Monday, July 7, 2014

Playing with my beads...Tokyo Rows Bracelet

Last night I dug out another very early bracelet sample and decided to give the pattern another go but with different colors. Although I do like the colors I used in my original sample below, I've got a much larger stash of bead colors to choose from now than I did back when I first started beading. The pattern is called "Tokyo Rows" and is by Martha Aleo. The pattern originally appeared in a special magazine called "The Best of Step by Step Beads". While looking for the pattern online last night, I found her blog, HERE, and she has some photos of the bracelet in different colors. I don't think that the magazine is available any longer but you can buy the pattern from the Beading Daily Store, HERE. It's usually $4.00 but it's on sale at the moment for $2.80. I have no idea how long it will be that price.

While refreshing my memory of how to make the bracelet, I wondered how in the heck I ever managed to make my first sample back when I was just a beginner. First of all, I had scaled down the bead sizes because I didn't want such a huge bracelet and I only had smaller beads anyway. Secondly, there's a typo in Step #2 that must have really confused me but I apparently worked out what I was supposed to do. The text and the diagram don't jive. The text says "Exit the size 8/0 seed bead between A1 and A2". The diagram clearly shows that you're supposed to exit through the "A2" bead, not an 8/0 seed bead.

One other big problem that I do vaguely remember dealing with is how the pattern instructs you to make the "flower" motifs. It's the classic "Hana-Ami" motif but the instructions go about it all wrong. It's very awkward to make them using her method and the center ring of seed beads comes out all messy and wonky. Look closely at my original sample above and you'll see what I mean. I didn't know about Deb Roberti back when I first tried the pattern but she came to my rescue last night. Deb has a free tutorial on her site for the best, and easiest, method for the "Hana-Ami Motif". So, if you're going to make this pattern, just skip all of the first part where you make the individual motifs. Instead, follow Deb's tutorial. You'll be glad you did. Click HERE to get the free PDF file. You will need to weave in the tails and working threads on each motif as instructed in the "Tokyo Rows" pattern and then start a new, longer thread for the next part of the pattern which begins with Step #11 - "Connect the Flowers".

There's one other issue that I have with the pattern as written. Although I haven't yet figured out a way to connect the motifs as they're made, rather than making the individually, there's no reason to stop and start new thread after connecting the motifs to each other. I just use one long piece of thread and after I connect two motifs I weave through the second one to the end and attach the next one. Once they're all strung together, I weave to the very end and go around the side of the last motif and start adding the netting.

Since I've only made samples so far, I don't know yet how I'll attach my clasp or what kind of loop I'll make to attach it. I know that I will do something different than the pattern suggests.

The pattern calls for 8/0 seed beads and 6mm fire polished beads. That combination makes a very large, chunky bracelet that would be too overwhelming for my skinny wrist. However, just for fun I made a small sample last night using those sizes as you can see below:

For my original sample, as well as each of the smaller ones I made last night, I used 11/0 seed beads and 4mm fire polished beads in two colors. The pattern works perfectly with the smaller beads with no adjustments to the pattern. I like both color schemes that I used in my new samples but I haven't decided which one I'll make yet. I'm leaning toward the green and yellow combination but I might switch the beads around and put the opaque "Picasso" beads on the inside and the clear ones on the outside edge.

Here is the break-down of the beads I used in each of my samples:


  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Metallic Chocolate" (11-461)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Matte Iris Brown"
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Opaque Pale Turquoise Star Dust"
  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Dark Bronze" (11-457D)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Milky Topaz"
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Opaque Beige Picasso"
  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Dark Bronze" (11-457D)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Peridot Twilight"
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Goldenrod Picasso"
  • 8/0 seed beads Miyuki "Dark Bronze" (8-457D)
  • 6mm fire polished beads "Jet Bronze Picasso"
  • 6mm fire polished beads "Oxblood Gold Marbled"

I had this article all typed up and was just waiting to take the photos when I got the urge to try some more color combinations as well as some bicones and I also wanted to try the pattern using even smaller beads. So, here are three more colors in 4mm size:

  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Dark Bronze" (11-457D)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Matte Iris Brown"
  • 4mm fire polished beads "French Rose"
  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Dark Bronze" (11-457D)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Matte Iris Brown"
  • 4mm bicones "Golden Shadow #C23 AB" (Beads One)
  • 11/0 seed beads Miyuki "Metallic Chocolate" (11-461)
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Copper Teal"
  • 4mm fire polished beads "Milky Caramel"
My favorite of those samples is the Milky Caramel and Teal.

And, here's the best news. The pattern works GREAT using 15/0 seed beads and 3mm fire polished beads! After making these little samples, even the 4mm bracelet seems big and bulky. This is the best size for this pattern as far as I'm concerned. It comes out 1/2-inch wide and looks very delicate. I love it! I love both color combinations and I think I'll also try using 3mm bicones sometime. I recommend using FireLine or Nymo B thread if you use tiny beads.

  • 11/0 seed beads Toho "Bronze" (15-221)
  • 3mm fire polished beads "Opaque Pale Turquoise Star Dust"
  • 3mm fire polished beads "Jet Picasso Matte"
  • 11/0 seed beads Toho "Bronze" (15-221)
  • 3mm fire polished beads "Ruby"
  • 3mm fire polished beads "Opaque Champagne Luster"
  • 3mm fire polished beads "Bronze"



  1. This is amazing! I have had this pattern for a long, long time but just never got around to getting serious about making it. Now, I'm glad that I didn't! This will really help to make a better bracelet. Your color choices are, as always, amazing!

    1. It's such a pretty pattern so it's a shame that the motifs have to be made separately.

  2. I just want to move next door to you. I am such a fan of yours. Thank you for all the inspiration and beautiful photos.

    1. Wouldn't that be so much fun having all of our beading friends within walking distance?

    2. Linda, I love what you have done with the design and your improvements. When I have a hard time getting the hang of something, I always consult other sources. This applies to everything from using a hammer drill to throwing a pot and I encourage other people to do it too. And what fun is making a jewelry project without adapting it to your taste and style? Jewelry is so personal so it needs your personal twist.

  3. yes, it sounds like fun, I am thinking of starting a beading group where I live at my house in Providence, RI