A selvage edge is woven to prevent threads from unraveling. With the selvage method of finishing off your loom beadwork, you use the weft thread to stitch the warp threads into a selvage at either end of the beadwork. You can then sew the selvage onto fabric, glue it to the back of your beadwork, or secure it within ribbon clamp ends to make a bracelet, as shown here.
This tutorial demonstrates finishing off using a fixed frame or upright bead loom without a shedding device. The process is slightly different if you use an upright loom with a shedding device.
Selvage Finish Materials
You’ll need the following materials to finish off your beadwork using the selvage method in this tutorial:
- A loom
- A warp
- Weft threads or cords
- A beading needle
- Embroidery scissors
Beadwork Using Selvage Method:
- E6000 glue or your choice of epoxy or UV coating resin
- Two ribbon clamp ends, whose lengths match the width of your beadwork
- Nylon jaw pliers
- Jump rings and a clasp of your choice.
- Two pairs of flat nose or chain nose pliers (or one of each) for attaching the jump rings and clasp
- Toothpick to apply glue or resin
- Paper towels
UV resin is one option to seal selvages because it cures relatively quickly under UV light, is strong, and does not emit strong odors or fumes. E6000 adhesive is a good alternative if you do not use resin.
Leave a Weft Thread Tail Long Enough to Make a Selvage End
When you use the selvage method of finishing off, you should begin your beadwork with an extra long tail of weft thread. The long tail is used to weave the selvage.
That means that when you prepare your initial length of thread for the weft, its total length should be the length of the tail for the selvage (about 30 inches) plus the length of thread that you like to use to loom your beadwork with.
If you forget to leave a long weft thread tail, you can still use the selvage technique. You will just need to go back and add a new weft thread to the end of your beadwork before making your selvage.
Complete Your Loom Beadwork and Tie a Half Hitch Knot
Weave your entire loom beadwork design as usual. When you finish the last row of beadwork, use the weft thread to tie a half hitch knot around the last warp thread or cord.
Begin to Weave the Selvage
Weave the needle under the last warp thread and up over the next warp thread. Continue weaving over and under until you reach the end of the row. This is called picking.
Reverse direction, and weave another row of thread. Use your fingers to slide down each row of thread toward the beadwork.
Complete the First Selvage
Continue this weaving process until you have enough selvage to completely fill the inside of one of your ribbon clamp ends. In my example, this took about 30 passes with the weft thread.
Complete the selvage by tying a half-hitch knot over the last warp thread.
Weave the Second Selvage
Thread the needle onto the long thread tail at the other end of the beadwork, and weave a matching selvage there.
Apply Glue or Resin to Both Selvages
While your beadwork is still on the loom, cover the top surface of each selvage with a coat of E6000 or coating resin.
Epoxy coating resins, such as Envirotex Lite, require that you mix two equal parts of a resin and a hardener to prepare it. You then pour or paint it on and give it at least 24 hours to cure.
While the glue or resin is still wet, use a toothpick to spread it so that it covers the entire selvage. Allow the glue or resin to dry thoroughly before removing it from the loom.
Cut the Beadwork off of the Loom
To remove the beadwork from your loom, use embroidery scissors to cut the warp threads on either side of the selvage.
When your glue or resin is completely dry, you can use the same scissors to trim the warps up against both selvages and trim off the remaining weft tails.
Glue the Clamp Ends to the Selvages
With the clamp ends off of the selvages, apply some E6000 to the ends of the selvages.
Slide on each clamp end, and center it on your beadwork. Use a paper towel to wipe any excess glue that oozes out. Since the glue is rubbery, you can also pick off excess glue once it starts to dry.
Set your beadwork aside once more and allow the glue to cure for about 24 hours.
Adding Ribbon Clamp Ends
Use nylon jaw pliers to gently squeeze down each of your clamp ends to make their openings slightly narrower.
The clamp ends need to be just wide enough to slide over your selvages, but do not adjust them while they are on the selvages unless your clamp ends are non-serrated. Serrated clamp ends can easily cut through your selvage and even cause your design to fall apart.
Add Glue to RIbbon Clamps
Add a small amount of E6000 adhesive to the inside of the ribbon clamps. This will ensure the selvage stays inside the ribbon clamps.
Place the Ribbon Clamp into Place
Slide the ribbon clamp into place on the selvage end. Be sure all selvage is properly covered and the beads are outside the ribbon clamp, especially when you are working with smaller beads that could be broken when the ribbon clamp closes.
Side View of the Ribbon Clamp
The ribbon clamp fully encloses the selvage as seen from the side.
Close the Ribbon Clamp
Once the ribbon clamp is properly in place on the loom beadwork, use the nylon jaw pliers.to carefully and securely close them around the selvage. Nylon jaw pliers are necessary to prevent marring the surface of the ribbon clamps.
Secure Ribbon Clamps — Side View
The ribbon clamps will securely grip the selvage and form a neat ending for the beadwork. The cords will not fray or pull apart.
Attaching a Clasp
After the adhesive in the ribbon clamps has cured, use pliers to attach a clasp to your clamp ends with jump rings.
If your bracelet is too short, add a length of jewelry chain between one clamp end and clasp part to extend it. You can also add a charm or dangle to the chain to make the bracelet easier to clasp.