How to Make Waist Beads? Step by Step Tutorial

Waist beads are commonly used by women of the Luo tribe in Kenya, East Africa. Waist beads are mostly worn during special occasions such as weddings or festivals. This accessory is only limited by creativity, but there are specific guidelines when it comes to color combinations and patterns depending on geographical location and family tradition. Here I am just giving you a super easy-to-follow tutorial. Then, let your imagination run wild!

What do you need to make waist beads?

List of materials needed to make waist beads:


materials needed to make waist beads

  • Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes   
  • Difficulty level: Beginners 

Step 1 – Measure your waist.

Wrap a measuring tape or the string/nylon around your waist where you want the waist beads to sit.


Measure your waist where you want the waist beads to sit

Step 2 – Cut the string.

Cut the string/nylon- take the waist measurement and add 8 inches (20 cm) to ensure you have enough string left to lock the waist beads.

Cut the string of your waist beads

Step 3 – Add the crimp lock.

Add your crimp lock to the string, then the jump ring, and loop it back in the crimp lock. Flatten it with your crimping pliers. I am doing this first to ensure your beads don’t fall accidentally.


Add crimp lock to waist beads

Step 4 – Adding the beads.

Arrange the beads to your liking until you’re satisfied with the pattern, and continue doing so until you reach your waist measurement.

Adding the beads to the waist beads

Step 5 Final locking

Open your jump ring with the crimping pliers and attach the lobster clasp. Then, repeat step 3.

Final locking of the waist beads

Step 6 The finished product

The finished product- wear it around your waist.

Waist beads finished



What kind of string do you use for waist beads?

Cotton is the most common material used to make waist beads. Cotton is cheap, easy to dye, and knits easily into thread, allowing for bead making. The cotton strings are used because they are soft, pliable, and come in great colors. I am using nylon in this tutorial as it is a material you will probably have already.

Are waist beads supposed to be stretchy?

Yes, waist beads are supposed to be elastic. They are not supposed to break or snap even with strong pulling or movements. That’s why I proposed to use nylon in this tutorial. It makes them very comfortable for the wearer compared to stiffer materials like plastic. They are also often made of cotton that stretches easily and returns to its original shape after use. Waist beads cannot be washed by machine, so they should be cleaned manually using a brush dipped in soapy water.

How to put on waist beads

The simplest way is to tie the waist bead around the waist. It can also be tied diagonally or even on one hip depending on preference. You can also tie two or more waist beads at once. In this tutorial, I am using lobster locks, which is the easiest and cheapest way to go. Note that you could also use screw-on or clasps if this is what you have.

How to make waist beads for weight loss?

Waist beads are not made to be used as a weight-loss device. I suppose you could choose a non-elastic type of string to control your waist over time. However, as mentioned before, it is better to use elastic material for waist beads in general. The whole idea of making this piece of jewelry is to enjoy it and make it fit your size, no matter what the size is!


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