Learning how to make loops in headpins enables you to attach beads onto earrings, necklaces and bracelets and is the main way of creating beaded jewellery other than threading. I will show you how to make both open and wrapped loops and explain why you might use one over the other. This tutorial will take you step by step how to make both plain and wrapped loops and we will finish up with a troubleshooting Q&A at the end!
I though this would be a quick post to help everyone getting loops right, but it has turned into a masterpost of loop knowledge! I have tried to take this step by step for those who have never made a loop before as well as cover all the things that people on my workshops struggle with. Lets get started!
First off, what is the difference between a plain loop and a wrapped loop? And when would you use one rather than the other? A plain loop can be twisted open like a jump ring. I use plain loops when I am attaching it to something that can’t be opened, such as chain. Plain loops are versatile and neat, but you have to be aware that they can accidentally get caught and be pulled open. You can see an example on the left hand, blue bead above.
Wrapped loops are fixed closed by wrapping the end of the headpin around itself to finish. This mean they cannot be opened, which offers extra security when adding beads to earrings and charm bracelets for example. But also means you need to use jump rings to attach them to chain or open the loop on the bottom of the earring itself to make earrings. An example is on the right hand, red bead in the photo above.
Generally, my personal reference is to use wrapped loops, unless I know that having plain loops is the only way I have of attaching. I just find them more secure, and I prefer the look. Both the plain and wrapped loops start in the same way, its only how they are finished that is different.
You will need:
-round nose pliers
How to make a plain loop in a headpin
1.Add a bead or beads onto a headpin and slide down to the head.
2.Grip the wire right above the bead with round nose pliers and bend the wire away from you at a right angle. See the bottom of the post for a top tip!
3.Readjust your pliers to grip the top of the wire, so the jaws of the pliers go from being side by side to on top of each other, no wire is moved or bent in this stage.
4.Put your finger underneath the wire and push it up towards you, bending the wire over the top of the pliers to create the first half of your loop.
6.Time to readjust your pliers again- this time just swivel the pliers around to grip the top of the loop. No wire is bent or moved.
7.Complete the loops by pushing the wire under the pliers and away from you, finishing with the end facing away from you in a right angle again.
8.This is what you should have! The aim is to get a centralised loop, like a lollipop.
9.All that is left to do for a plain loop is to cut off the excess. The trick to this is to cut on the inside of the loop! The temptation is to cut the wire from the left, after it has crossed over itself, but this will always leave a bit of wire sticking out. Make sure you have the flat side of the pliers (see below for tips!) right up against where the wire cross at the base of the loop.
10.This what your should end up with! This loop can be opened and closed like a jump ring.
How to make a wrapped loop
1.Follow steps 1 – 8 above, then take your chain nose pliers and hold the loop as shown. You need to be able to see where the wire crosses itself, and that the wire is at a right angle to part with the bead.
2.Push the wire down and wrap it around itself, working down towards the bead.
3.Aim to get about three wraps, but even one wrap will be secure, three just looks neater!
4.To trim off the excess wire, you might find id easier to push the wire up away from the bead so you can get the cutters nearer.
5.Come in with the flat side of the cutters right up against the wrapped section and cut.
6.If there is any wire still left sticking out, squash it down with the chain nose pliers, holding the wire as shown to stop it twirling around!
You can see the difference between the plain loop on the left, and the wrapped loop on the right.
Practice really does make perfect when it comes to loops, so please don’t worry if your first few are a bit wonky; you will get there! The less you have to think about the steps the smoother you will be and neater the loop.
Having problems making loops in headpins?
Lets troubleshoot any issues!
My loops are all different sizes! Use a marker pen to put lines on your round nose pliers, one for a small loop and another for a larger loop. Now you will know where to grip your wire to create consistently sized loops!
My loops aren’t really round! You might be gripping the wire at a different part of the plier in step 6; marking your pliers as in the above tip will help with this!
My loop is off-centre, like the letter ‘P’ You forgot to make the right angle bend away with the wire in step 2!
I’m finding it tricky to bend the bend around, especially when making the wraps You will find it easier to move the wire the more of it you have, so if you only leave yourself a small end of wire to work with, it with be tough to bend. I recommend having the bead (or beads) going no more than two-thirds for a plain loop and halfway for a wrapped. Basically, the more wire you have left, the easier it will be!
I’m struggling to hold the loop still when making the wraps! Try gripping the loop down the side of the chain nose pliers- it is tempting to use the very tips, but this doesn’t give you a good grip.
There is a huge gap in my plain loop after cutting! Be careful which side of the cutters you are using. The ‘flat’ side will always cut closer as this is where the sharp jaws are – so you want to get this side right in up against the inside of the loop. The flat side of the pliers is on the left and the top side on the right. The top side is indented and its quite a way down to where the cutting jaw is.
If you have any questions about making plain or wrapped loops, or have any problems I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to help you out! You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Want even more modern craft, creative inspiration and lovely ready-made jewellery? Sign up to my monthly ‘Making, Creating and Little Adventures’ email! Happy Making!