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How to Make Finger Loop Braided Bracelets

Braided Bracelets
Part 1 of 2
Finger loop braids were once popular in medieval Europe. It involved braiding using just fingers and loops called "bowes" of thread or cord. The cords were extensively used as drawstrings, lacing and fasteners in the days before zips, buttons and velcro were invented.

Finger loop braiding has great potential for modern day jewelry making as they make excellent bracelets and chokers. It's also a highly portable craft as you can do this anywhere so long as you have something to anchor the work.

It's just astounding the dedication of artisans cum historians who bring back to light these old art forms and publicize them through the internet. Fingerloop braiding has been extensively researched and revived by the two authors of, Lois Swales and Zoe Kuhn Williams who also teach the craft. They not only found but transcribed and translated manuscripts written in Old English to something we can fathom today.

Take for example this pattern called "a brode lace of v bowes" c. 1475. It's amazing how they have figured out the pattern and applied it in a modern rendition. Check out their extensive list of resources on their website.

If you are game to try, I found SFHandyman on to be very helpful. The resulting braids on his extensive tutorial look intricate and beautiful (see top picture). There is also a pdf if you prefer to print it out.

The first video lesson shows how he gets ready to start a 5 loop braid - he uses rather thick cord to make it easier to see. The video is rather dark but you can make out the essentials. He uses his bedpost but you can also use a doorknob. I suggest you watch the next video first if you are keen to see how finger looping is done.

This is the fun followup video where he shows the closeup of how he "walks the bowes" to braid. It's really fast once you get the hang of it! There is a rhythm to this technique which might appeal to those of you who like knitting. He is not a jewelry artisan but he does explain how it should be finished with bell caps if you are making it into jewelry. Or you could watch his other video on split braids which creates a hole for a button fastener.

Also helpful is his second video for a really cool square braid which is a variation of the above. At the beginning, he shows you a quick way to start which is just to make a very large loop by tying the ends of a cord together and hooking it on his bedpost. He then creates the loops he needs by relooping onto the bedpost.

Introducing color is a cinch! His 2-color flat braid video shows you how.

Medieval Picture source 

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. An hour later, thanks for sharing these videos. I sure had fun watching these. Would be great PT for my fingers. Getting to be able to use the left hand now and I'm going to try this.

  2. I'm glad to hear your hand is healing well. Good idea about finger looping being an excellent form of physical therapy.

  3. These are very pretty pearl and they look fab all by themselves, don't they?

  4. These are really great...I like the process! These kinds of braided bracelets/anklets are still popular...I've notice many in the last three years!
    Thanks for all your research Pearl!


  5. Wow, it can sound pretty complicated but the videos help. You know how it goes, what ever is old will become fashionable again!

  6. It looks pretty complicated but I think it's one of those things that once you "get it" it becomes natural to you. Very cool stuff pearl!

  7. Pearl, thanks for sharing these videos! I came across finger loop braiding while looking for card weaving patterns. What fun to try old crafting tchniques!

  8. The videos are such good tutorials. It will probably be difficult to start, but the videos make the steps very clear. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. I must be in a braiding mood as I've been skipping around your blog checking out a number of different braiding techniques...all fabulous. Maybe with practice I could be half as fast as SFHandyman on is (talk about lightening fast, I never saw him "walk" the cord at all in that 1st video).
    I particularly like this method as there are no special tools involved. Thankfully Lois Swales and Zoe Kuhn Williams found and resurrected this lovely old craft as it has a great deal of merit and should be an art revered and practiced today.
    I think by using large cord this braid would look lovely worked up as belts or straps on handbags and I could use a new belt or two.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing these videos! they are so awesome. I was wondering how much string should i use to make one bracelet? I have tried a few different lengths, but they have all been too short. Thanks so much :D

  11. As with all crafts, some experimenting is required! Better use more than you think!

  12. These are fantastic! is there any easy way to add a charm-like object to the middle of the braid? I was thinking of making a flat braid bracelet with a brass clockwork cog in the middle

  13. Yes, I don't see why not. The easiest way is to attach the charm with a jump ring wherever you want.

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