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Make A Beaded Arm Band

Last year I fought and won my battle with breast cancer. While I was undergoing chemotherapy I made this Canadian flag arm band to hide the coil of clear tubing and clips on my upper arm through which I received the chemotherapy fluids. You may know someone who is ill and has a PICC line. I’m sure they hate the white dressing just as much as I did.

I thumbed my nose at the “Big C.” Before my hair fell out I had all my head shaved. I kept a handful of hair in the front and dyed it a bright purple. It was most empowering.

The beaded flag may also be attached to a thin band to be worn around the upper arm.


Red and white 1/2-inch glass beads

Two red beads 1/6 inch long and two red beads 2/3 inch long Small light-blue beads to resemble the sky

Waxed dental floss (it is stiff enough to go through the beads and strong) Needle Bias tape Heavy ribbing fabric used to make cuffs for a jacket Liquid Sew

Canadian flag graphic Spaghetti noodle (raw) Pencil


Tape the flag picture to a small, easily transported firm surface like a DVD case. Unfold the bias tape. Tape the back raw edge of the bias tape above the picture.

Use the raw spaghetti noodle as a spacer; it is the same width as the beads. Draw vertical lines on the graphic.

Cut a long piece of dental floss. Tie a blue bead 1-1/2 inches from the bottom of the floss. Thread a red bead onto the floss. Before it reaches the blue bead fold the floss up and through the bottom of the red bead. Repeat for three beads. Cut off any leftover floss. Continue until 13 beads are on the floss. Thread the floss onto the needle. At the edge of the graphic’s red portion of the flag, sew the floss through the bias tape bottom fold, weaving it in and out toward the raw edge. Remove the needle and tape the floss to hold it in place. Repeat seven more times or until the red is covered.

Start the white row the same with the blue bead. I have seven rows of white beads. Yours may vary. Sort through the red beads; if possible find two beads 1/3 the length, and 2/3 the length of the beads. These are for the bottom flare of the leaf.

For the maple leaf, I will give my count for each row up to the centre. Start all rows with one blue bead. Row 1– 5 wh, 1 r, 7 wh. Row 2– 4 wh, 2 r, 7 r. Row 3– 4 wh, 3 r, 6 wh. Row 4– 3 wh, 4 r, 6 wh. Row 5– 4 wh, 4 r, 5 wh. Row 6– 3 wh, 4 r, 6 wh. Row 7– 3 wh, 5 r, 5 wh. Row 8– 3 wh, 5 r, 5 wh. Row 9– 2 wh, 5 r, 6 wh. Row 10– 2 wh, 5 r, 6 wh. Row 11– 1 wh, 1 smallest red bead, 5 r, 6 wh. Row 12 – 1 wh, 1 medium r, 1 wh, 4 r, 3 wh, 1 r, 2 wh. Row 13– 1 wh, 6 r, 2 wh, 1 r, 3 wh. Row 14– 1 wh, 6 r, 1 wh, 2 r, 3 wh. Row 15 – 1 wh, 9 r, 1 wh, 3 wh. Row 16 – 1 wh, 9 r, 3 wh. Row 17– 1 wh, 10 r, 2 wh. Row 18– 1 wh, 11 r, 1 wh. Row 19– 12 r, 1 wh. Continue in reverse to complete second half.

Once all the beaded rows cover the flag graphic and are sewn through the bias tape, squirt the Rapid Sew over the threads and the back half of the bias tape. When it is dry, cut off the excess threads. Fold the back raw edge down and into the centre. Trim off bias tape ends.


Measure the length along the arm for the PICC line. Add two inches. Measure around the arm, below and above the PICC. Cut the ribbing at the same measurements. This will give the band enough stretch to hold it in place. Turn the hems under 1/2 inch twice and sew. Along the bottom edge sew the beads in place. Sew inside seam. Slide carefully over PICC line.

The beads on the PICC band or on a thinner band lend a patriotic, eye-catching shimmer to any outfit.

– Dana Ramstedt is a freelance writer and preschool teacher of 18 years.

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