A little about the materials:
I work with all my own hand-dyed silks. I order my silks and dyes from Dharma. They are a great resource.
If you’re interested in silk dyeing, check out my how-to post here: How to Dye Silk
Also, feel free to contact me with any questions!
I work with a variety of types of silk, but for this tutorial I’ll be using silk charmeuse, a thick, high-sheen fabric.
Step One: Tear the Fabric
- Gauge the width needed.
First, I make strip of fabric wide enough for the beads to fit in when it’s sewn into a tube. Decide by the width of your largest bead, and remember it’s always better to cut a little wider than too thin. You can always cut away excess later.
- Tear; don’t cut.
The best way to create an even-width piece of fabric is to tear it because it will tear along the weave, whereas cutting on a perfectly straight line requires some measuring and care.
Make a snip with the scissors to get started. Tear almost to the end, then snip again so you don’t distort the selvedge.
Step Two: Pinning
- Fold the fabric wrong-side-out, and pin along the edge.
Step Three: Stitch and Stitch Again
One thing to note about silk is that the edges start to unravel immediately, especially with the charmeuse. Maybe it’s the slippery fibers, but silk unravels more quickly and to a greater degree than any other fabric I’ve worked with.
Because of the unraveling, it’s good to do a little extra stitching.
- First, use a zigzag stitch close to the edge.
- Then add a straight stitch just inside the zigzag.
Step Four: Turn Right-side-out
- Turn the fabric right-side-out.
The thinner the tube, the harder this is.
Step Five: Insert Jewelry Wire
- Cut a piece of jewelry wire that is about 5 or 6 inches longer than your fabric.
- Insert the jewelry wire in the silk tube with a large, dull needle. (Try not to puncture the fabric.)
Step Six: Finish Off One End
- Tuck in the raw edges on one end of the tube.
- Gather and hand-sew the end shut around the wire with a matching color thread.
Step Seven: Add a Bead
- Place a bead on the wire and guide it all the way to the finished end of the tube.
- Take a sewing needle and matching thread, and starting at the finished end, sew through the bead using the wire for guidance.
- Push the needle back through the fabric as close to the end of the bead as you can.
- Wrap the thread around the fabric tightly several times to secure the bead in place and create spherical shape.
- Continue this process until you have almost reached the end of the fabric.
Note: You can use a contrasting color thread for a little color pop between each bead.
Also, you will likely run out of thread somewhere along the way and have to re-thread. Attach your new thread at one of the intersections between beads.
Step Eight: Close Off the Fabric
- Tuck in the raw edge of the fabric, and sew it shut as you did at the very beginning.
Step Nine: Finishing
Finish the back necklace with a few decorative beads at each end.
- Slip a few beads (as many as you want or can fit) onto the excess wire at each end of the necklace.
- Slip the wire through one end of a clasp; add a crimp bead; and send the wire back through one or two of the beads.
- Smash the crimp bead with jewelry pliers to keep everything in place.
- Cut the excess jewelry wire.
- Repeat with the other end of the necklace and the other half of the clasp.
Step Ten: Enjoy!
- If you make your own silk statement necklace, I’d love to see it. Please share!
Also visit my Etsy shop to see other silk statement necklaces.