Thursday, June 12, 2014


If you have spent any time hanging around my virtual studio you know I almost can't bear to throw away those delicious snippets and scraps of fabrics, fibers, and papers leftover from projects.  I am always looking for ways to use them up. One way I like to use extra fabric scraps is to make beads that can be used in jewelry making or mixed-media embellishment.  This not a new concept and there are various ways of making the beads, I thought I would share my preferred method with you.

* Bamboo Skewer
* Scraps of Fabric - generally a 4 to 6 inch piece - plain or printed cotton, muslin, and canvas all make good bead bases
* Aileen's Tacky Glue
* Spreader or Old Gift Card or Fake Credit Card or Small piece of stiff cardboard
* Wax Paper
* Printable Pattern (optional) - I usually just use my odd shaped scraps or free form cut them for shaped beads but for those who prefer a pattern the printable below works well for different shape beads of fabric or paper:
To print, right click on image, choose "save image as" on your drop down menu to save to your computer or choose "print" option and then print in your chosen print program.

* 20, 24 or 26 Gauge Wire
* Wire Cutters
* Round Nose Pliers
* Seed or Small Beads
* Fibers
* Paper Snippets
* Scissors


* Cut, rip, or snip your fabric into a 3 to 6 inch long strip (the longer you make the strip the fatter your bead will be), be sure to use at least a 1 inch width (the wider your fabric is the longer your bead will be), you can play with the measurements to achieve different effects
* Roll one end of fabric scrap around bamboo skewer working an inch or so away from the pointed end of the skewer until skewer is completely covered. If using  printable pattern be sure to roll the flat cut end not the pointed one
* Add a small bead of glue, fabric to fabric, making sure not to get any on skewer, you don't want your bead glued to the stick
* Holding the rolled fabric gently in place, lay on wax paper, run a bead of glue down the center of the fabric from roll to loose end of fabric
* Use spreader, old gift card, or face credit card, or stiff cardboard and smooth glue from rolled end to loose end of fabric
* Gently lift and roll between thumb and finger to coil fabric around itself on the skewer, make sure you don't wind too tightly or bead will not be easily removed from skewer
* If needed dab excess glue from spreader on end of fabric strip and smooth to secure
* Gently slide bead off of skewer being careful not to disturb the shape and lay aside on piece of waxed paper to thoroughly dry
Once the beads are dry they are ready for embellishing.


* To embellish, slide dry bead back onto bamboo skewer, this will allow you to tightly embellish without losing the shape of the bead or narrowing the opening
* Using paper scraps, fabric scraps, or fibers, arrange around bead (optional)


* Cut a 16 inch  length of  24 or 26 gauge wire per bead, holding embellishments in place wrap one end of wire around bead and twist a couple of times to secure leaving a small tail of wire
* Add a seed or small bead, loop wire around bead, continue adding beads and wrapping until you like the look of your bead, wind wire back to beginning, beading the opposite side of the bead as you wrap. Twist wire ends to secure
*Clip off excess wire, use needle nose pliers to tuck clipped ends into bead OR for an added decorative touch twist ends of wire together to from a 1 inch or longer wire rope, clip off excess wire, with round nose pliers curl into a coil, flatten coil to bead

* Slide off of skewer and string.


* Cut a 16 in length of 20 or 24 gauge wire
* Form a loop in the wire using round nose pliers as shown leaving a 3 inch tail
* Wrap loose tail of wire around long end of wire 3 times
* Slide a small bead onto the wire, twist 3 or 4 times to secure, clip excess
* Slide fabric bead onto wire
* Add fiber embellish to bead if desired (optional)
(I did not do this step in the demo)
* Wrap wire in a coil form up the length of the bead as shown, you can add seed or small beads as you coil if desired, wrap wire twice under beginning bead and coil back to other end of bead
* When you reach the other end of the bead make another loop, slip on another small bead, wrap loose end of wired around 2 times above bead, then 2 times below bead as shown
* Going in the opposite direction, wrap wire in a coil back to starting bead, wrap loose end of wire twice under bead, clip excess
* Add jump rings or chain your own beads to use as a link


The beads dry very hard and are very durable, however, if you choose to use any paper embellishment or make paper beads you will need to seal them against moisture, there are several options:

* Clear non-yellowing spray sealer, use in well ventilated area
* Tacky glue or Matte Gel Medium or other durable craft glue thinned with a little water and brushed on
* Mod Podge brushed on
* Clear brush on non-yellowing varnish
I like to make a whole bunch of the bead bases up (warning: this can be addictive) and store them in a jar once they are dry, often preferring to embellish as I use them so I can customize them for whatever project I am working on.

That's a wrap, gotta roll (more beads that is), enjoy!



Lady Jane said...

Those are ingenius!!! So dang cute... LJ

lynn said...

You don't know how glad I am that you are back! One of my fave blogs, using cool materials. Blessings to you.

bobbie said...

These are frabulous, and i can see how they would be quite addictive! Thanks for the great tutorial!

Vee said...

I find this fascinating. It's like yarn bombing...never heard of it until this week. This is a fine tutorial.

Lorrie said...

A very well done tutorial. Would love to see what you do with these.

Lady Locust said...

Beautiful! Love using up every little bit:)

Dorthe said...

Thank you deaR Sandy, for this wonderful tutorial in creating pearls from fabric pieces. I have tried my hand on fabric pearls, but not with this tecnique, so this will be a new adventure for me. Your pearls looks beautiful.

Brynwood Needleworks said...

Hi, Sandy!
This is a great tutorial! I've made the embellished fabric beads, too and you're so right - They ARE addictive! - and a great way to use up fabric scraps in new ways. I have a hard time making another quilt from the scraps used to make a quilt, but this continues to be a perfect way to use them up. You can relax with a tray in front of the tv and roll away!

I hope your summer is off to a great start, my friend. We have lots of fun plans for the Flying Cloud.


Catharina Maria said...

They are beautiful !
Love from Rini .

Lululiz said...

Fabulous tutorial! Your step by step instructions are so logical and so clear, they make it such a joy to try out new things. And these beads are particularly gorgeous.

Curtains in My Tree said...

How generous of you to share your way of making these cute art fartsy little things


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