Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kumihimo - a fun way to braid

Have you ever been to a convention or craft show where you had to wear a badge on a lanyard to get access to different areas of the show?

Frustratingly, mine always flips itself over to the back so that when you meet someone and they look down at your name badge, all they see is the back of it. It doesn't seem to matter which way I wear it, it always flips itself over again. 

Not surprising really, as they are usually secured by just one point at the top of the badge and no amount of fiddling with it will prevent this phenomenon from happening. 

I decided that enough was enough! 

I made my own braided lanyard cord using a Kumihimo disk and colourful satin cord. The cords are attached to the two corners instead of the middle and it no longer flips over. And the bonus is, it is unique and pretty... no more drab neck cords for me!
Braided lanyard

You might not need a lanyard, but this particular braid is so adaptable that it's also ideal for making braided jewellery. So let's get to it and learn how to make a round Kumihimo bracelet.
Candy coloured kumihimo bracelet

How to Set Up the Kumihimo Disk

You'll need four 1 metre (39") lengths of rattail cord in your choice of colours and a Kumihimo Disk.
Kumihimo basics: the materials that you need are a Kumihimo disk and cord.
Find the middle of the first length of cord (yellow) and place it across the hole in the middle of the disk and then place the cord into the slot on the left-hand side of the dot at the top of the disk. 

Pull the cord firmly and place the other end into the slot to the right of the bottom dot. Repeat with the other cords until the disk looks like the photo.Set up your Kumihimo disk with the cords placed at the top and bottom, and right and left hand sides.

Create a Round Kumihimo Braid

The round Kumihimo braid is a really simple (and FAST!) braid to work. 

There are just three actions involved:

STEP 1: Hold the centre of the cords with your right thumb and with your left hand, lift the bottom left cord out of its slot. (The photo below is a progress photo and it shows the disk rotated as the braid has already been started.)Begin the braid by taking the bottom left cord and placing it in the top left hand slot
and place it into the slot to the left of the cord at the top of the disk. You now have 3 cords at the top and 1 cord at the bottom.
Kumihimo basics: After step 1 is completed, you'll have 3 cords at the top.
STEP 2: Now, switch hands and place your left thumb over the centre and using your right hand, lift the cord at the top right of the disk....
Kumihimo basics: Step 2 - Take the top right hand cord and place it in the bottom right hand slot. You now have two cords at the top again and two cords at the bottom.and place it into the slot at the bottom right of the disk.Kumihimo basics: After you've completed Step 2, you have two cords at the top and two cords at the bottom again.
STEP 3: Rotate the disk counterclockwise/anticlockwise.

And that's it. Continue with these three simple steps and you will see the braid begin to emerge from the bottom of the disk.Kumihimo basics: after you've worked a few rotations of the disk, you'll begin to see the braid emerge from the back of the disk.
Continue until you have used up all the cord and you will have a braid approximately 20cm (8") long.
Kumihimo basics: Keep working the braid until it measures about 20cm (8") in length (or the desired length of your bracelet).

Turn the Kumihimo Braid into a Bracelet

You need to tie the pairs of cords together with a half knot so that the braid can't unravel when you take it off the disk. Kumihimo basics: tie off the threads on the disk before removing the cords from the slots so that it doesn't unravel.
You'll need approximately 18cm - 19cm (7" - 7 1/2") to make a bracelet. Measure your wrist to check how long you need to make it and then subtract about 3/4" for the toggle closure.

Use a needle and thread to stitch through all the cords at the desired length and then wrap the thread 3 or 4 times around the braid and tie it into a knot to bind all the strands together.Kumihimo basics: tie off the braid before removing the cords from the disk to prevent it from unravelling.
Trim the cords closely to the binding.Kumihimo bracelet: trim the cords close to the binding.
Use a good dab of glue on the ends and slide the braid into a snug-fitting cord end. Your braid will be around 8-10mm thick depending on how tightly you braided, so look for cord ends with this internal diameter.

If you're not sure what size to buy, then get a variety pack of cord ends and choose the ones that fit.

A strong glue like 5-minute epoxy is my go-to adhesive. 

Once the adhesive has dried, add a jump ring and two or three chain links to the bar end of a toggle clasp. Then, connect the jump ring to the cord end. Attach the toggle to a jump ring and connect it to the remaining cord end.
The finished Kumihimo braid with silver cord ends and a toggle clasp closure.
And there you have it - a simple and fun bracelet that can be made in any colour you like.

It's exactly the same process for making a lanyard or a necklace... you just make a longer braid!

Now that you've got the hang of the basic round braid, check out this Beaded Leather Kumihimo Bracelet with Sliding Knot.
It's made with leather cords and it has a totally different look!

Pin this project for later!

Kumihimo disk set up

'Til next time...

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Would you like to comment?

  1. Fab, that's really helpful Myléne, I was just looking for instructions as I'm making a disk atm, inspired after being sent a lovely pendant on a kumihimo neckace from my friend Cathy for Christmas.

  2. Sara, you'll love how quickly these braids make up. And it's so easy to do that you can do it in front of TV and not get lost.

  3. I am so excited about doing a Kumihimo project!
    I saw a video on it and of course when i went to my beading store they were sold out. I tried several online and they were sold out.
    The only one I found was on Etsy and she was selling hers as a starter kit for $60.
    If anyone knows where I can buy one less expensive, please let me know.

  4. SnapShot is a pain to deal with, please get rid of it. Yes, I did try to disable it but it didn't work...........

    1. Hi Anonymous, I'm sorry you find Snapshots difficult. You may have actually disabled Snapshots but you still need to clear your cache for the change to take effect.
      If you'd like to tell me more about why it is a pain to deal with, I can make a more informed decision about whether or not to remove it. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

  5. Hi! Do you know where I can buy 10mm internal diameter end caps? I love your work but have a thicker piece. Thanks!

    1. Try Fire Mountain Gems:
      Good luck with your search!


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