Category Archives: Beads

fabric and yarn beads: update

I made another three-strand wrap-around necklace with my straw beads and rather like the effect of making them a bit chubbier and more shapely! I used some pink and purple DK acrylic yarn for the first layer of wrapping, which fattens them up nicely, then just a few strands of lime green embroidery cotton on top.

Just thought I’d share because I see there have been a lot of visits to my etsy store, so I added these pics to the tutorial as well :) In case you haven’t gotten around to looking yet, the listing is here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1115954156/tutorial-necklace-with-handmade-fabric

Yes, I know, this is a bit of flagrant self-promotion, but you gotta try your best, right?

fabric bead necklace : make it yourself!

I’ve been quiet on social media lately, trying to cut down on the amount of time on which my brain is exposed to the world’s hogwash. It’s not all hogwash, I know, but I get sidetracked very easily so I try to stick to crochet pages and news sites (and have limited the latter to precisely two, because my view is that it’s almost impossible to tell who is telling the truth these days anyway). It’s all just become overwhelming and I’m sick of it.

I’ve been spending my creative time on fabric beads and crocheting another Granny Go Round jersey, and trying to get back into my books in the evenings instead of too much netflix or britbox (although I have to say I’m hooked right now on The Bay – those west Lancashire accents take me right back! I love them).

And I’ve also spent some time writing up a tutorial on making fabric beads from straws and using them in a necklace. It’s available on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1115954156 and is priced at US$4 (the equivalent of South African R65). My friend Kathryn proofed it for me and made some very useful suggestions. I make these beads all the time now and find it both enjoyable and relaxing, and of course it’s a brilliant stashbuster for fabric scraps as well as threads.

I’d be delighted if you took a look :)

Bead me up, Scotty

Fabric beads. It’s a thing. I hadn’t even heard of the concept until a friend recently said she was thinking of running an online workshop on how to make them. My brain lit up like the Blackpool illuminations, and I hit the glorious mazes of pinterest and instagram to find out what I’d been missing.

I’d recently tried making fabric-covered wooden beads but absolutely hated the process — too fiddly, I wasn’t in a glue mood, and didn’t like the messy end result. Experiment aborted.

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But the stitchy-type beads – ah, much more my style. I found some soft thick black fabric, cut a piece roughly 14cm by 6cm, rolled it up like a seasoned pot smoker*, stitched the edges neatly into place, then wrapped it with some burgundy cord, glittery ribbon and little gold beads. Stitched all that into place as I went, using black thread,

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I made three and they didn’t take very long. A most enjoyable process, potential to use up scraps and all sorts of odds-and-ends, and I think the possibilities are endless. I think I’ll turn these into something that will go round my neck. Any other suggestions?

* Fyi  I don’t smoke dope, but that may change as our Level 3 Lockdown continues…. Just saying.

DIY bead tassel

I love tassels. You can make them out of pretty much anything you have lying around, and they can be as fancy or simple as you like.  I made a black and white one this morning for Jane, who is coming round later today to pick it up.

Finished!

Finished!

What you need for one tassel:

1. one large bead with a big hole (this will be the tassel head)

2. a selection of beads in various sizes and shapes

3. a 16cm length of soft cord (you can use ribbon if you prefer)

4. a sharp needle with a narrow eye (I used a #7 crewel needle)

5. strong thread (I used Gutermann topstitching thread)

6. scissors

Beads and cord

What you do:

1.  Cut a short length of thread and fold it over the cord.

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2. Push the thread up through your big bead and pull it out at the top, the cord with it.

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3. Pull the cord up until the loop is about as big as you want it. Leave approx 1.5 cm of cord stub sticking out of the bottom

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4. Thread your needle and knot the end. Run it through the stub and wrap the cord round it a couple of times to make it really secure.

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5. Trim the stub if it’s got a bit fluffy.

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6. Make the first length of beads: thread them on (in the order of your choice), using a little seed bead as the last one.

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7. Skipping the last bead, take your needle and thread back up through all the other beads back to where you started.

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It will look something like this:

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8. Make a couple of stitches through the stub to secure the thread nicely, then start a second length of beads.

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9. Add as many lengths of beads as you like (depending on whether you want your tassel to be slender or chubby), and vary each length slightly.

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10. When you’re happy with how it looks, secure the thread tightly in the stub and carefully trim off any messy bits.  I also like to dab on a bit of clear nail polish or fabric glue, just to make extra sure the thread won’t ever loosen. Push the head down firmly and knot the cord if you wish.

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And that’s it! If anything is unclear, please let me know.

To give you some more ideas, here are some of the tassels currently in my home:

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they're on the key to the linen cupboard

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they’re on the key to the linen cupboard

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

And if you don’t have the materials to make your own tassel, or if you want someone else to have the fun of making one, I’ve finally got around to making up more kits for bead tassel keyrings and listing them on etsy again.

Back soon x

Bead me up, Scottie

Remember when the beading craze hit, about 10 – 15 years ago? I was running a needlework shop at the time, and twice a week the wonderful Caroline Smith used to come in and give beading workshops. I went a bit bead crazy myself, and still have a trillion beads stashed in various places. Even if I’m not making something with them, they are SO PRETTY to look at…

So, I made a couple of beaded sugar bowl covers. They can also be used to cover milk jugs, you know – when you’re serving tea to your friends in the garden in summer and you don’t want flies to go in? The beads around the net circle hold it down so it won’t blow off.  It’s a bit Victorian, I suppose, but that whole style made a big come-back.

I don’t know where mine are now, but here are some that a friend of Nicola’s made (so you get the idea):

And here is another one, now put into use as a decoration for a paper lantern light fitting:

All it needed was a bit of glue, some fray-stoppa and a pair of very sharp herb scissors!

To be continued…