Oct 212011
 

Hi all! Sorry I haven’t posted in the last couple of days.  I spent all day yesterday organizing my attic. Phew! My attic is a walk-up – picture a giant closet the size of the footprint of our house.  It’s nice to have all the easily accessible storage, but there’s the ever present danger of accumulating Too. Much. Stuff.

Anyhow, it’s done and looking as beautiful as an attic can get.  I’ve made lists of stuff to give away and lists of stuff to sell, listed a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, sent out emails, and now I finally have time to show you this project I picked up from Renaissance Leather this week.

felted-tote-complete-001

That’s my cat, Oliver, helping with the photography.

I’m not much of a knitter, but I think I’m going to love this felted tote bag.  The handles may look long in proportion to the bag, but they’re a perfect comfortable length for carrying on the shoulder.  I like the leather handles a lot more than if I had done knitted ones.

Here’s a rough outline of how to make your own felted tote:

Buy two 100 gram skeins of a wool yarn that specifies it’s good for felting.  I used Paton’s Classic Wool.  One skein was a solid, Royal Purple, and the other was a variegated that had the same purple in it, Palais. Make sure it is good for felting, some wool yarns are coated so they won’t felt.

Cast on 100 stitches onto a largish pair of circular needles (I think I used 11’s.)

Stitch around and around, changing colors of yarn whenever it pleases you.  (The pattern I had said to change the yarn every two rows, but that was way too much work.)

When your tote is not quite twice as long as you’d like it to be, throw in some decreases  for about six rows if you feel like it.  This will give your bag a tapered bottom.  My bag measured 27″ long x 14″ wide before felting, and felted down to 14″ long x 11.5″ wide.

The pattern I had said  once done with the decreases to cut the yarn to a 12″ length and use a tapestry needle to thread it through all the remaining stitches on the needles, sliding them off and using the yarn to pull the stitches into tight gathers.  This is what it will look like. I wasn’t sure I cared for the look, but did like not having to cast off!

felted-bag-before

Because I couldn’t stand the thought of those extra bits of yarn hanging around, I made them into a pocket.

felted-tote-bag-pocket-before

(See what I mean about not being much of a knitter?)

All the felting directions I’ve ever read said you need a top loading washing machine to do felting.  I don’t have access to a top load machine, so I went looking online for directions how to felt by hand.  Everything I saw, again, looked like WAY too much work.  So I threw my bag and pocket into a lingerie bag and put in a front load machine.  It worked just fine. I threw it in for two cycles and got a nice, thick felt.

Here’s the pocket:

felted-tote-bag-pocket-after

After taking the bag out of the wash, I decided I hated that rounded gathered bottom.  Thankfully, the gathering yarn pulled right out, even after felting.  Here’s the bag after I flattened out the bottom.felted-tote-bag-after-felting-removing-stitching

Here’s a fun trick for giving any bag a square bottom.  First stitch straight across the bottom of your bag.  Now meet the bottom seam to one side of your bag, forming a corner.

felted-tote-bag-mark-corners

Mark a line perpendicular to the bottom seam.  The length of this line will be how wide you bag bottom will be.  Repeat on the other side and stitch on these lines.

felted-tote-bag-make-square-bottom

Now your bag has a square bottom!

The next step is optional, but I think it gives the bag a nice finish.  Find a book or other large rectangular object the same size as your bag.  If need be, protect it from moisture by putting it in plastic bags.  Dampen your tote bag, then insert the blocking form (the book.)  Pull, pat, tug and shape your tote to just the size and shape you want.  You’ll find the damp felt is quite malleable.  Now let it dry completely on the form.

felted-tote-bag-blocking

(This photo was taken before I decided to throw the bag into the wash for a second time, btw.)

I really, really like how the leather handles add a finishing touch, much better than knitted handles, I think.

Now if I could just find that dang pocket, I’ll use my one last piece of yarn to sew it to the inside of the bag.   Probably by the time I find the pocket I’ll have lost the piece of yarn, lol.

Here’s another look at the completed bag.

felted-tote-complete-001

Happy crafting and creating!

 

 

 

Oct 192011
 

Today’s Woyww finds me working on this trenchcoat:  (It’s Simplicity 4084, which is now out of print. If you’re interested in it there are a few for sale in various places online.)  simplicity-4084

I’ve had the pattern in my stash for ages and only remembered it when I saw some rainwear fabric on sale.  I’ve never owned a trenchcoat, never felt the need for one, but decided to go for it for some reason. (Maybe cuz I’m always a sucker for a challenge?)

2011-10-19-bound-buttonholes-woyww

I’m making view A, the one on the far right, it’s double breasted with piped trim.  You know what the hardest thing was to find for this coat?  The belt buckle!  There isn’t much to choose from in the fabric stores, and what is there is boring.

So today I stopped in at my local Salvation Army and got a way ugly belt attached to this very cool buckle (center of above photo)… for 99¢.  Oh, yeah.  While I was there I also got two nice suit jackets (one is wool and both are lovely shades of purple) for $3.50 and $3.  Woot!

Anyhow, I’ve cut out all the pattern pieces (there are 28!), interfaced and marked them, and made the piping and a carrier strip.  On Pattern Review someone who made this pattern mentioned that they’d done bound buttonholes in theirs.  I’ve never done bound buttonholes so thought it would be a nice touch as well as a challenge.

I whipped out my copy of Vogue Sewing, found the section on bound buttonholes and commenced.

Now, for your amusement, I will show you my attempts at making bound buttonholes.

First try:

2011-10-19-bound-buttonholes-1st-try

Ummmmmm, NO.

Second try:

2011-10-19-bound-buttonholes-2nd-try

A tad better, still wonky.

Third try:

2011-10-19-bound-buttonholes-3rd-try

Almost there!  Just have to make sure to pull that little corner all the way to the wrong side.  (That little bit you see to the right.)

Do I dare make my fourth on the actual coat?  Yikes.  Since I rarely wear coats buttoned, these have to be good.  Oh, the pressure…

The moral of the story, make sure you practice new things on scrap fabric.  Imagine if I’d done that first nasty buttonhole on my nice coat.  ::::::shudder::::::

Even though they have the best and clearest directions I’ve found, it wouldn’t be ethical to reprint Vogue’s directions here.  If you own the book or are thinking about buying this excellent sewing reference, you’ll find the directions on pages 266-270, (I used the one-piece folded method.)

However, this site gives excellent step-by-steps for making bound buttonholes.  It’s a different method than I used, but I think it might be easier.  Bound buttonholes are a beautiful detail and they’re not so bad, you just have to pay close attention to each step and take your time. (That third example was only accomplished after turning off my audio book and following each direction to the letter.)

Happy creating/sewing/playing and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

(What is WOYWW?  Go here to play along.  Careful now, you might get addicted.)

Oct 172011
 

Much to my surprise, this blog’s most popular post ever is How to Make Zipper Flowers.  Who’da thunk it?

teal and gold zipper flower

So many creative people have inspired and taught me over the years through their books, magazine articles, blogs and videos that it always thrills me to hear I’ve been a source of inspiration to some one else.

Recently I received a thank you note from a reader who was inspired by the zipper flower tutorial and made this biker babe wedding bouquet.

Isn’t it the coolest?

Wedding Bouquet - Black Leather and Lace for the Biker Babe

Thanks for sharing, Maggie, and happy creating everyone!

Oct 122011
 

Welcome to another What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday.  Hosted by the inimitable Julia, this is where many of us hang out on Wednesdays, checking out what other crafty and creative people are up to.

2011-10-12-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesday-black-sweater-jacket

Today’s workdesk finds me in the midst of making a black cardgan/jacket/sweater.  I’m using this fabric from Fabric.com.  You can’t really see in the photo, but it has a nice, nubbly texture (which translates into an utter mess of black bits on the floor once you cut it, lol.)

Boucle Sweater Knit Novelty Stripe Black

I’m lining it with a beautiful black brocade. I’ll show more details when it’s closer to being done.  This is the pattern I’m using:

mccalls-5668-jacket

The directions are by Nancy Zieman, and they’re pretty good with lots of helpful tips, however for some reason I was thinking this jacket was fully lined.  Since the sweater fabric frays so much, it really needs to be fully lined.

That’s why you see this book on the table:

Sandra Betzina’s Power Sewing is awesome for getting that extra bit of finished, professional look in your garments.  I’m following her directions for adding in a back pleat to the lining and bagging the lining.  I tried reading through the bagging directions, visualizing each step, but got utterly confused.  So, I think I’m just going to follow each step carefully and trust that it will work out.

If I mess up?  Well, that’s what seam rippers are for, right? ::::::grin::::::

Happy woyww and happy creating!

 

Oct 112011
 

Good morning to you!  I finished this skirt a while back but have just gotten around to taking photos.  You can get the free pattern here.

Cabriolet skirt-dress

Are you sick of seeing this raspberry knit fabric yet?  I have two more things to show you out of it, then I promise it’s all gone.  😉 raspberry-knit-wrap-skirt

Pattern Description: This skirt-dress is designed for airy, lightweight fabrics like crinkled gauze, handkerchief linen, voile, crepe, rayon or even a drapey t-shirting.

Wrap-over, gathered, tiered convertible skirt-dress has a deep band with long self ties, and curved front panels. Wear this versatile summer essential as a skirt with a simple tank or T-shirt for a fabulous casual outfit, or try it as a dress for a glamorous beach or pool-side cover-up.

Pattern Sizing: Includes sizes 6-26. I made a 10.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except that since I used a knit with a lot of crosswise stretch, I didn’t get quite the same ruffled gather look.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Everything was quite easy except for where to leave an opening for the left hand tie to go through. In step 1b of the directions it is unclear that you leave the opening between the back and right hand waistband panels.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how comfy and easy this skirt is to wear.

Fabric Used: I used a knit jersey, which created some problems due to a great deal of crosswise stretch.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Because of all the crosswise stretch in my fabric, the skirt turned out way too big in the waist. I folded the very wide waistband in half, stitched it down and added wide elastic. (Since you need to leave an opening for the tie to thread through, this elastic will be in two pieces.) I also added hooks and eyes at both side seam, just to keep everything in place.

The ties were ridiculously long, I shortened each by 10″.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might sew this again, next time in a woven. I’m picturing a dainty floral in lightweight gauze, that would make a really pretty spring skirt..

Conclusion: I can guarantee you won’t ever catch me wearing this as a dress, it would be way too short. As a skirt though it’s a very nice, simple pattern if you don’t mind doing a fair amount of gathering.

Oct 072011
 

I did some major organizing in my craft room this week.  While I was at it I finally took care of a project I’ve been wanting to do for some time: organize my knitting needles and crochet hooks in rolls.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-10-slots-sewn

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-14-all-tied-up-and-complete

You can make these rolls for just about any kind of tool you’ve got.  I’ll show you how I figured out the dimensions so you can make your own.

You will need two pieces of fabric, one for the lining and one for the main fabric.  You also need a yard of ribbon for ties.

(Click on any of the photos to enlarge.  Click on the square with an arrow to make them even bigger.)

First, you need to lay out your tools and take some measurements.  Here are my crochet hooks:

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-1-measure

The tallest hook is 6” and if I allow ½” for each hook, plus some extra room, I’ll need my roll to be about 15” wide. I’m also going to add 2” at the top to allow for a flap that will fold down and prevent my hooks from falling out while it’s rolled up.

Therefore the lining piece will need to finish at 15”x 8”, so add ½” for seam allowances and cut a piece of fabric at 15.5” x 8.5”.

The main fabric piece will include the pocket for all the hooks to slip into; 3” seems to be just about right for this pocket.  So I’ll cut a piece of fabric the same width of my lining (15.5”,) but 3” deeper (8.5” + 3”= 11.5”.)

Hopefully this diagram will clear up the math:

crochet-hook-roll-dimensions_0

Here are my two pieces all cut.  (Please ignore the fact that the blue fabric is pieced together.  I wanted to use it but didn’t have a large enough scrap.)

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-2-cut-pieces

You’ll notice that if you fold up the 3” pocket on your main fabric piece, it should be the exact same size as the lining piece.  (Blurry, I know. Sorry!)

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-3-fold-back-pocket

Narrow hem one long edge of your main fabric piece.  This will be the top edge of your pocket.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-4-hem-pocket

Fold up the pocket on your main fabric so right sides are together.  Layer your lining on top of this, right sides together.  Center an 18” piece of ribbon between the lining and main fabric on one of the short sides.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-5-sew-3-sides

Stitch with a ¼” seam around three sides: the two short sides and the one long side without the fold. 

Here it is with corners clipped and stitched around only three sides, not stitched on the side with the fold.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-6-3-sides-sewn

Turn right side out.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-7-turned-right-side-out

Now flip the pocket right side out.  It will automatically be on the side with the lining. Press.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-8-flip-pocket-around

Now use a ruler and marking pencil to mark off the slots in your pocket.  Stitch on these lines, making sure to backstitch securely, especially at the top of each pocket.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-9-mark-slots

Go ahead and put in your hooks…

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-10-slots-sewn

…and fold down the 2” protective flap.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-11-flap-folded-down

Starting at the end without the ribbon, roll it up.
On the outside of the roll use a pin to mark where the other piece of ribbon should go.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-12-roll-up-to-mark-for-2nd-ribbon

Sew another 18” piece of ribbon at the mark.  I like to fold under the end of the ribbon and stitch in a nice, neat square.

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-13-sew-on-2nd-ribbon

Now your roll is ready to tie up!

crochet-hook-roll-tutorial-14-all-tied-up-and-complete

Here’s one I made for my knitting needles.  Don’t you just love that fabric?  In its former life it was a trick-or-treating bag for my kids.  knitting-needle-roll-tied

knitting-needle-roll-open

Measurements for the knitting needle roll:

  • Lining – 28”x 18”
  • Main fabric – 28” x 26”
  • Pocket – 7” deep
  • Protective flap – 4”

Notice that I left some of the pocket slots wide enough to accommodate circular needles.

Happy sewing, creating and organizing!

Oct 052011
 

Last week I told you all about the $10 bag of goodies I got from my local scrapbooking store which precipitated a major reorganization of my sewing & crafting room.

Three trips to Ikea later, I’m all done, and quite pleased with the results.

This gives you an idea of the before: 2011-10-05-before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the after:  (click to enlarge, click the square with an arrow to further enlarge)2011-10-05-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesday

What do you think?

The bird house fabric is for a new ironing board cover, the old one is is getting kinda yucky.

The pattern is McCalls 6408 to be made out of the purple fabric, which is Fabric.com’s Hatchi Slub Sweater Knit.

 

Still debating whether or not to add the belt; definitely going to do the asymetrical hem, though.

The white boxes are the Ikea Kassett DVD boxes.  At two for $5 how can you go wrong?  They’re just cardboard, but the metal label plates, edges and corners on the lids make them look quite finished.  I ended up getting eight total, but am using just the lids of three as trays for smaller items.  I love this!  Just pull out the tray with what I need and get busy.

The four clear containers are from Ikea’s Godmorgon line (it actually comes with five, but one is in the cabinet with paint brushes.)  They can be found in the bathroom accessories department, but I thought they were perfect here.  I even used the box the Godmorgon set came in, stuck on a spare label plate from a box I wasn’t using and filed all my 4” x 6” paper pads in it.  Now I can actually find them and use them.  Woot!

I’m also thrilled to finally have my completed cards organized in one of the boxes. The card files are manila folders that I cut down to fit.

2011-10-05-woyww-cards

Happy sewing, organizing or whatever you’re doing this What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!  (What is WOYWW?  Go here to find out, it always a fun time. )

Oct 032011
 

Last week I mentioned that I needed to do a total reorganization of some areas of my crafting/sewing room.  It’s been going well.  I’ve rediscovered lots of goodies I’d forgotten about and have given away or tossed many items that I’ll never use.  I’ll share pictures of the final results soon.

In the meantime I thought you might like this tip that I’ve finally implemented for my interfacing drawer.  I have to admit, it was a disgrace.

Here’s the tip:

Use a section of the direction sheet to make a pocket for each type of interfacing and fusible product on hand.

organize-interfacing

I took approximately 18″ sections, folded them in half and stitched along both sides.  Make sure to use a long stitch length so you don’t perforate the paper too much.  Also, don’t backstitch to secure the ends, but leave long thread tails and tie each pair into a knot.

organize-interfacing-2

Now not only do you have the directions on hand for each product, but you’ll know exactly what each one is.  This is also great for keeping scraps neatly corralled.

I had several interfacings without direction sheets, so I made pockets from scrap fabric.  Remember that t-shirt quilt I’ve been working on?  I used one of the backs that was going to be thrown away to make three pockets.  These I labeled with a sharpie with my best guess as to the product. Next time I shop for interfacings, I’ll be sure to keep a section of the directions.

organize-interfacing-3

I do loved getting organized!

Happy creating and organizing.

Oct 012011
 

In the past week I’ve shown you how to make Origami Folded Purses and Beaded Handles for said purses.

Now let’s look at, in no particular order, some finishing details to make your bags truly special.

Consider making the two sides of the bag slightly different

A few years back the oriental purse was the bag I carried with me.  One thing that was frustrating was the constant flipping back and forth to find the side with what I needed in it.

So, when I made the floral purse, I put a pink button on one side…

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-floral-bag_0

…and a green one on the other side.  Now you’ll know that your wallet is on the pink side, cell phone is on the green, or whatever.

 folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-floral-bag-green-button

The difference on the purple purse is a bit subtler; one side has two leaves…

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-fairy-button-2-leaves

…and the other side has only one leaf.

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-fairy-button-1-leaf

This leads me to the next point:

You can use embellishments other than just buttons

The purple silk flowers and leaves are actually there to solve the problem of the buttons not being able to entirely cover the back of the magnetic clasp.  I’m so happy I needed to solve that problem, though, because I think they add SO much to the purse.

You could add a ribbon bow under your buttons, clusters of ribbon or silk flowers, beading… the possibilities are endless.

If you don’t like how it comes out, you can change it

This floral bag was made for a class sample, and it was beyond the scope of the class to add beaded handles.  I really struggled to find something quick and easy that I liked for a handle for this bag

Late one night before the class I settled on this braided ribbon.  I never was satisfied with it, and it was a relief to take it off and add the beads.

 folded-purses-floral-before

 I carried this black purse with me just like this, and was happy with it…

folded-purses-oriental-before

…but I’m even happier with it now.  🙂

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-oriental

How about jazzing up the beads with a twisted cording?

Someone was kind enough to give me this purple cording to use on this bag, so I really wanted to incorporate it with the beads.  When I saw these twisty glass leaves, I knew they’d be perfect.

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-glass-leaves-handle_0

If you want to twine cording around your beaded handle:

  • Twist it just the way you want, then tie it to the ends of the clasps.
  • To keep it from untwisting, tack the ends of the cording to the inside of the side seams.  (Simple enough, eh?)

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-18-optional-cord

And finally, my favorite trick of all time:

Use alcohol inks to change the colors of your hardware

The eyelets for this purse really needed to be something other than silver in order to go with the beads and the gold bits in the fabric print, but I could only find them in silver.

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-gold-grommet

Alcohol inks to the rescue!  They are awesome, because you can use them to permanently color any non-porous surface.  This means glass, glazed ceramics, metals, plastic… are you starting to get ideas?  Oh, they are fun!

Dabbing on alcohol inks

So, to do my eyelets, first I dripped some Butterscotch alcohol ink all over them and blotted off the excess.  This colored the inner sections where I couldn’t reach with my dabber.

Then I applied one dot of Gold Metallic Mixative to a small piece of felt (make sure to shake up the mixatives well before using) and dabbed this on my eyelets.  Voila, gold eyelets!

I could have made them any color the alcohol inks come in, and even blended colors.  You could try mixing browns and oranges to get a brassy look, or even just coloring them black would look cool.

Painting on alcohol inks

Aren’t these buttons gorgeous?  I thought so; I picked them out to replace the solid black buttons on the oriental purse. (They oughtta be amazing, they were $8 for the pair!  Thankfully, I had a 50% off coupon with me.)

folded-purse-buttons-before

However, I thought they could use a bit of pink in them to tie them in with the handles and the pink in the fabric print.  How to do it?

No problem, once more it’s alcohol inks!

To paint with alcohol inks you will need:

folded-purse-buttons-color-with-alcohol-ink

First, drip several drops of each alcohol ink color you want to use onto your palette or plate.  Now, leave them alone and let them dry.  It should only take a few seconds.  And it will look like an utter mess.  Yup, I know this sounds weird, but it works.

While you’re waiting, fill the water brush with alcohol blending solution and label it as such.   I mean it!  If you confuse this with water, you will be sorry.

Now take your brush and gently squeeze it, the solution should start to flow from the brush tip.  Lightly rub this into one of the colors of dried alcohol ink.  It picks up the color onto the brush and now you can paint with that color on your object.

I chose to paint the little leaves on my buttons with Cranberry alcohol ink.  Wonderful!

folded-purse-buttons-after

When your brush runs out of color, just go back to the palette to pick up some more.  If you want to change colors, just scribble the brush onto a Non Stick Craft Sheet until the liquid runs clear.

You can use the blending solution to clean off the craft sheet, fingers and most anything else when you’re all done.  Also, if you’re not happy with what you’ve done, just wipe it with blending solution to remove all color and start over.

Now my buttons go perfectly with my bag.

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-close-up-oriental

By the way, it’s a good idea to first test alcohol inks and the blending solution in an inconspicuous spot to make sure they won’t damage any existing color.  Usually they won’t, but it smart to test first!

So there you have it, some fun details to add to your purses.  I hope you’ll give this project a try.  If you do, I’d love to see pics of your work.  🙂

Happy creating!

Sep 292011
 

Earlier this week I showed you how to make Origami Folded Purses.  Today’s tutorial is for how to add beaded handles.  Of course, you could add these handles to just about any bag; think of it as jewelry for your purse!

Here are three bags that I’ve completed.  You’ll notice that the black bag with oriental fabric has gotten a makeover with new buttons and a fancy new handle.  I’m loving it.

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-floral-bag_0 folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-purple-bag_0

folded-bags-with-beaded-handles-oriental

(Btw, you can click on any of the photos to enlarge, click  on the square with an arrow to make them even bigger.)

What you will need to make these handles:

  • A purse to put them on (duh!)
  • Metal grommets (I used the Dritz large grommet kit.  It comes with the tool you will need to set them.)
  • Two clasps to go through the eyelets.  (On the floral and purple bags I used badge clips, they look like large lobster claw clasps with a swivel loop.  On the black oriental bag I used metal clasps by Blue Moon Beads.)
  • Bead stringing wire (I used Beadalon nylon coated stainless steel in size 5.)
  • Two crimp tubes (Look at the packaging and choose the size that corresponds with your wire.)
  • Beads of your choice (Shopping for these is the fun part!)

The first thing to do is make  small holes in the side seams of the purse for the eyelets to go through.  This is why we used a very small stitch length when we made the purse.  Here I am using a Cropodile to punch holes, but you just carefully make a 1/4″ hole with scissors.  Always err on the side of making it too small!

Make these holes about 1/2″ down from the top of the seams.  folded-purse-handle-tutorial-1-punch-hole

Here are what the grommets look like.  Above them is the tool used to set them with a hammer.  Make sure when you get your package that it includes the tool and isn’t a refill kit.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-2-grommets

Notice that one side of the grommet has a larger opening and shorter prongs.  The other one has a smaller opening and taller prongs.  This taller one goes on the outside of your purse.

The first thing you need to do is insert the shorter grommet (with the larger hole) into one of the holes you just cut in your purse, from the inside of the purse.  If the hole is too small, carefully cut off tiny bits of fabric and batting until the prongs are just visible inside the hole.  Now you can insert the taller grommet piece into the shorter one from the outside of the purse.

All you have to do to finish your eyelet now is give it a few whacks with a hammer.  Place your bag with the outside grommet down on a firm surface.  Fit the setting tool to the inside part of the grommet and give it several whacks with the hammer.  You don’t have to pound with all your might, you could distort the grommet.  Just hammer firmly until the prongs of the taller grommet round over.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-3-hammering

If you feel unsure about the process, try a practice grommet on a scrap of fabric.  It really is very simple.

Here’s a finished grommet.  Now repeat for the other side of the purse.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-4-completed-grommet

Now you can attach your clasps to the grommets.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-5-attach-clasp

Now it’s time to arrange your beads in the order you like.  My theory for the length of these purse handles is: the chunkier the beads, the shorter the handle should be, the smaller the beads, the longer the handles can be.  You do whatever floats your particular boat, but it is a good idea to have them all arranged in advance so you have an idea of the length and design.

These bead design boards are tremendously helpful, but feel free to just line a shoebox or similar lid with a towel.  That will work, too.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-6-arrange-beads

Once you have your beads all arranged to your liking and have the length you want, go ahead and cut a piece of bead stringing wire twice that length plus 12″ for insurance.  It’s always better to have to cut off some excess.  It stinks to run short.  Trust me, I know.

Now run this wire through one of the clasps and meet the ends together.

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You will be treating the two wires as one and stringing your beads onto both.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-8-string-beads

I don’t know about you, but I’m a klutz.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been stringing away, fumbled with something and had the entire string of beads dump on the floor.  That’s why hemostats are my best friend.  You can use them to clamp onto the wires and keep your work safe.  I usually move them after every 4 inches or so.

Don’t have hemostats?

Make friends with someone in the medical field quick!

There’s always an abundance for free because they dispose of them frequently.

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Continue stringing merrily along until you reach the end of your design and the handle is the length you want.

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Now it’s time to attach the wire ends to the other clasp.  We will do the using crimp tubes.

String one crimp tube onto each wire.

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I prefer to use crimp tubes rather than crimp beads because you can easily flatten the tubes with pliers.  You need a special crimping tool for crimp beads and sometimes they come out wonky.  (Perhaps it’s my lack of skill, but why not go with what’s easier? )

Anyhow, now you need to thread the wire ends through the other purse clasp…folded-purse-handle-tutorial-12-through-other-clasp

…and then back through the crimp tubes.  Pull on the wire ends until the tubes and the bead strand are snug against the clasp.  Don’t make this overly tight or your bead strand will be stiff.  An 1/8″ of slack in the wire is fine.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-13-back-through-crimps

Now it’s time to use a pair of needle nose pliers to flatten the tubes.

Here’s something important to notice.  Can you see in the above picture how the wires cross over themselves inside the tubes?  We don’t want them to be crossed when we flatten the tubes, we want the wires to be parallel to each other.  This can be done by grabbing the wire end and pulling it off to one side right before you flatten the tube.

Use your pliers to grasp one of the tubes and squish it flat.  Give the pliers an extra squeeze to make sure it’s nice and tight.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-14-flatten-one-crimp

Notice how the wires are parallel, not crossed inside the tube.  If they cross they can easily slip over each other, making your tube too loose and your purse handle might let go.

Now tug on the bead strand.  It should not give at all.  If it does, pull off the flattened tube and try again.

Go ahead and flatten the second crimp tube.

folded-purse-handle-tutorial-15-flatten-other-crimp

Now there’s just one last step before your handle is done.

Go ahead and fish these wires back up through the bead strand as far as you can.  The farther you can do it, the more secure your handle will be should the crimps ever let go.  (Notice, though, that I designed this with TWO crimps, for extra insurance.)

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Use wire cutters to trim off the wire ends close to the last beads they came out of.

Your beaded handle is done!  Isn’t is beautiful?

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Next time I’ll share with you some finishing details, including adding twisted cord to your handle, altering the colors of your hardware to match and some fun things to do with the buttons.

Happy creating!