Weaving Tutorial for Beginners and Kids with Cardboard and Yarn

I’ve wanted to try weaving for a long time, but was never sure how to get started. Then I learned about weaving with yarn on a little piece of cardboard, and also found out more great tips from all of you on the Made by Joel Facebook Page. Thanks!

Our twins just turned six this month, and they’ve been weaving all week – even bringing it into the car to work on. It’s really fun, but also great for improving dexterity and concentration.

So far we’ve been using the weavings as little rugs for our dollhouse furniture, but I’d love to hear more ideas for what to do with them. And of course, you can make different sizes – maybe coasters, or bookmarks?

If you’d like to try it out, there are step by step directions below.

Happy weaving!

See photo below for instructions.

1 – Get a piece of cardboard for the “loom”. Any size will do, but ours was about 3×5 inches. Using scissors, make some cuts along two opposite edges. My cuts were a little less than 1/2 inch apart.
2 – Take some yarn, and tape the end to the back of the cardboard, then fitting the yarn into the notches, wrap the yarn around the cardboard. To do this, you want to wrap around the cardboard tab, then go down the opposite side to make the long lines (see photo 3) where you will weave.
3 – This is what the front will look like.
4 – Next, take a length of yarn and tape one end to the back of the cardboard loom. The other end will be threaded through the loom. I found that if you wrap a piece of tape around the end of the yarn, it’s much easier to thread it. I’ve also seen people use a large needle, but I like tape better for kids.
5 – Now start threading the yarn in an over under pattern, back and forth across the loom. (Note – if your child skips some threads or makes a mistake, it’s fine. I just like to let them roll with it and have fun.)
6 – When you run out of thread, you can continue with a different color if you’d like. I tied the new color to the end of the old color, but I think you can just weave the “tails” in, if you’d like. Knots seemed to be easier for the kids.
7 – After the weaving is done, turn over the cardboard, and take off the pieces of tape that are holding down the ends of the yarn.
8 – Now peel off the loops of yarn over the tabs along one side of the weaving.
9 – Then slide the other side of the weaving off over the other tabs.
10 – This is what it will look like when you take it off the loom.
11 – Gently pull the loops of yarn that were on the tabs, one at a time, so you can tighten down the edges of the weaving.
12 – Now tie a knot around each of the four loose ends, then cut off the extra threads of yarn. Finished!

67 Responses
  1. If you make them a little bit long and skinny you can fold the short edge up, to make a pouch. Optionally with a fold over flap for closing, if you sew on a pony bead you can pop it through the weaving of the flap to close it. If that makes any sense. :-)

    You can use the same pony bead trick to make wrist bands.

    1. Ah, cool idea. So the bead would be like a button, but you don’t need to sew a button hole, because you just use the spaces in the weaving, right? I’ll have to try that! You could even just weave a button in there too I bet.

    2. Cool! Yeah, I have a box of vintage buttons and there are many small rounded ones that should work perfectly. Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Hi Joel !
    Thank you so much for this easy looking tutorial. We will try out this weaving and look for some ideas.
    In Germany we like weaving with paper strips – also very funny!

  3. Alli

    Thanks for this fantastic idea! My son’s been asking to sew when he sees me at my machine, so I think he’ll like this as a change of pace from the felt I gave him to hand sew!

    Also, your doll furniture is ridiculously cool! I totally covet that little wire chair. :)

    1. Thanks! And the chairs are very easy to make. There are instructions for them in my book, but you could make them just by looking at the photo too.

  4. Angel

    You know you can do this on a paper plate, and weave circularly? They usually pull up once you remove them from the loom, and you have a bowl/basket. =) You just cut notches around the plate and wrap the yarn around it over and over, I think you need an odd number of warp threads in order to keep the over under sensibility working as you cycle. Fun!

    1. I’ve got to try that! I’ve always loved the look of crocheted granny squares, but have never learned how to crochet. This could be similar, but easier!

  5. In high school art class, we used to something similar to what Katherine says. But we would weave around the back of the cardboard too so that the weaved item would come out a cylinder without having to sew. In step 2 of your illustration, we could carry those long threads down the back too. When we were weaving, we would just carry our thread around the side and turn over the cardboard with each row. When we took it off the loom, we had the choice of sewing the bottom together to make a pouch or leaving in a cylinder for a bracelet or drink cozy. We would also do the button deal that Katherine mentions.

    1. I love this idea! Cool! I recently learned how to make woven cords out of yarn too, so I could use that to attach for a handle. Nice!

  6. These are so neat! I think making two of them, then sewing them together would be awesome for a phone case or a soap rag/cover! Great for those of us who are not knitting/crochet inclined.

  7. That’s amazing! Too dextrous for my 2yo to try yet, but I’m tempted to just do it myself. I like the idea (above) of using two of them as a phone cover.

  8. I used to weave little clutch purses as the previous commenter mentioned. They make great little birthday gifts. Also great to do a more narrow pouch for marbles and things like that. You can also make little dollhouse hammocks or swings. I would think you could weave a wide ring or bracelet/cuff, or necklace too (statement pieces). Another idea would be a headband or belt. Fun stuff!!!

    1. I totally want to try making a cool bracelet. That would be awesome! (At least for my kids. Not sure I could pull it off. On second though, I think I would wear one too :)

  9. What you are doing there is “weft faced weaving” where the weft (the part you are weaving over and under) is what is making the pattern and the warp (the part attached to the cardboard) is hidden inside the finished product. This is the kind of weaving used to make a lot of tapestries and rugs. You could make bigger frames by making a long rectangular box out of wood and just using a scroll or coping saw to cut notches in the wood. To make patterns more complicated than stripes, basically, you don’t always weave with one color all the way across, you switch colors as needed to make patterns. As with anything, you can search around online and find more details than you ever wanted. (maybe search “tapestry weaving” for inspiration)

    You can even go 3d and instead of warping around a flat piece of cardboard or other frame, you can warp around a box and make a bag! That seems pretty similar to what you have the kids doing… Here are some instructions (starts on page 3 of the pdf linked): http://www.interweave.com/Weaving/projects_articles/Handwoven-Bags-For-Beginners.pdf

  10. Hi joel!

    I MUST show this to my daughter! She loves to make things and knitting with a knittingfork is one of her favorite things to do and I bet weavind will be too! She is lucky, her mom has enough yarn for her to weave a lot of rugs for her dollhouse!
    Thanks for this lovely idea!


  11. jojo

    If you have a bulky weaving block like 1″ thick polystyrene and weave on both sides (just keep going in and out right around the block) you end up with a completely woven pouch-no need to sew! I wonder if you could weave right around a big fat mitten shaped block?

  12. […] DIY Cardboard Loom Weaving Tutorial from Made By Joel here. I’ve posted several other tutorials using cardboard loom weaving as well as straw weaving, paper weaving etc… here: unicornhatparty.com/tagged/weaving […]

  13. Sherry

    My Aunt used weaving as a means to get me started crafting. It was the beginning of a long list of projects. My 4 and 5 year granddaughters watch me crochet and knit all the time and love the things I make them. Naturally they wanted to do this too. So, the other day I made two little cardboard looms and got them going. The only difference is that I put the yarn down the front and back both. Then when you weave you just keep turning it over and when you reach the top you end up with a cute little bag. What you do is only make the notches on the top and make them a little closer together. Then you start on one end (I wrap around the first notch ant tie it or slide slipknot over the tab). Go down one side and up the other and around the tab. Keep doing this then weave in rounds. It works great. I crochet around the top and add a drawstring. They completed their first project that day.

  14. Sherry

    Hi Joel,
    I will post a PC for you tomorrow. I am amazed at how hard they worked and how well they did for 4 and 5. Must be in the genes, lol.

  15. Hi Joel –
    Love this! In fact I love it so much I made a bunch when I came across the idea a couple of years ago. Mine became coasters—or mug rugs—with fringed edges.
    I used yarn and also strips of fabric. My lightweight cotton strips were torn about 1″ wide. Wider strips could be compressed to make a thicker mat, or a looser weave could make it easier/faster to make a larger mat.
    A larger one, say about six or seven inches is a good size for a hot pad. And a larger loom could make place mats. That’s what I’d use the wider strips for.
    Stitch small ones together to make larger pieces, kind of like Granny squares are assembled. There are large plastic darning needles that are easy for kids to use and perfect for this kind of assembly. Thread it with yarn or fabric strips and slip stitch to join two pieces butted up against each other.
    Kids can make a table setting for mom or grandma: a set of coasters, a couple of hot pads and placemats. Placemats joined end to end make a table runner. With the right size loom they can make a mat to cover the top of the toilet tank. Use custom colors to match the shower curtain.
    And I love the cylinder idea other readers suggested! I think a cereal box would be a good size for the bag I have in mind.

  16. E.

    Hi Joel,
    I love your instructions and photos! I did this with my 4-7 yr old class and they loved it.
    can I give them copies of your instructions to take home?

  17. Amanda

    If you made them a lot longer you could make scarves…maybe a bit too advanced for a 6 year old, but it would be fun!

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  19. Vicky

    Thanks for this, love the easy to follow instructions and photos, can’t wait to try with my school kids aged 4 and 5! They are doing weaving as an optional after school club so this should be fun.

  20. ReneeG

    I’m teaching nearly 60 4th graders to weave in cardboard. I plan to have them create two panels so they can be sewn together and used as a cell phone case, key pouch or Ice Cream money; lining it with felt or fabric would make it even more sturdy too! I’ve been crocheting off and on since I was 13 (30 years ago!) but weaving gives me a break from it.

  21. Susan

    I did this on a bigger scale with my dementia groups. Instead of cutting the card away, we put a piece of larger card on the back and cut a frame for the front and now thier work hangs in their rooms. It looks very effective.

  22. Herwer Castillo

    Soy maestro de arte de niños de escasos recursos en Guatemala, me gustaria mucho que me ayuden con ideas de tecnicas diferentes y novedosas, para trabajar con ellos…..gracias en nombre de ellos….

  23. Samantha

    hey!! this is all so awesome! i like how they were making their weaving landscape style: that’s another thing i’ll have to try in the near future! i just finished my portrait style loom from a cereal box and it’s so fun. i’ve been knitting for almost a decade (and i’m only 26) so i’ve been feeling pretty jaded about that craft. there’re only so many hats, cowls, and scarves you can make as gifts before you start to notice they’re not being used ;/

    anyway!! i got my original loom instructions from two craft blogs (one being etsy) and they both said to cut the loops that you start off with on the pegs/in the slots. it looked really messy and unfinished to me, so i’ve been googling a better way. i really like your technique because it offers a cleaner finished edge but i’m not sure i completely understand it. do you just carefully pull all the yarn after you untape it to make the loops flush with the rest of the piece of weaving?

    thanks for the awesome tutorial and any advice you can offer me :)


    1. Hey Samantha. Thanks! Yes, you just kind of pull those edge strings a bit to snug them up after taking them off the cardboard. Sounds a little tricky, but it’s super simple. Easier done than said!