Tag Archives: DIY




Here’s the promised tutorial for making fabric necklaces!

These necklaces are an easy project that don’t require much skill. The only sewing required is one long, straight seam. This project is also great for using up a scrap of a special fabric that you don’t want to toss out. It can be done in a group, possibly with sewing the tubes beforehand (do the turning together!) and also makes a great Burning Man gift.

beaded fabric necklace DIY

AND I think they’re beautiful. Much prettier than regular Mardi Gras beads!

beaded fabric necklace DIY

fabric necklace DIY

Depending on the size of your necklace, you’ll need a strip of fabric 5-7′ long and about 2-3″ wide, enough to wrap around the circumference of your beads with room to spare, plus seam allowance. Oh yeah, you’ll also need beads. Like everything else, this varies based on your actual supplies, but you’ll use up to about 50 beads.

As a New Orleans native I inevitably have tons of Mardi Gras beads lying around, so I cut those up. At this point I’ve made so many necklaces that I’ve had to have more beads sent out to me in LA.

If you don’t have a huge bag of cheap plastic necklaces sitting in the back of your closet don’t worry. Just about any craft store will sell loose beads. You could also use wooden or glass beads.

I like to make these necklaces out of thin fabrics so that the bright plastic beads shine through. I normally use silk chiffon scraps, but for this example I’m using a poly-chiffon print. If you’re also using a print, keep in mind that the knotting will obscure your pattern, so smaller designs may work better. I’ve also used less-pretty beads and gorgeous opaque fabrics and they always turn out beautiful.

Tying the knots takes up a lot of fabric, so your finished necklace will be about 1/3 the size of your starting fabric. You need to start with a strip about 7′ long to fit around your head when finished. If your fabric is short you can sew two strips together, and disguise the seam with a knot. My fabric is the length of the bolt (5′) and I will be attaching a chain for extra length.

fabric necklace DIY fabric necklace DIY

Measure the circumference around your bead. I like to have my fabric tube be a little bit wider than the bead; this makes it easier to insert the bead and doesn’t require my width to be 100% exact. In this case my bead is 1.5″ around, and I’ve cut my tube to 2.25.”

beaded fabric necklace DIY

I usually sew the seam on my serger, only because I like having the narrow seam allowance bound, and it feels faster than my regular machine. For this example I’m using my Pfaff. I sew very close to the raw edges because I don’t want extra fabric from a large seam allowance to bulk up my tube.


tube turner tube turner tube turner

tube turned tube turned

Once your tube is sewn you need to turn it rightside out. There are special tools for this, including this medieval-looking device, which works well and quickly. It also makes the tube look like a little fabric shrimp.

But no need to drop precious money on a specialized tool if you’re not going to use it often (mine was free anyway). You can turn tubes using just a safety pin.

turning a tube turning a tube turning a tube turning a tube

Attach the pin to one open end of the tube, at least 1/4″ in from the raw edge. Inset the pin head into the tube and grasp it with your other hand, using it like a needle to scrunch up the fabric around it. Keep up this inch-worm action until you get the pin to the other open end, and then pull the tube completely out.

Another way to sew these tubes is on a serger (or you could zigzag stich on a home machine) with wrong sides together, right sides out. You don’t need to turn the tube at all; just leave the stitching exposed. Coordinate your threads to the fabric so that it becomes a ‘design feature’.


beaded fabric necklace DIY

Once your tube is turned you should tie a knot in the middle of it. If your sewe two strips together, make sure the knot is over or immediately next to the seam. You don’t want it to bulge over a bead, where the seam allowance would be very visible.

Insert a bead into either open end of the tube…

beaded fabric necklace DIY

…push the bead down to the first knot…

beaded fabric necklace DIY

….and tie a second knot tight against the bead.

beaded fabric necklace DIY

Now do this about 30 more times.

beaded fabric necklace DIY

Stop when you have about 4-6″ of fabric left at the ends of the beading.

Test the necklace length to see if it can fit over your head. If it’s big enough, then all you have to do is tie the loose ends to each other. They can either be tied in a knot to each other or sewn together.

beaded fabric necklace DIY beaded fabric necklace DIY

If your beaded section is too small to fit around your end, tie each end to a small length of chain.

beaded fabric necklace DIY

I like the way the ends look sticking out, but if you want a neater look you could also stitch these ends down. One could also attach a clasp to the necklace ends, but I prefer the over-the-head Mardi Gras style necklace.

beaded fabric necklace DIY

This technique is open to lots of interpretation; this is just the way I do it. If anyone has any creative ideas or questions don’t be afraid to post!

I taught my niece’s NOLA Girl Scouts troop how to make these necklaces, and we all had a lot of fun. I usually have a few of these ready to give as little gifts. They also make charming headbands or belts!


custom handlebar grips

I recently got a twist shifter for my three speed. This is extremely awesome and I love shifting gears constantly now, but the vintage grip didn't quite match my newer one. Admittedly, it wasn't a huge difference, but it was bugging me and I knew I could do something fabulous.


First off, welcome to the new site! Since I’m no longer on WordPress’s server I don’t have to follow their rules, so expect the site to get really wild. Until then, please excuse any awkwardness!

Secondly, this Saturday I will be doing an art market at Fabric Planet, so if you’re around Venice come by!

I recently got a twist shifter for my three speed. This is extremely awesome and I love shifting gears constantly now, but the vintage grip didn’t quite match my newer one. Admittedly, it wasn’t a huge difference, but it was bugging me and I knew I could do something fabulous.

custom handlebar grips custom handlebar grips

My custom grip shifter is made out of cork paper that is painted and hot glued on. For the other side I also used craft foam. All of these supplies can be easily found at a craft store.

custom handlebar grips custom handlebar grips

So you want to make your own now, right? Continue reading →

Well, the obvious first step is to remove your old grips. The easiest way to do this is to put a few drops of denatured alcohol at the opening of the grip and try to get it to drip down toward the end of the handlebar, then pull.

DIY handlebar grip

I wrapped my handlebar in craft foam so that the grip would be the same thickness as the twist shifter, and it’s really nice having that extra padding. Choose a complimentary color foam because it will show on the edge of the grip. Cut the foam to the length you want for the grip, and wide enough to wrap around the bar once or twice, depending on your preference. Glue the foam to your handlebar by applying glue a few inches at a time until you’ve completely circled the bar. Place the edge of the foam on the bottom of the handlebar.

Make sure that the end of the foam is flush with the end of the bar, and keep it tight while you’re wrapping.

custom handlebar grips
Trace the circumference of the wrapped bar onto a piece of foam and cut it out. Glue this onto the end of the bar.

You could also use a cool bottle cap if you like, but I didn’t have any on hand that I was fond of. You could actually leave it at this, with just the foam grips. It should be pretty weather and UV proof, and you could decorate it with cut-outs from contrasting foam. But this isn’t that kind of tutorial, and we’ve got to keep going.

DIY  handlebar grip cork end DIY   handlebar grip

Next it’s time for the cork. Cut out a circle from the cork paper about 1″ larger in diameter than the foam end cap. When you’re cutting the foam use a sharp blade or scissors and be careful: the cork fibers can tear apart very easily. I recommend putting an awesome design on your endcap either with acrylic paint or even Sharpies. When you’re satisfied, glue the cork end onto the foam.

You will need to cut wedges out of the cork so that the edges will lay flat when they are glued down. Cut as close to the edge of the foam as possible without tearing or leaving any gaps! I cut 10 wedges, each about 1/4″ wide at the outside end. Glue the flaps down onto the foam, going a few at a time.

custom handlebar grips

So that the outer layer of cork is smooth, you will need to add a base layer of cork. It should go from the edges of the endcap flaps to the end of the foam. Tightly wrap this around the grip and glue down.

custom handlebar grips glue cork custom handlebar grips cork wrap

Now you’re ready for the final layer of cork. I painted mine a solid color before gluing it on. You may also be able to paint any designs on it at this point, depending on what your design is (if you want a spiral you will have to wait until the cork is glued onto the handlebar so that the stripes will line up correctly). Apply a line of hot glue to the wrong (unpainted) side of the cork and attach this to the underside of the handlebar. Wrap the rest of the cork around the grip, gluing along the way, and securely glue the end.

custom handlebar grips cork wrap custom handlebar grips cork

The final step is to decorate!

custom handlebar grips cork custom handlebar grips

This post is dedicated to Meridith with the potentially awesome bike, who I just met at a bar on the beach.