Thursday, October 23, 2014

Alternative Straps for Seed Beadwork

AJE is thrilled to have the multi-talented Lindsay Starr guest blogging today. You will definitely want to click the links at the end to see more of her work.  ~ Jen

Confession of a lazy beader – I do not enjoy making beaded ropes. While I do make and use them in my work occasionally, I am more prone to making a necklace strap in some other way. Anything that decreases the amount of time spent on the “boring” part of the necklace, makes me happy! In this post, I will show you several ways to attach straps to seed beadwork in order to shorten the creation time of a piece. If you sell your work, this saves your customer money in the end, as you don't have to charge for all the time that goes into making a beaded strap. With all of these methods, you will need to think ahead about which type of strap you would like to use, and make sure you are leaving an area in the beadwork as your attachment point(s). You will see what I mean as you look at these pictures.


One of the methods I use most often is simply stringing a strap with your regular old flexible beading wire and crimp tubes. Not only is it a great way to incorporate the beads used in the centerpiece, but I also like to delve into my extensive hoard of beads for larger accents that coordinate with the beadwork. There are three main ways that I attach beading wire to my pieces, examples of which are pictured below.

The first method is used when you do not have beads available to pass the wire through. You will need to have loops of embellishment that have been reinforced with thread – you do not want these loops to sag over time. String a crimp tube on your wire, then string an odd number of matching seed beads on the wire. Pass this section of wire around the loop of beadwork, just as if you were attaching it to a clasp, then pass back through the crimp bead and crimp! Continue stringing and attach a clasp as normal.

The second and third methods require that you used beads 8/0 or larger in the areas you would like to attach the clasp. Below, you can see that the entire top section of this centerpiece was stitched with fairly large beads. Using larger beads means that there is plenty of room left in the bead holes to pass a wire through.

For this necklace I was able to pass my wire all the way across the top of the beadwork, just as if I was stringing a pendant. Then I strung the rest of the beads for the necklace, and crimped the back to a clasp.

This picture shows two variations on a theme – using double attachment points. I use this method the most often – it's a bit of a hybrid between the first two. You will need to have an attachment area with one or more larger beads that you will pass the wire through, but after you pass through this area, you will string a small section of seed beads before you crimp. The seed bead section allows the piece to hang properly without leaving exposed wire. The double attachment points work best on wider centerpieces, as they hang straight down from the neck, and evenly distribute the weight of the piece to minimize distortion.

Ribbon (or Cord, or any thick stringing material):

I also use quite a bit of sari silk ribbon in my work. The colors are vibrant and I can easily find pieces that coordinate and enhance the beads I use in my work. Plus, unlike some commercially available cords, I feel that the quality of the ribbon meshes with the quality of my work. Sometimes attaching it is tricky though, so I use these methods.

With a smaller pendant, as in the above picture, you can stitch a beaded tube to the back side of the piece. Personally, I like the fit to be tight on the ribbon, so the piece doesn't travel. If you make the fit looser you can easily slip the pendant off the ribbon and place it on any other necklace, cord or chain. I like to do this with gifts or pendants I'm intending to sell, because you never know if a person will have a favorite chain or something else that they would like to wear your piece on. Versatility is the best thing about this method.

The next two pictures show minor variations in tying a ribbon or cord to the piece.

In this picture, you can see that I made a wire link that the pendant and accent beads were strung on, and then tied the ribbon (regular overhand knot, trim tail when pulled tight) to the loops.

And here, I made structural beaded rings that are part of the centerpiece, and tied the ribbon to those. On smaller pendants, I've also attached ribbon to a beaded ring with a larks head knot...just another way to use ribbon or cord! With some small adaptations, you can even use these methods with a kumihimo or other fiber rope.


I must preface this section by saying that my significant other works at Tandy whenever I go to visit him at work, I peruse the store for things that I might be able to use in my beadwork. One day I was looking for a wider leather lace, and fell in love with their Kodiak lace in the ¼” width. It is an oiled leather, so while it is thick and strong, it remains supple. I use this lace almost exclusively because it's so easy to work with, and feels better the more you wear it. Because of the width, it doesn't fit in most commercially made leather ends, so I've had to come up with different ways of attaching it to my work and to the closures I want to use.

As you can see in this photo, the lace is so sturdy that you can poke a hole in it and attach a jump ring or wire link, that will then connect to the beadwork or clasp.

Of course, you can always use rivets to attach a leather strap to the beadwork – you just need to have a place that the leather can attach to the beadwork. You can see two different low tech “rivet” methods in the next photo.

In the above photo, the necklace on the left, simply poke 4 holes in the of the lace, spaced out so when the end was folded over the ring, one pair would be on the front, and the other on the back. Cut a short piece of waxed linen, and string an 8/0 bead on it. From the front of the piece, match up your two pairs of holes, and pass each tail of linen through one of the pairs of holes. When the linen is on the back of the piece, tie a surgeon's knot and trimmed the tails short. You can use any type of bead for this method...I personally love it with either a subtle seed bead, or something large like a mother-of-pearl button.

For the piece on the right, I used wire to make something even closer to a traditional rivet. Made a small spiral on the end of a piece of wire, make a 90 degree bend, so that the spiral will lie flat against the leather. Fold the end of the leather through the loop on the beadwork, and poke your holes accordingly. Pass your wire through the holes in the leather from the back to the front, and string on a nice flat bead. Snip your wire so it's just long enough to grip with your chain nose pliers (at the tip), and have just enough extra to fold in. Yeah, I don't know how else to describe that, other than you're making a bend like a staple...hey, I'm a seed beader! After you make the little bend so your bead won't fall off, gently (so you don't break your bead) squeeze the little staple end flat against the bead.

Wire links:

I usually use this method when I'm going to attach chain directly to a centerpiece, though you can use it for any type of strap.

Here, I have passed the wire directly through a bead and made a wrapped loop, that I was then able to connect to my chain. When you use this method, BE SUPER CAREFUL that you do not snag your thread with the wire. It will cut the little thread fibers and make a weak spot, even if you reinforced. This is yet another reason why it's so important to use a larger bead when you're doing a direct connection.

For this piece, I made a large wrapped loop that connected to a beaded loop on the pendant. If you do this type of wire link, please make sure that your bead loop is an architectural stitched piece. You do not want the chance of wire nicking or wearing against your thread.

Can you picture this method with a chainmaille strap? I sure can!

Attaching a strap to seed beadwork does not have to be intimidating or time consuming. I hope these methods give you some ideas to try, no matter what type of jewelry you make! Thanks for having me!

~ Lindsay



  1. I'm with you, it can be rather boring to stitch a rope. You've really come up with some great ideas, thanks! I really love the leather strap ones. I've always stayed away from leather because I didn't know how to attach it.

  2. SO many inspiring ideas here! Great post!

  3. Great post Lindsay and such original designs...thank you for sharing with us.

  4. I love this jewelry! It is so bright and colorful! I can think of so many outfits I would like to wear some of these with! I have been working on my own jewelry, too. I want to start my own store someday! I hope I will be able to do it!
    Emily Smith |


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