Expanding the Horizons of Fabric Beads

I just finished a blog and lost it. How on earth does that happen. Anyway it was about actually making the beads now that you have some fabric decided on.

I make two types of beads: tubes and ovals. Use a rotary cutter on a mat for the most consistant beads. You’ll also need a 18″ plastic ruler–the type used to cut fabric for quilts. You will cut your fabric lengths with consideration for the thickness of the fabric and the diameter of the straw. Here are the basics, but you’ll have to do a little experimenting to see what works for you: thin coffee stirrers, cut strips in 11/2″-2″ lengths; regular straws, cut fabric strips in 3″ lengths; jumbo straws, cut fabric strips in 5″-6″ lengths. These lengths make for good, sturdy beads. Remeber to cut with the grain of the fabric.

Tringles start with rectangles. The width of the bead ranges from 1/2″ to 2″. I like the shorter beads best as they lay nicest. Once you have your rectangle, place the ruler about 1/2″ up the bead and diagonally between the edge and the center of the bead. Do the same on the other side. You will generally roll these on the coffee stirrers.

Prepare a drying rack. You can use chopsticks with a rubber band wrapped around several times and stuck into a container with dry beans in it, or toothpicks stuck into packing foam blocks. That is my preferance.

For gluing you will need your fabric strips, straws, Weldbond glue, spatula (small), and newsprint or newspaper. I also keep a wet rag hand for wiping hands. You don’t want glue on the exterior of the bead as it leaves a smudge. Pleace the fabric face side down on the paper, add a bit of glue at the top and fold it over the straw. Add glue to the rest of the fabric, smooth with the spatula, and roll around the straw. Voila, your first bead. Place it on the drying rack and step away from the bead. Don’t futz with it or you chance ruining it. Beads must dry thoroughly befor they will release from the straw.

Now that you have some dry beads, take them off the straws, trim loose fibers and prepare to paint the ends. This ensures they will be solid. I love metallic acrylic paint for this, but do use acrylic craft paint as well. Shake the bottle well, then dip the ends into the cap where paint has settled. Do one end at a time and wait for it to dry before you do the other end. Your beads are now ready to string.

What do you know about making jewelry? This is where the real adventure begins. I had to buy more books and find a beading buddy so that I wan’t reinventing the wheel. I must say that my supplies have grown with my knowledge. Can’t walk into a Joann’s or Michael’s without heading for the bead section, never mind a specialty bead store. And I’ve expanded the range of what I do. The following photo is an example of uisng fun fur and wrapped wooden beads.

Let me know what you need instruction in and I’ll be glad to share what I know.

Expanding the Horizons of Fabric Beads

Fun Fur and Fun