How to Make Fabric-bound Beads

comments (8) March 14th, 2008     

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Maui Maui, member
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Give your favorite beads an upgrade with sheer fabric.
Cut a bias strip.
Sew a tube.
Give your favorite beads an upgrade with sheer fabric.

Give your favorite beads an upgrade with sheer fabric.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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:
Measuring tape
Nail polish remover and metallic spray paint (optional)
Fabric and Fray Check
Sewing machine and thread
Knotting pliers
Clasp, eyepins, endcap
Round-nose pliers
Medallion (optional)

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.

Cut a bias strip from sheer fabric.

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.

Turn using needle and 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.

Spray paint the beads to add a metallic shine.

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.

Loop the medallion to secure it in place before you add beads.

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.

Tie a knot after each bead; glass and plastic beads lend a bit of sparkle to your design.

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.

Attach an end cap using pliers.

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.

Attach the clasp.

Photos by Sloan Howard

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Comments (8)

ArtInspiredGifts writes: Great tutorial! If you had beads with large holes you could slide some over the outside of the fabric stripe to add some color and texture. Thanks for the inspiration.
Posted: 11:58 am on August 7th
clothingeng writes: Nice tutorial, thanks :)
Posted: 11:08 am on August 7th
thread123 writes: I was going to ask the same question about decorating the beads if they weren't going to show but I see someone already has and that makes sense. I have seen this project before but this tutorila has a more finished idea with the clasp more professional looking. Thank-you.
Posted: 8:14 am on August 7th
whizbang writes: Chachito, I think they paint the beads metallic because they use a sheer fabric for the tube. The metallic finish will shine a little through the fabric. (Like it does in the necklace on the left in the photo.)
Posted: 4:56 pm on August 6th
chachito writes: Did I misunderstand something? If the bids go inside the tube, why do they need to be painted or embellished?
I would appreciate if somebody could clarify this for me. Thanks,
Posted: 3:03 pm on August 6th
rr528 writes: Sew it onto a garment, huh...? Hmmm...interesting...
Posted: 12:26 pm on August 6th
trusk4u writes: What a great idea! I have stacks of fabric from old sewiing projects.The possiblities are endless. Good way to upcycle that fabric,and you could use beads from a thrift store.
A big thanks for posting this.
Posted: 8:46 pm on June 3rd
Candie_Cooper writes: Nice tutorial! Now I just have to decide which fabric to try which is no easy task.... Thanks for posting this. :-)
Posted: 12:00 pm on April 10th
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