Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bracelet not fit? Here's an easy fix.

I have a bracelet pattern that seems to shorten each time I do it no matter which beads I use, and that made me find a new method to ensure flexibility.

First the pattern - then the closure. The pattern is a stringing pattern that looks more complex than it is. The beads used are top drilled drops, pearls, or leaves, no larger than 3mm to 4mm. Top drilled means the hole runs left to right across the top narrow end of the bead. See drawing for clarity.

Other beads added to the bracelet can be crystals, gemstones, lampwork, or just about anything you choose, but one should be size 5mm to 7mm, plus other smaller beads or spacers.
I use Power Pro and a size 10 needle for this project, as you will be going back and forth through the all beads, except the drops, (that's why you can use top drilled pearls for this) multiple times.

Start by putting a beadstopper on the line, leaving enough to weave the tail back in. Now string a pattern of beads as follows in this example, but be creative and try other patterns as well:

1-4mm, *1-Bali bead, 1-6mm, 3 drops, 1-6mm, 1-Bali bead, 1-4mm

Repeat from * until length is slightly larger than your wrist.

At this end add a closed jump ring or a spring ring.

Now go back through the beads and when you get to the section where the drops are, add three more drops. When you get back to the (start) tail, add another closed jump ring or spring ring.

Go back and forth two or three more times. Each time you go back through the beads, you are adding three to the cluster of drops until you have 12 to 15 per cluster. Weave in tails with a few half-hitch knots, and clip excess thread.

My dilemma has been that no matter how long my original group is, as I add beads in the drops section, the bracelet seems to shorten, and inevitably becomes too short for the clasp I intended to use.
Now for the solution.
Lobster clasp and 1" of chain, attached to opposite ends on the jump or spring rings. And now my length is flexible. The other advantage to this is now I can make bracelets for potential customers without knowing wrist sizes. On the free end of the chain, I add a dangle for weight which makes the bracelet easier to put on single-handed.

Tip of the Day: By draping the chain end of the bracelet over my wrist away from me and coming up underneath with the lobster clasp, the weight on the chain holds it in place until I can secure the clasp in the chain. Works the first time 99% of the time.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A new idea for an old pattern - Flower to Butterfly

Barb Grainger's Book on Dimensional Flowers, Leaves, and Vines is a classic for generating new ideas and creating new designs.

Her netted flower became a butterfly for me. The patterns is worked by netting five points and joining them in a circle. I had done that and just couldn't find anything I liked to go with that purple bead to complete the flower, so it sat in my UFO's (un-finished-objects) until I started playing with it.

It had been gathered on the inside edge (straight edge) with a 10mm bead in the center, but I wasn't all that pleased about the look. So I took the gathering thread out and opened it to it's fullest.

The drawing may help you visualize the process as I describe the steps.

Now I had a star shaped item with a hole in the center. I re-gathered it so that the opening was about the size of a half-dollar (remember them?) By folding the top center point down, I had the butterfly shape, Voila! So I tacked the center point in place and added the body beads, the spots on the wings and plan to string it from the top wing points for a necklace.

I hope this inspires you to look for new ideas in old classics.

Tip for today: Project storage seems to be a problem for many beaders. I've seen a number of stackable items that can be used for this. My friend Sigrid gave me a flat plastic box that is 9 x 11-1/2 x 3/4 deep, used by scrap bookers and will hold printed instructions, a bead mat, many tubes of beads, needles, bobbins, triangle scoop and scissors. They come in a variety of colors and stack nicely. The only drawback I've seen is that you can't leave loose beads on the mat as they escape between the cracks where the box closes. Look in departments other than beading for ideas. Happy beading.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Notes for Posterity (or at least Forever)

How many projects have you seen where the color combination just reaches out and grabs you, yet the person can't remember the beads they used? And even with all the choices at the bead stores, it's impossible to remember and choose the same colors.

One thing I discovered when I began teaching certain patterns is that many (if not most) beaders want to create the project in the same colors you used. So I began the practice of noting which colors (by manufacturer's number) I used in the project. I keep these in a small notebook that I later transfer to a spreadsheet on the computer.

Then when I took the Diane Fitzgerald class on Gingko leaves, I found it imperative to note the colors and the sequence of colors, especially when I wanted to make a pendant and a pair of matching earrings.

This was just one use I found for making notes on my projects. I've also found that when I buy unique or unusual beads that I need to note where they came from and how much I paid for resale purposes. Of course this doesn't apply to the standard Delicas or seed beads. In my computer spreadsheet, I can also post a photo of the beads.

Tip for today: Don't forget to stretch that nylon thread before beading, other wise it can stretch and make your work sag.