Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Flannel Beads

Red flannel beads

Here we have an upcycling trifecta: cloth beads made from scraps of cloth left over from creating a new piece of conceptual couture (see That Dog Don't Hunt) from second-hand shirts. Now that's recycling! There is something wonderfully tactile and visually pleasing about cloth beads.

Making the beads is easy, but requires a bit of manual dexterity. Cut long strips of cloth and roll the strip into a bead, which will require continually shifting the direction of the rolling motion as you form the bead to create a sphere. Have a needle pre-threaded (it's hard to thread a needle while holding a tightly compressed cloth sphere in one hand). Tuck the first knotted stitch under a flap of cloth, and then bring the needle through the cloth and start winding. After one or two winds, drive the needle through the sphere. Repeat. As you near the end of the thread, drive the needle back and forth a few times through the cloth, which should help to keep the thread secure, and then snip off whatever is left over. See close-up of cloth bead below.

Close-up of cloth bead

Make different sizes of beads for variety. Use longer or shorter strips of cloth to control the end size, or start with a wad of cloth and wind strip around it to create a really large bead.

Close-up of cloth bead

What to do with all of these beads? 

Make a necklace. Use an embroidery needle and embroidery thread that complements the color of your beads. Simply string the beads. You should find that there is enough friction/tension to hold the beads in place along the thread.

Red flannel bead necklace

Close-up of necklace

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