Hallowe’en is my absolute favourite holiday (well, tied with Christmas). Getting dressed up, going trick-or-treating, eating candy…what’s not to love?
I also happen to have a certain little cousin who ADORES making beadie buddies out of pony beads. Since I was a pony bead fanatic when I was younger so we’ve been bonding over making patterns together. (I really need to find my old binder that had about 50+ patterns in it. This was from when I was thinking of selling them – way cooler than lemonade stands, right?)
So naturally I decided I had to make beadie buddies and bring them down the road for that sweet little girl for some quality Hallowe’en-themed bonding time. They’re quick, they’re easy and they’re definitely kid-friendly.
For those of you that haven’t encountered these pony bead crafts, I’ll walk you through the basics of how to create these imaginative creatures!
Hallowe’en Pony Bead Beadie Buddies: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Find Patterns
The first thing any beginning bead-crafter should do is find themselves a pattern. I’m getting to the point where I can adapt or even create my own patterns from scratch, but when I was first starting out a pattern was a must-have. They are all over Pinterest and Google; just search ‘pony bead pattern’ and you should find some. (One of the best websites around, which I used way back in the day as well, is beadiecritters.com. Spend a few hours exploring their patterns – it’s amazing!)
I found these patterns on Pinterest (though I adapted my Jack O’Lantern beadie buddie from two patterns). Unfortunately, most of these patterns were pinned from makingfriends.com and while that site still exists it has obviously reformatted or something and the pages don’t seem to exist anymore. I’ve searched far and wide throughout the interwebs and have only found other pages that link back to the old website, making it clear that Making Friends was the original poster. The best I can do is link you to what seems to be the Making Friends Pinterest board done by the website itself.
First up, this Hallowe’en classic treat: candy corn.
Then, one of the most iconic Hallowe’en costumes: a witch (with some friends that I didn’t make today).
Lastly, for my little beadie fiend, her specifically-requested Jack O’Lantern, which I made by taking the green top of this pattern:
And combining it with this pattern:
(Because I liked this second pattern’s face better.)
Step 2: Get Supplies
Once you have your patterns picked out, you need to run and grab the right colours of pony beads. I first ran to the dollar store and grabbed most of my beads there, but had to get some from Michaels. Trust me, get the cheaper ones if you can – I’ve never found a difference in quality.
You’ll also see my spool of plastic lacing there, too. That was bought because I couldn’t find the silk/satin cord I prefer. I do not enjoy using this plastic for my beadie buddies – it doesn’t wrap as well, nor does it tie as well, leaving some of your creations a bit warped (for example, look at the bottom of my Jack O’Lantern – he’s going to be re-done once I find some cord I like). Anyway, you’ll need some sort of thing to string your beads on – cord, ribbon, lacing, etc.
The last thing you may want to pick up is key rings, which is the “traditional” way of starting off your beadie buddies. I may or may not have forgotten to pick some up and therefore decided to make mine without it, but it’s easier for newbies to start the projects by knotting a key ring halfway through their cord.
Step 3: Review Pattern
Right, so once you have your equipment gathered, you might want to lay out your beads into the pattern. This is a more time-consuming way of starting off, but gives you a good idea how it will look. I tend to only do this when I’m creating or adapting a pattern. I started off with my Jack O’Lantern pattern to get a good idea of how combining the two patterns would work out.
Keep in mind that this is not quite how the final product will look since all of the beads will be on their sides and the cord will be visible on the ends of each row.
Like I said, that’s a more time-consuming way of starting off. I prefer just having the beads accessible and only grabbing the colours row-by-row. It’s much faster. (Plus you won’t be able to bump the table and send your pattern flying – not that I’ve done that, ahem.)
Step 4: Get Your Starting Rows
For most patterns, you’ll need 2-3 yards of cord. I tend to not even look at the instructions anymore and just measure out about 3 yards and if I have extra, c’est la vie. You can just chop off the extra at the end.
Since I was doing these beadie buddies sans key ring, I found my starting point by folding the lacing in half. This is where you want to position the first beads. You always do these bead patterns from top to bottom, so find whatever beads you need for the top row and position these at that halfway point.
Then, as you can see I’ve done in the picture above, get the second row strung up ready to go as well.
You want to get that second row of beads horizontally underneath that first row. To do this, take the other half of the cord and string it the opposite way through the beads.
If you’ve done it right, your row of beads should be in a loop of cord with ends of each half of cord sticking out either side.
Now, pull gently but firmly on each end of the cord to tighten the loop and pull that second row up underneath the first row. Sometimes you’ll have to (gently) manhandle some of the beads and the two halves of cord to get the row centred, but that’s usually only a problem for the first few rows and the last row.
Great start! If it looks like this, you’ve successfully started your beadie buddie creation. If it looks a little loose, like mine does, it’ll get sorted out as you get more rows on there.
Step 5: Continue to Follow Pattern
Okay, now look back at your pattern and get the third row. It becomes very repetitive at this point. String up the beads on one half of the cord:
Loop the other half of cord through the beads going the opposite direction:
Pull the ends of the cord to slide this row up to join the rest. It doesn’t matter if you have the row nowhere near the others before you loop and pull, like in the picture above. You can also put it quite close to the previous rows beforehand, like in the picture below. Find what works for you – the end result is the same!
Keep going, row by row, following the pattern.
Now, what happens when you hit a row that isn’t all one solid colour? String the beads in the order exactly as shown in the pattern, like below:
It helps that this row was a mirror image. If it wasn’t, you just have to make sure you’re paying attention to what side of the cord you’re adding it to. Fold the cord under the previous rows in the direction it’ll end up being pulled to make sure it’s correct. (Or only do patterns with mirror images.)
Step 6: Tie-Off & Complete
Keep stringing and looping and pulling while keeping track of your pattern. Finally you’ll have a completed beadie buddie!
There are few different ways to end it off. For this one, the plastic lacing was kind of warping the last row of beads, so I tried to add some stability by looping one end of the lacing back through the row another time. Then, I gathered both ends to one side and tied them off.
The Jack O’Lantern by itself took about 15 minutes because it’s a bit larger. These next two, however, were BOTH completed in 15 minutes! Super quick!
Now, you may have noticed that my little witchipoo has arms. How in the world do you get those arms to stick out if you’re stringing them like every other row, you may ask. The answer: you don’t! Arms and legs only get strung through ONE half of the cord, which you then loop back on itself.
You’ll notice on patterns that include these things, they try to make it really clear where the cord is going. Follow the line along and you’ll notice that it’s only one half of the cord; the other half has its own arm to do. Check out the pattern again to see if you understand what I mean:
In witchipoo’s case, you string up the hat and head as normal, plus the two black beads just under her chin, then do each side separately for the two arms.
The two halves of cord come back together after the arms are complete and everything goes back to normal.
The candy corn one in particular was so simple, I did it in a flash!
Note that for the witch I didn’t feel the need to loop the cords again; I simply tied both ends together, and cut off the excess. With the candy corn’s a wide base, I thought that it would get mangled if I tied the ends together. Instead, I opted to tie off each end separately in its own knot.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or concerns (or just want to say hi!), drop me a line in the comments below.