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Boho Cloth Bead Bracelet Tutorial (Fabric Stash Busting Project)

Who out there has trouble throwing away any scrap of fabric, no matter how small or probably useless? I know I do! The only bits I can throw away without regret are the trimmed selvages. I have the hardest time getting rid of these nice little squares created by the method I use to create my rock climbing chalk bags and essential oil bags. I have all these beautiful 2″ and 1.75″ squares that are too small for anything, but look so perfect and pretty!

This project was created with all those little fabric scraps and stash of leftover bits in mind. By turning your fabric scraps into beads, you can both “bust your stash” and make something nifty! The boho style fabric bead bracelets are effortless to wear and are a fun casual summer project, perfect for those rainy days that keep you in when you’d rather be out!

Boho Fabric Bead Bracelet Tutorial

It’s a good thing I did most of the work on a recent rainy day and only left taking “action” shots of the finished bracelets until the day before publishing this tutorial because my bicycle was just stolen! If I hadn’t done so much work “ahead of time,” I wouldn’t have been able to post a tutorial today. Calling people, filling out police reports, being upset, etc. took several hours of my afternoon. The bike was still there when I got back from taking these pictures at 11:30, then it was gone when I left for my daily Post Office run at 1:30. Sad face. At least I was already planning to drive to the PO – when Papi Chulo is home I (used to) bike. I would have been even more frustrated if I’d suddenly found myself walking there with yesterday’s orders!

I’ll be totally honest with you – you’re probably going to get glue all over your fingers, and making enough beads for more than one bracelet does take a little bit of time. Not a crazy amount of “active” time, but you have to wait for the glue to dry before you can make a bracelet. It is pretty easy, though, and if you’re a crafter you probably already have everything you need on hand!

Supplies for making a fabric bead bracelet

  • Scrap fabric
  • Fabric glue (I prefer “Fabric Fusion” for this project)
  • Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (optional)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Stretch cord or stretchy string (I used .5 mm cord)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • A small piece of tape

supplies for making fabric beads-2

This tutorial is written for a “bracelet,” but you can just as easily make a necklace, instead! Or multiple necklaces  – that will really bust your stash!

 

Below most of the numbered steps there’s a video showing you how to do the most complicated steps in the tutorial. It isn’t a full step by step tutorial by itself, so please read the instructions then watch the video to see rolling the fabric beads in action and to learn how to secure that ever difficult stretch cord. =)

Fabric bead bracelet tutorial

1. Gather up your scraps! If they’re wrinkly, iron them. You want them to look like the front stack, not the back pile!

fabric stash to bust

2. Cut your fabric into strips. I used my rotary cutting supplies and made pieces about 1/2″ wide and 2-3″ long. I experimented and discovered that narrow rectangles are way easier to cut than the triangles we usually associate with paper bead making and far easier to use. I eventually cut each rolled strip into two, or even three, beads. If you plan to cut your beads down, you’ll get two beads from each fabric strip.  Wrist sizes vary, but there are about two dozen beads on each of my bracelets, which means each one only used about 12 strips of fabric.

3. Get your skewer, glue, and a strip of fabric. You’ll probably want a paper towel to wipe your hands on between beads, too!

supplies for making fabric beads

4. Apply a fairly generous line of glue on the “right” side of the fabric.

glue the strip of fabric

5. Spread the glue around on the front of the fabric, then rub a little along the “wrong” side at the end opposite from where you plan to start rolling the bead. Begin rolling the fabric strip around the skewer, but make sure not to wrap it too tightly or the bead won’t slide off!

wrap glued fabric around skewer

6. Finish wrapping the bead and smooth the end down. Add more glue, if needed.

roll glued fabric around skewer

7. Slide the bead off the skewer and set it aside. Putting it on wax paper, a piece of plastic, etc can keep it from sticking to your table as it dries but, quite honestly, I just left my beads on the table and made sure to roll them around a couple times while they dried and none of the beads gave me trouble.

glued fabric bead

You will see little stringy bits on the edges of your beads. Don’t worry about them right now – we will fix this after the glue has dried.

stringy bits to trim on fabric beads

8. Keep on keeping on making beads and wiping/washing your hands as needed until you have at least half the number of rolled beads as you want finished beads.

9. Allow the beads to dry fully. They’re usually okay to work with in a couple hours, but it depends on how much glue you used and what the weather is like (no, really!).

10. Use your scissors to trim away stringy ends, as desired.

11. Cut your beads in half, or even thirds, if you want. Make sure to cut the beads far “back” on the scissors – get each bead as close to the scissor’s jaws as possible. The beads may become slightly flattened, but if they’re fully dry you should be able to easy press them back into shape. The beads on the right in the photo below have been cut in half.

fabric beads

12. Cut a piece of stretch cord that’s at least three inches longer than your wrist.

13. Fold a piece of tape around one end of the cord, or tie it around something like a locking stitch marker or safety pin. This will keep the beads from falling off as you work!

tape end of stretch cord

14. String your beads!

thread beads on stretch cord

15. Once your bracelet is long enough, you’re ready to tie it off!

fabric bead bracelet in progress

Stretch cord is notoriously annoying to tie. The packaging that came with your cord will probably have some advice on how to secure it. I use a “surgeons knot,” which is basically a square knot with an extra twist, then trimmed the ends, put a dollop of glue on the knot, and pulled the knot inside a bead so the glue would secure it in place.

Instead of posting photos for basically invisible stretch cord being tied into a knot, I made a video! This video shows how to roll the beads, cut them, string them, and how to tie off the stretch cord.

16. Make as many bracelets as you’d like – they’re perfect for stacking! Then enjoy wearing them. =)

These fabric bead bracelets look just as great on you wrist while you fix your hair:

fabric bead bracelets in use

As they do when you get photobombed!

selfie photobomb

Okay, so that really isn’t a bad photobomb because she’s not between me and the camera, but she totally wasn’t there when I checked my camera settings and then was there when I looked at the picture.

Because I know someone will ask about Mod Podge – I love Mod Podge as much as the next girl, but I can’t really recommend it for this project. It will technically work, but it’s an even bigger mess, doesn’t dry as nicely, and leaves a sort of funny sheen on the fabric. I know because I made several beads with it as a test! Feel free to use whatever glue you like best, but Fabric Fusion is definitely my top pick for this project.

Did you ever make those paper beads? I’m pretty sure I did, but when I think about making beads as a kid I mostly remember this cool clay set with molds. You formed the beads around a dowel, put them in the molds, and then you could paint them once they hardened. Or, at least, that’s the way I remember it! Did anyone else have one of these kits?

natashal

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Duni May 14, 2015, 04:39

    Your bike was stolen?!! Oh no. So sorry that happened. I can relate to the hassel, as it’s happened to a friend of mine over here too.
    Those boho bracelets look great! I know of the paper beads, I didn’t realize fabrics work too 🙂
    I’m always trying to incorporate my scraps in some project!

    • Natashalh May 14, 2015, 05:24

      Yes, sadly. =( It was taken from the garage under the apartment building during lunch time yesterday! I’m calling our renter’s insurance company again as soon as I finish my coffee – hopefully they can help me out.

      I honestly didn’t realize fabric worked, either, until I tried! I had the idea, gave it a go, experimented a little, and now here we are. =)

  • BeadedTail May 14, 2015, 11:37

    Clever idea Natasha! They do look great while you’re fixing your hair or getting photo bombed! I actually didn’t even see her back there until you pointed it out. LOL! Sorry about your bike and hope your insurance company helps with getting a new one.

    • Natashalh May 14, 2015, 12:58

      Unfortunately, the bike + rack cost $475 and our deductible is $500! I guess that means if anything else gets stolen this year we’re good to go, right?

      I didn’t notice the other person in the photo until I was editing the picture!

  • Edi May 15, 2015, 02:28

    I love the multiple colors all together! This bracelet would look great with any outfit.
    I do remember making paper beads. And we bought our niece one of those clay bead sets for Christmas one year, so I got to help her play with her gift 🙂

    • Natashalh May 15, 2015, 05:42

      Now that I’m an “adult,” I realize that getting to “help” with toys given as gifts is really just an excuse to play with it! Which is totally fine. =)

  • Judy Nolan May 17, 2015, 11:53

    Great tutorial, easy-to-follow, and fun stash-busting project! I used to make beads like this out of paper, but using fabric scraps instead is inspired. So sorry about your bike, though!

    • Natashalh May 17, 2015, 12:17

      You work a lot more with paper than I do – I have lots of fabric scraps! I still have many more, though, so I’d better start thinking of more stash-busting projects.

  • Rose May 17, 2015, 15:50

    I’m so sorry to hear about your bike. 🙁 That’s awful.

    I definitely made lots of paper beads back in the day. I love the idea of using fabric scraps, too. Thanks for another great tutorial!

    • Natashalh May 17, 2015, 18:08

      Yeah, I’m pretty bummed about the bike. I really liked it! But, like I said, if that’s the worst thing that happens this year I’m doing great. I really like the fabric beads as an alternative to paper because they seem a little more durable (plus I have more fabric scraps than paper ones!)

  • Bonnie May 18, 2015, 02:11

    Those bracelets are so pretty. I have a ton of scrap fabric that would work nicely for this project. I would love for you to link up at the Stitch It, Blog It, Share It Link Party going on now. http://www.behindtheseamssewing.com/2015/05/stitch-it-blog-it-share-it-link-party-2.html

    • Natashalh May 18, 2015, 04:19

      Thank you for stopping by and thanks for inviting me to party! =)

  • Paige May 18, 2015, 03:43

    I saw your Facebook posts about the bike. That totally sucks. 🙁

    This bracelet is just like the paper beads I made when I was a kid! I loooooooved them. I’ll keep an eye out for more fabric stash projects, because I also have quite the hoard.

    • Natashalh May 18, 2015, 04:20

      It’s an occupational hazard. =) Fabric scraps, that is, not stolen bikes.

  • marieken May 18, 2015, 07:32

    I’m sorry to hear about your bike! I would get really mad if my bike would ever get stolen. I wouldn’t know what to know without it.
    And I like the bracelets, the tape-thing is very clever, I’ll keer that in mind.

    • Natashalh May 18, 2015, 08:43

      Taping the end is so helpful! I had a horrible time stringing the beads until I thought of it.

      I am super bummed about the stolen bike. I really liked my bike and used it a lot! Before I moved to Hawaii, I would bike to and from work and school.

  • Robin May 19, 2015, 03:12

    Hi! Really cute idea! Just wondering if they survive getting wet?

    • Natashalh May 19, 2015, 05:54

      They sure should! That’s exactly why I used the glue I did – it is washable after 24 hours. If you use Mod Podge or something, probably not. Just make sure to use a waterproof fabric glue and you should be good to go!

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