Project Minima:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fabric Scraps to Fiber Jewels

After making fabric-based necklace sets as gifts for friends,  I made similar ones to keep for myself:

striped knit fabric cut in narrow strips

and tied in multiple knots
matching bracelet with rolled fabric bead

fabric scraps from my favorite elephant print dress

rolled into beads and strung onto a strip of black chiffon
bracelet made with black knit strip knotted on either side of bead

I continued experimenting with the forms.  To see what I came up with and also for a quick showing of how-to, continue after the break.

Here, I just waded up small bits of scrap fabric any which way around a chopstick and then bound it together by sewing it up with gold flecked string.  I even used snipped off thread scraps for one of the round beads!

Gold Bound Necklace Set

fabric scraps bound with string

that's the thread ball on your left
and strung on wrapped bronze organza 
 metallic threads unraveled from cloth twisted around itself, with satin rolled and bound by seed beads

Next up is this necklace made from scraps left over from my reversible coat of tapestry and velvet:
coat scrap beads threaded on velveteen strip of scrap
here is were I started stitching the rolled beads with thread

dangle bead - stitching made all the difference in transforming this one

bracelet made from wrapped paper around wire that loops into stretchy fabric

Now seed beads become more part of the action, as well as more defined stitching patterns:

Black and Tan Necklace Set

using silver seed beads, silver metallic thread, and knit fabric scraps

keeping the palette simple

bracelet wraps around twice with stretch knit cording

There's more, but here's a quick couple photos which are pretty much self explanatory on how this is done:

fabric rolled onto chopsticks and pinned in place

fabric is cut in long, narrow triangles.  size and shape determines bead

Raw beads, wrapped and pinned, but before stitched or strung.

These are the beads from my reversible coat used in 4th necklace shown above.  I stitch them after they are strung.

So that's how I've been doing it.  You could also use straws, knitting needles, artist's paint brushes, rather than chopsticks.  You can use paper rather than fabric scraps, glue rather than sewing.  Straws would be cool because then you could just leave them inside and cut at the edges of the bead.  That way you wouldn't have to negotiate the bead off the chopstick and you'd have no trouble stringing it on your new cording.  I use dull manicure scissors or tweezers to sometimes pull the cording through the bead. 

Anyway, there's no way they don't come out looking terrific.  I find stitching them really makes all the difference in giving them a little more oomph and direction.  And then adding anything metallic is hard to resist.  Oh the places you'll go.


  1. These are wonderful! Your creativity amazes me. They would be wonderful gifts indeed and I can see why you needed to make some for yourself after having to give away such lovely fruits of your own labour!

    1. Welcome back to the bloghood! Making these beads is addictive, or rather meditative. I so enjoy it and luv the fact that I'm using up bits and pieces of my favorite fabrics. I haven't been able to stop yet.

  2. Thanks for showing how you made these lovely beads. I am getting more & more tempted to have a go. Using straws & leaving them in is a really good idea. I can see another rubbish collecting bag on the

    1. Yes, those tiny scraps left over from your quilting would be ideal. Even the thread clippings!

  3. Awesome, Pao! They are like a fairytale where the bits fished from the drain (made of crystal) are all jewels and gold and diamonds. I love the organic somewhat amorphous character of these pieces.

    1. Yeah, I like the rough and tumble quality with each having its own touch. Just needed the fairytale back story. Thanks Melanie!

  4. OMG!!!!! So great. I particulary like the cloth bound in little string cages ... there's something illicit hinted at here! As if the cloth wanted to escape, but NO! All of it ... so fabulous, so you.

    1. I've made Rorschach beads!! Not so much S&M beads, Jan, more like little packets honoring special fragments. least, that's my story. And what a wonderful thing to say, Jan, "so fabulous, so you." I'm gonna pass that one around.

  5. Oooh, how delightful! Textile jewelry! (Makes me almost wish I still wore those things.) Of course you made some for you - you deserve your own presents!

    1. Why don't you? I can envision you in something like these along with some of your other lovely creations!!

    2. Yeah, me too Louisa. All those Tilton tunic tops...

  6. These are so very pretty and each one different! I love how you can take textiles from beloved garments and rework them yet again. I will definitely try this and will be sharing it with other crafty friends/artists. Thank you so much for the vision and the breakdown on the technique.


    1. You already have so much cool jewelry - and even make your own metal ones!!! But it would be cool to see what you'd do with your scraps. By the way, I've finally made some arm warmers/ fingerless gloves and now I can't stop! You, and then the gift from my friend E, got me going. Thanks for all your inspiration, Jean.