Monday, December 13, 2010

Tutorial - Fabric and Wooden Bead Necklace

Wow! It's been a very busy few weeks and I just haven't had time until now to get this tutorial together. Finally, it is done! It's easy and I've taken lots of photos so that you can (hopefully!) understand what's going on.


  • Fabric - you could use just one fabric for the tube and the ties, or use two coordinating fabrics like I have here. It needs to be thin enough to tie knots in easily - cotton is good.
  • Wooden beads - size depends on how chunky you want the necklace to be :)
  • Coordinating cotton thread
  • Sewing machine!
  • Optional - fusible interfacing (if your fabric of choice is stretchy or thin it can be make life easier)

What to do:

I'll warn you here and now that I'm not a precise person when it comes to craft. I do this just for fun and I usually enjoy doing lots of small projects quite quickly rather than having big long term projects. Measuring is boring :) (Okay, okay.. it's sometimes important!) Thus, my cutting isn't always straight and I tend not to hem or do any fancy stuff on edges - you can of course suit yourself and do this if you want ;)

First - gather materials! I like to wash and iron all of my fabric before I start.

Work out how much material you need for your tube and your two ties. Typically, I use a 100cm long strip for the tube and two 50cm ones for the ties - this makes it easy to make out of a fat quarter, as you basically cut four strips (2 for the ties, 2 for the tube) and sew the two tube ones together. In this case I used a fat quarter for the ties but not the tube, so I skipped that step.

To work out how wide the fabric needs to be, get your bead and fold the fabric over it, leaving a decent amount for the seam. Be generous - if there's too much room in the tube after sewing you can always sew a little closer, but you can't exactly make a too-small tube bigger! Cut your tube and your tie pieces to the same width. 

If you're using interfacing, cut it now and fuse it to the fabric.

Fold all of pieces in half (with the printed sides in) and pin them. 

Sew all of these into tubes. 

Now is a good time to eyeball your seams and make sure your sewing isn't tooo close at any part of the edge. If it is, sew it up a bit better ;) Otherwise your seam could come apart when you're tying your beads in and that is definitely not fun! Trust me, I managed to do this the first time I made one of these! If you do make a mistake usually some sneaky knotting can hide any problems if you're like me and too slack to go back and fix it properly... 

Next, grab your biggest bead (or any bead if you're using all the same size like I am here) and push it through your tube from one end to the other (don't worry about the ties). This should let you judge if the tube is the right diameter. Too small and unfortunately you're either going to have to unpick it and try again, or - again, if you're lazy like me - find some smaller beads :) Too big and you'll want to sew in a little closer - I wouldn't bother to unpick the first one, it'll help hold it in place anyway. When the tube is the right diameter, you can trim off any excess if you want.

At one end of each tie, sew diagonally so that you have a nice triangular end to your tie. 

Chop off the excess.

Turn your tubes inside out. Easy peasy, right? OK, not always. What I do is use a rod of some kind to help turn it inside out, just make sure the rod doesn't have a sharp end that will damage your fabric. My beader tool here is pretty good. Tuck a bit of the fabric over the top, hold it in place while you get started, then roll the rest of the tube over it. Pull it off the rod and pull it out straight - viola!

Now the fun part - adding the beads! I usually like to tie a knot in the very middle of the tube. If you're using two 50cm lengths sewed together, this will hide the seam. If you're not, then you can start with a bead in the middle if you prefer. Just alternate beads and knots until you've filled most of the tube.

You should leave enough room at each end of the tube so you can slide another bead in, but not knot it. If you have a lot of spare fabric on the ends, trim some off.

Roll the ends of the tie into itself so no rough edges are showing and slip the end of the tube inside the tie end. 

Sew across the join - I like to sew back and forth a few times for strength and end on the same side I started. This makes it easier to hide the loose ends. Trim off the excess cotton. Repeat with the other tie and the other end of the tube.

Tie one last knot on each side - fiddle around with it a bit so that you hide the seam inside the knot. I've made about 10 of these necklaces now and managed to hide the seam in every single one, so persevere!
You're done! Tie the ties in a pretty bow and there you are :) 
You can wear it long or short, both look fab!

Variation ideas:

  • Make it shorter or don't add the ties and turn it into a bracelet instead
  • Make it extra long or make two or three in coordinating colours to have multiple stranded necklaces
  • Use smaller or larger beads, or even different sizes in the same necklace
  • Use paper, glass or some other type of bead for a different weight
  • Experiment with different shaped beads - oval or cube might look cool!
  • Tie ribbon between the beads or sew thread between them instead of knotting - this would work well for daintier wooden beads where the big knots would look clunky.
  • Use ribbon instead of two fabric strips for the ties
  • Instead of using a single sheet of fabric, sew coordinating fabrics together in strips or patchwork and use that to make the fabric tube and ties
  • Attach a charm or pendant of some sort - one made out of co-ordinating fabric or felt with some beaded embellishments would look pretty awesome!
... I'd love to see what ideas other people come up with!


Tasha said...

So cute! I love necklaces and a fabric one...LOVE. Thank you for coming and sharing it.

Rissa @ Hazel and Honeysuckle said...

My pleasure! I'm glad you like it :D

Make handmade said...

Great tutorial, i love it, thanks for sharing

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