How to Make Fabric-bound Beadscomments (8) March 14th, 2008
If you've ever longed to be a jewelry designer, here's your chance. Knotting beads into a tube of fabric couldn't be easier, and the results are magnificent. In fact, Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton, and Versace have shown these beauties in recent collections—not only as accessories but also sewn directly onto garments. For fabric, choose a lightweight chiffon (as shown), mesh, power netting, stretchy lace, or a fine knit. As you'll see, you'll cut your tube on the bias (a 45° angle to the fabric's straight grain), and that builds in a little stretch to get around those bulky beads.
What You'll Need:
Nail polish remover and metallic spray paint (optional)
Fabric and Fray Check
Sewing machine and thread
Clasp, eyepins, endcap
Step 1: Cut a bias strip
To find true bias, fold your fabric 45° to the selvage (the tightly woven edge). Cut a strip along the fold to fit the bead width, plus an 1⁄8-inch seam allowance. To allow for knotting, make sure that the strip length is three times the finished length of the necklace. Piece the strip as necessary to get that length.
Step 2: Sew a tube
Set your machine stitch length to 15 stitches per inch so that the stitches don’t pop when you stuff the beads. With right sides together, machine-sew the tube using an 1⁄8-inch seam allowance. Stretch the tube as you sew. Turn it right-side out using a needle and doubled thread.
Step 3: Paint wooden beads
Give wooden beads a metallic shine. In a well-ventilated area, wipe the beads clean with nail polish remover to remove existing varnish, and then spray paint them. Let them dry completely.
Step 4: Add a medallion (optional)
If you want to add a center medallion, add it before you stuff the tube with beads. Double the tube as shown, and then slip it through the medallion. Push the two raw tube ends through the loop to secure.
Step 5: Stuff and knot
If you aren’t using a medallion, knot one raw end of the tube. Insert a bead. Tie a knot using knotting pliers to get a tight, flush fit. Repeat for the length of the necklace.
Step 6: Add an end cap
For longer necklaces you can simply knot the ends. For a choker style you’ll need to add a clasp.
Insert an eyepin over the last knot. Add an end cap. With round-nose pliers, form a partial loop.
Step 7: Insert the clasp
Attach the decorative clasp to the end cap’s partial loop, and then close the loop. Repeat this process at the other end of the necklace.
Photos by Sloan Howard
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