How to Make Fabric Beads

How to Make Fabric Beads

Making fabric beads is great fun. It requires some dexterity and a little patience to begin with, but as soon as you get the hang of rolling fabric triangles round a tooth pick, the sky's the limit. You can produce a considerable quantity of fabric beads in an amazingly short space of time. Moreover, making fabric beads is an ideal pastime on hot summer days when many other textile techniques become unmanageable due to sweaty hands and squeaking needles.

We became fabric bead addicts very quickly and it is to be expected that the number of projects at Quilt around the World using fabric beads will increase exponentially.

Difficulty

Intermediate (requires some dexterity, otherwise rather simple)

Materials needed

  • fabric that doesn't fray easily: We have found that Batiks and other closely woven fabrics work best. It is essential that both fabrics are cotton. Otherwise the sandwich may well crinkle or stick to the iron.
  • double sided lightweight fusible interfacing
  • fabric glue

Other tools and notions

  • rotary cutter, cutting mat, ruler
  • iron, ironing board
  • baking parchment or Teflon sheet
  • tooth picks
  • scissors

Technique

  • Layer two pieces of fabric with a sheet of double sided fusible interfacing in between. Only one fabric will show when the bead is finished, so we recommend that you choose a less precious piece of fabric for the backing. 
  • Iron the fabric-interface-fabric combination to fuse together permanently. Use the baking parchment or Teflon sheet to prevent any residue from the interfacing sticking either to your iron or ironing board.
  • Using a rotary cutter, cut the fabric into a rectangle according to the instructions.
  • From the rectangle, cut strips and then triangles. For different shapes and sizes, please refer to Fabric Beads: Shapes and Sizes (see link below).
  • Hold a tooth pick with both hands and lay it along the base of the fabric triangle (the shortest side) as shown in the picture below:

Fabric Beads

  • Ease the fabric around the tooth pick and roll it a little to and fro to prepare the fabric for the rolling process. Hold the fabric firmly against the toothpick and start to roll the fabric around it. The firmer you roll the fabric around the toothpick, the neater your finished fabric bead will be.

Fabric Beads

  • As soon as the fabric forms 2 layers around the toothpick, take the toothpick in one hand without letting the fabric triangle unroll or slip away.

Fabric Beads

  • Start turning the toothpick slowly while carefully guiding and rolling the fabric into a firm bead.

Fabric Beads

  • When approximately 1.5" (ca. 3.8 cm) of fabric remains, apply a small drop of fabric glue as shown in the next picture:

Fabric Beads

  • As you can see in the pictures, we were working on a cutting mat. The glue we use for fabric beads only sticks to fabric and forms fibre-like structures that can easily be rubbed off any other surface. Check the effects our fabric glue has on other surfaces than fabric and decide then whether you need to protect the surface you work on.
  • Using a second tooth pick, spread the glue carefully over the remaining fabric. It is important that there is glue at the very point of the triangle. But be careful! Too much glue will be visible when the bead is completely rolled up.

Fabric Beads

  • Now finish the bead by rolling up the rest of the fabric. To do this, we handled the tooth pick like we would a rolling pin - exerting a little downward pressure while rolling a few times to and fro to firmly secure the tip of the triangle.

Fabric Beads   Fabric Beads

  • The fabric glue we used dries very quickly, so we can slip off our beads as soon as the rolling is finished. Check whether the tip of the fabric triangle holds fast before removing the bead.
  • Your fabric bead is now completed.

One asymmetrical fabric bead...

Fabric Beads

... more asymmetrical fabric beads...

Fabric Beads

...accompanied by some symmetrical fabric beads! wink

Fabric Beads

Author: 
Jutta Hufnagel