Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Scrappy Braided Fabric Bracelet: A Tutorial

I love these braided fabric bracelets I made for my partner in the recent Fabric Jewelry Swap on Craftster; several people expressed interest in them, so here comes a tutorial!

Quick summary:  you simply braid together 3 fabric strips, adding a charm along the way, then secure the ends and add an elastic loop and button for a closure.  Here's how I did it:

1.  Cut 3 different fabric strips 1 3/4" wide by at least 15" long.  There will be waste fabric at the beginning and end of the braided section, so you need to cut the strips longer than the size of your wrist.  A 7" bracelet fits my wrist comfortably (my actual wrist measurement is 6 3/4"), so this tutorial is for a 7" bracelet.

 2.  All the fabric edges will be left raw.  Start by folding the ends of the 3 fabric strips as shown, and stack them on top of each other so you can sew them together on the sewing machine.

3.  Run a line of stitching through all 3 folded fabrics at one end.  This is just to keep them together so you can start to braid.  Since this will eventually be waste fabric that you cut off, this part doesn't have to look pretty.

4.  To keep the fabrics from moving around while I braided, I pinned the sewn end to my ironing board.  You could also tape the sewn end to a table top.  Now, BRAID!!  To keep the braid smooth and even, I twisted each fabric strip as I braided it, as shown in this picture.

5.  Braid for 7", then put a couple of pins in the ends of the fabric strips to keep them from unravelling while you add a charm. 

 I used a charm from this kit that I had on hand; but you can add any kind of a charm here.  Attach it to an 8mm split ring (they were included in this kit), and slide it onto one of the fabric strips, right up to the spot where you stopped braiding.  Then keep braiding for at least 2 more inches.

6.  Unpin the braid from the ironing board (holding the loose end so it doesn't unravel) and take it to your sewing machine.  Sew the loose end securely (this part will be cut off, so it doesn't have to be pretty, but you do want your braid to be nice and tight here.)  Go ahead and cut off the unused fabric that wasn't braided (about 1/2" beyond the stitiches you just sewed).  From this cut-off fabric, cut two strips 3/4" by at least 3".  You will use these strips in the next step. (If you don't have enough fabric left, you can use any scrap fabric you want.)

7.  Now it's time to finish the ends.  Measure 1 1/2" from the charm; this will be the end where you sew on a button later.  Place a pin to mark the spot, and machine-sew back and forth across the braid right there.

Take one of the 3/4" wide strips you just cut, and wrap it around the braid two times.  It should be centered over the line of machine stitching.

Leave the end long, like in the picture, and sew all around the edges of the fabric strip several times to secure the braid.

This is how it will look.

Using sharp scissors, cut off the tail of the fabric strip; then cut off the excess braid beyond the strip you just sewed on.

8.  Now you will finish the other end.  Start by taping a hair elastic in the middle, and cut it in half. You will use one half for the closure (save the other half for your next bracelet!)

Measure 6 3/4" from the finished end, and mark the spot with a pin.  Machine-sew back and forth across the braid there to secure it.  You will finish this end the same as the other one, with the addition of the elastic loop.  Before wrapping the 3/4" fabric strip, you need to secure the loop with a few stitches by hand (my experience was that if you don't do this, the sewing machine foot will push the loop to the edge and it will be very off-center).

Now wrap the 3/4" strip around the braid and loop twice, leaving the end loose.

Sew around the edges several times to secure the braid.  Cut off the loose end of the strip.

Before cutting off the excess braid, pull down the elastic loop and hold it firmly so you don't accidentally cut it off!

This is how the finished end will look.

 8.  Sew on a button and you are done!


Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie I love these bracelets too. They are great for gifts. I like that charm bracelet kit, Where did you buy it?
Thanks, Sharalee

Unknown said...

You know that we have been waiting for this tute, leslie! They are sooo lovely and my stash is FULL of possibilities! Hey, is the trio of bracelets shown the ones i ordered thru your etsy shop? (im keeping them sealed until wrapping time!) have to say, its quite mice, too, to get them made from the source! Have a great day : )

Unknown said...

Arrrg, its quite nice and quite mice! Sorry bout that

Helen said...

ha ha ha Susan - love the 'mice'!!

Love the tute Leslie - such a great idea as always!

Elaine Akers said...

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I am going to make some of these after the holidays.

Mixed Kreations said...

These are awesome. I don't normally care for the braided bracelets. But I love these.

I am new on Craftster and just been looking around when I found your bracelets. Do you mind if I share a short post on my blog with one picture and a link back to the tutorial on your blog.

Thanks for sharing your tutorial.

Pinning and sharing!


Eva said...

Thanks for the nice tutorial Thanks

Anonymous said...

love the bracelet and thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

wow this is so cool! Thanks!

Leslie Andersen said...

You are very welcome! Enjoy!