loom beading is a little more challenging than regular beading on one string, but it is a lot of fun to see these wonderful patterns come to life in beads, and free loom beading patterns are a wonderful way to practice.