Kumihimo tricks and tips

15 May

The lady at the bead shop told us in the spring of 2012 that we were about a year ahead of the kumihimo trend. When we first started making bracelets with buttons we could only find one other person incorporating a button in their kumihimo design and the way they finished off the bracelet was completely different. Well, it looks like the lady at the bead store was prophetic! We are amazed at the kumihimo and button creations showing up on Google and Etsy these days.

Now that the kumihimo trend has caught on, I thought it would be nice to share some tips and tricks we learned along the way.

1. If you use Magatama beads, you will need a bit more C-Lon then just seed beads. Adjust the length of your cord for larger or smaller beads accordingly. The larger the bead, the more cord you need.
2. We usually measure one strand of C-Lon or S-Lon by measuring it from our hand to shoulder with arm extended.
3. I like to measure all eight strands at the same time and then cut once, keeping four strands doubled (to make eight strands). This way I can thread the strand through the button holes and have eight strands ready to go.
4. At the beginning, don’t braid more than 1/8″ or your button will stick out. You want the button to lay as flat as possible on the wrist for comfort.
5. Be sure to keep your cord taught on the loom. This will keep your design uniform.
5. If you need to take a break, do it when you have three cords at one spot. Then you will know right where to pick back up.
6. When finishing, use a good glue and be sure your knot is secure.
7. If you run out of cording, you are toast. You can always add beads but not cording.
8. Remember your cording will show, so match it to the beads or button.
9. If you miss a bead and don’t find it until after the piece is done, you can add a bead by threading cording and a bead on a needle and working it into the missed space. Just run your cord through a few beads on either side and secure with a hidden knot, like in sewing.
10. Don’t make your finished loop too long. If you do (we did this many times at first), go back and re-tie your finish knot, cut off the excess, and be sure the loop is just barely big enough to fit around the button. Otherwise your bracelet will look odd.

Hope these tips and tricks make your kumihimo experience a bit easier. Enjoy!

View our creations on Etsy



10 Responses to “Kumihimo tricks and tips”

  1. Maureen February 24, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    I love your bracelets. I find them a lot more artistically pleasing than using ALL magatamas. I have been making some with just two strands of the magatamas and other size 6 and 8 seed beads. Do you get your buttons form anywhere in particular? They are beautiful.


    • mdndsn February 24, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      So glad you like our bracelets! Our buttons are from family collections. Many have special meaning, (I remember one brown button from a coat my mother wore.) We love finding just the right button to go with the beads and cord creating a unique color combination. Thank you for your kind comment.


  2. katherine forrestall February 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Lovely work ! I am a rank beginner , but have a kumihimo question . I have trouble working with S Lon. It loosens in my disc. It literally won’t combine with other materials… particularly rattail or yarn . Waxed thread is much easier to use. Using only S Lon on. Project produces. Tiny. Tight braid , not attractive … What am I doing wrong ? have tried tightening n lossening my tension . HV tried different bead , thread combinations, to no avail ! Can you help


    • mdndsn March 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      I hope I can help. Are you winding your thread or cord around the plastic bobbins before you begin? The weight of the bobbins is critical in holding the tension as you work. Also be sure you have a weight in the middle, like a clamp, holding the tension on the cords down the center of your project. Another tip is to place your hand like a clamp on the kumihimo disk to keep the cords in place while you move the active cord from side to side. It is tricky when combining materials in your braid. We prefer the s or c-lon because of its thicker consistency, non raveling and end result. Whatever cord you use should work, some are harder to combine than others. Hang in there.

      Happy braiding!


  3. Rhonda July 7, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Love your website and happened upon it while researching c-lon versus salon cord. When finishing the loop on you bracelet, how do you attach it?


    • mdndsn July 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      Hi Rhonda,

      Glad you found our website.

      Once we’ve finished braiding the beads onto the bracelet, we braid about another inch of just C-lon to finish (enough to fit around the button). Then we fold (loop) the braid over, wrap it with a single piece of C-lon, tie it off, and glue the loop and wrap in place. I’m not sure what the wrap knot is called but I think it’s a standard finish knot.

      Hope that answered your question,



      • Rhonda July 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

        Thank you so much for the quick response! Seems pretty straightforward.


  4. MEM August 12, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    Any tips and tricks to figure out how long to make the bracelet? I am doing only my second bracelet. The thick diameter from the magatamas and seed beads on the first bracelet made it almost too small. I am using a button and loop clasp. With it on a loom, it’s hard to wrap around your wrist and check sizing like I do with bead weaving. Thank you!! Your work is beautiful!!


    • mdndsn August 13, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      There is no exact science to this. There are many variables such as size of bead, size of button.

      Here are a few more tips and tricks we use:

      Curving the bracelet around shrinks the inside diameter of the bracelet (think of a flat piece of metal curved into a ring, the outside is going to be larger then the inside).

      We usually use 35 beads per strand when working with magatamas.

      The size of the button also impacts the final length of the bracelet because it determines the length of the loop closure which adds to the overall length. The larger the button, the larger the loop.

      Measure wrist then add 3/8″ to 1/2″, that should help determine the length of the beaded strand leaving room to add to the inside diameter.

      Remember the size of the beads are part of the equation,(the smaller the bead, the more beads needed).

      Hope that helps.


      • MEM August 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

        Yes, I think this info sounds very helpful! I will give it a try. I appreciate the tips you’ve given, and this extra info you’ve taken the time to give me. Very kind and generous!! Thank you!!! I’m excited to have discovered this art form, and your work is beautiful.


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