How to Make a Cardboard Loom

By Brittni • posted on 06/05/2024

If you want to get started with weaving, without spending any money, this DIY cardboard loom is a must try! Easy to make and completely free – all you need is cardboard.

cardboard weaving looms laid out at various stages of the weaving process

Cardboard loom weaving reminds me of potholder loom weaving in a lot of ways. It’s easy to do, making it a creative option for kids and adults. It’s fun! And it doesn’t take a ton of time to produce something cute / useful in the end. But the two most obvious things that a cardboard loom has over any other kind of weaving loom is accessibly and affordability! We all have a little cardboard hanging around our homes from time to time, right? Or maybe even daily if you’re like me.

And since its something you likely already have, you can get started making a cardboard loom of your own with just a couple of additional supplies (that you likely already have).

 piece of cardboard with lines at the bottom and a ruler and pencil on white desk surface

How to Make a Cardboard Loom

1. Cut cardboard

Cut a piece of cardboard larger than the size of weaving you want to create.

2. Create a line at top and bottom

Using a ruler, measure 1/2 inch up from the bottom of the cardboard and draw a line all the way across. Do the same on the top.

These lines are a guide where you will cut the notches too.

3. Measure and mark for notches

Next, measure 1/4 inch increments all the way across the bottom of your cardboard.

And then do the same on the top – making sure to use the ruler in the same orientation to ensure the lines match up on top and bottom.

cutting shallow slits in a piece of cardboard with scissors

4. Cut notches.

Cut the notches on both ends, stopping the cut at the horizontal line on each side.

5. Add cardboard strips.

(optional) Once the notches are cut on both ends, you can add cardboard strips (or popsicle sticks) right after the horizontal lines your drew (in step 2) to lift the strings off the cardboard base when weaving, if desired.

You can use glue or tape to attach one piece to each end.

Honestly, I usually don’t do this because it’s an extra step that doesn’t feel entirely necessary. But if its more comfy for your to weave with that extra lift, this is a great / easy way to do it.         

cardboard loom being strung up for use to make a weaving

Stringing a cardboard loom

 Now it’s time to string your loom. Also know as creating the warp.

What does the term warp mean?

The warp is made up of the vertical strings that create the base / foundation for your weaving.

Getting Started

1. To get started with stringing your loom, you will first attach the end of your string to the backside of the loom and tape it down. Then, bring the string through the first notch to the front. 

*I usually keep my string on the roll and unroll it as I go to ensure I always have enough string to finish this step.

medium size piece of cardboard that is halfway strung to create a loom that will be used for weaving

2. Then go all the way up to the first notch at the top and put the string through.

3. Next, instead of going all the way around the back and to the front again, pull the string around to the next notch at the top and then go all the way back down with the string to the next bottom notch.

stringing a cardboard loom to make a weaving

4. Then bring the string around the next bottom notch before going all the way up again. Do this over and over until your loom has been strung. 

back of a piece of cardboard that is being used as a weaving loom, with string and tape

5. Then cut the excess string and tape the string end to the back of the loom.

Stringing Note: One thing to note is that you want your strings to begin AND end at the bottom notches. So if you need to leave a notch empty at the end of the loom to make that work, do that. No biggie.

cardboard loom ready to be used, with warp completed

Weaving on a cardboard loom

Now that the loom is strung, you can start weaving and create the weft.

There are MANY different weaving techniques that you can use for creating weavings on any loom, whether it’s made of cardboard or some other material. So, I’m going to share the most basic / simple weaving technique here to get you started. 

What does the term weft mean, in weaving?

In weaving, the term weft refers to the horizontal material begin woven through the warp.

weaving on a cardboard loom with thick grey blue yarn

Getting Started 

1. You’ll start toward the bottom of your loom. But you want to leave extra space at the very bottom to make sure your strings are long enough, when you cut everything off the loom at the end, to tie them off easily.

I like to go 2-4 inches up from the bottom. But with the really small cardboard looms, like the one in the step photo, I only went 1 inch up from the bottom because it was so small – which did make it harder to tie off at the end, but it was fine.

To start your weaving, determine how much string you’ll need and then cut the string to that length. So for example, if you know you want to create 4 rows of yellow, then move your yellow string back and forth on top of the loom strings (across) 4 times to get the length you’ll need before cutting. And be sure to add a little extra on each end as well, just to be safe.

2. Then you’ll tie one end of the string to the first warp string on the left with a double knot OR leave a small amount of string out passed the end of the warp, as shown in the photo above. 

3. Determine whether you want to use a weaving needle or something from around the house, like a popsicle stick, or simply use your hands to weave the string through.

If you’re using a needle, thread the other end of the string through the needle.

If you’re using a popsicle stick, wrap the remaining string around and around the popsicle stick, in the middle.

And if you’re just using your hands, it may help to fold the very end of the string back on to it itself and pull it through the way, to avoid the end of the string splitting.

showing how to tabby weave by bringing string over and under on a small loom

4. Now that that’s figured out, you can start any kind of weaving pattern you like. The most common way to start a weaving is also the simplest. And this weaving technique is known as ‘tabby’ or ‘plain’ weave.

Typically, at least a few rows of tabby or plain weave are done to create anchor rows that help keep your weaving secure when you remove it from the loom later.

Tabby and plain weave are both names for a very simple over, under technique. So you go over the first string and under the second string. Then over the third string and under the fourth. So on and so on, all the way across.

the process of weaving the first two rows of a weaving, using a cardboard loom

5. Once your reach the end of the row, pull the string all the way through / across gently.

Many weavers create a small arc with the string as it’s being pulled through. This will help make sure the string doesn’t get pulled to tightly and will keep your weaving from getting wonky / uneven.

pushing yarn down on a loom with a comb to get it even and straight

6. Use a fork, comb, or weaving beater to push the arc down into a straight line, as shown in the photo above. 

blue yarn going through a loom to weave a textile

7. Now you’ll bring the string back through in the opposite direction, doing the opposite of the row before.

So if your string is under the final warp string at the end of the first row, you will go over that warp string to start the second row and then continue under over, under over all the way across.

8. Continue this alternating pattern for as many rows as you like.

tying tassels onto the bottom of a weaving before removing it from the loom

9. Once the weaving is complete, you can tie tassels onto the bottom end, to give it a little more interest. 

cutting the bottom strings of a weaving of a loom with a pair of scissors

10. Now it’s time to remove the weaving from the loom. Start with the bottom right – cutting just two strings at a time and double or triple knotting them together.

Then move onto the next two and go all the way down the line until every string has been snipped and knotted.

weaving a stick through the top of a finished weaving that is blue

11. Then it’s time to remove the top from the loom. The easiest way is to just thread a dowel or stick through the loops at the top as you are removing them. Do not cut the top strings if you choose this method. You want the loops to stay as is, for hanging.

There is a more advanced way to attach the top loops to a dowel rod below. As well as a couple other options for hangings.

tucking the backends of a weaving into the piece to finish it

12. Lastly, weave any tails that have been left out on the sides into the back to tuck them in.

You can do this quickly and easily with a small tapestry needle. Or by hand, which is still easy but takes a little longer. 

cardboard looms laid out on a white surface with various shades of blue yarn

small cardboard loom with ruler, pencils, tape, and yarn surrounding it

small blue weaving with lots of textile, hanging on a white wall

Hanging your Weavings

There are a few options for hanging weavings on the wall when they are complete. 

1. The most common way is to use a dowel rod and attach the top strings of your weaving to the dowel and hang it on the wall from a nail under the dowel. There are a couple of ways you can do this, but this technique looks the best imo. You can also just cut the strings and them together over the dowel, which is easier, but looks kind of messy.

You could also add leather straps to each end of the dowel and hang it that way. Similar to my DIY wooden curtain rods idea.

2. Another option (which I really like for smaller weavings) is to frame them, like I did with a weaving I shared in my 6 DIY art ideas under $20 post. I think it looks really cute. I would just skip the glass, that way the weaving has plenty of room to stick out.

3. Textile hangers and rug hangers are another great way to hang handmade weavings. Well Made makes some really simple ones, in many different sizes.

small looms laid out on white surface with other weaving tools

And that’s it for weaving on a cardboard loom. I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Weaving can be such a fun and relaxing activity for adults and kids. And with a cardboard loom, you can get started immediately without needing any fancy tools.

That said, once you get the hang of weaving on a cardboard loom, you may want to upgrade to a (budget friendly) DIY weaving loom that you can make yourself. I have a tutorial there for a larger loom and a smaller lamp loom as well. 

4 comments | Click here to reply

Hi Terry. With a large enough piece of cardboard, you could definitely make placemats this way!
-Brittni

Brittni

This looks fun! Could you make placemats this way too?

Terry

Great idea – and also for the grand children:-)

tina/mormormedstiletter

That’s a good idea. I will try to do at home. Thanks

LifePraJamWan
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