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Fabric Beads

Updated on November 9, 2014
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Ideas for Making Fabric Beads

I love beads, I used to buy loads of them.

But you don't have to just buy beads, you can make some pretty awesome handmade beads too. A limited budget forced me to look at how I could make my own beads.

If you already have a stash of fabric, why not try making some fabric beads?

Below are some ideas and inspiration for you to make your own fabric beads.

So get your thinking caps on, have a look through the information below and get inspired.

Let me know what you come up with!

Nothing but Fabric

Of course the first stop when coming up with ideas for fabric beads is actually making the beads out of fabric.

This could take up a whole lens all on it's own because there are so many ideas and experiments that you could use.

You could make a really simple bead just by wrapping fabric around some stuffing. Of course you would be left with a funny rough bit of fabric sticking out at one end but maybe that would give you an interesting effect anyway. Check out the diagram below.

When I've made beads like this I've sewn them to the background textiles piece so that the funny gathered piece is hidden behind the bead.

Simple Fabric Beads
Simple Fabric Beads | Source

Stuffing

You can stuff your beads with anything - toy stuffing, kapok, old fabrics, wool etc.

Donut-shaped fabric beads
Donut-shaped fabric beads | Source

In this link you will find a few excellent tutorials for making different types of beads and buttons from fabric.

My doughnut-shaped bead (shown opposite) was an accident - I was trying to make the braided knot bead from the link below.

These beads were made from a long strip of fabric. I wrapped one end of the strip into a tight circle and then continued to wrap the excess fabric into circle until I was left with a donut shaped bead.

Structured pattern fabric beads
Structured pattern fabric beads

Think about how you could structure beads from a pattern.

Search for patterns for making globes - look at the kind of patterns that are used for sport's balls.

Stuffed Fabric Bead Clusters
Stuffed Fabric Bead Clusters | Source

As you can see from the image opposite, you can make a whole cluster of fabric beads simply by taking a piece of fabric and pushing balls of stuffing into it from behind.

These are made in exactly the same way as the first example I showed you but the beads are not made from one individual scrap of fabric but a big piece or fabric and the beads are left all attached to one another. These beads were made by stitching balls of wool behind some muslin and stitching it into place. It creates a bobbled surface, rather than individual beads.

Doodle for a fabric scrumble
Doodle for a fabric scrumble | Source

Above: An idea I had for a textiles piece featuring the bobbly bead technique from above.

When you insert stuffing into the back of a textiles piece you're going to warp the original shape so a square piece of fabric will no longer be square.

Wrapped Beads

Wrapped beads are great if you want to produce a longer thinner bead (although this technique can also work well with shorter beads too).

They're great for showing off several layers at once - and can be very beautiful if you use more than one fabric.

How to make wrapped fabric beads
How to make wrapped fabric beads | Source

Hot Air Gun

This is my favourite tool for fabric manipulation - but it also works well for melting plastics too. Just don't forget to wear a respirator and work in a well ventilated area because some of those fumes are pretty nasty!

Black & Decker 9756 10-Amp Dual Temperature Heat Gun
Black & Decker 9756 10-Amp Dual Temperature Heat Gun

Some people recommend "proper" craft heat tools but I've never had a problem with using the "bog standard" hot air gun for my textiles projects.

Heat guns are great for "welding" fabric and plastic together, removing the tops layers of textiles pieces, melting holes through fabric and singing edges so they don't fray.

 

Melted Wrapped Beads

Wrapped beads can also be melted into place to reveal all the different layers.

I use synthetic fabrics and plastic bags but you can also use Tyvek.

Melted plastic and fabric bead
Melted plastic and fabric bead | Source

Above: This bead was made by wrapping a strip of silver plastic bag up with a strip of red synthetic fabric and then melting them with a hot air gun.

Peanuts
Peanuts | Source

Opposite: A range of fabrics, net and silver bag were wrapped up into a bead and blasted with the hot air gun.

Tyvek

Tyvek comes in paper forms (they make envelopes out of it) and fabric. Both can be used to make beautiful wrapped beads.

Tyvek can be painted and sewn through. It can also be melted with an iron in patches and appliqued to textile backgrounds.

Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station
Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station

Make sure you have a separate soldering iron for craft work and electrical work because fabric and plastic will coat the tip of the iron and ruin it for finer work.

Soldering irons are a great way for melting your textiles work with control - unlike the hot air gun which is somewhat chaotic.

 

Soldering Iron

I've talked about using a hot air gun to melt wrapped beads but how about melting into them with a hot air gun?

You can create patterns from pressing the soldering iron into the surface of your wrapped beads and revealing the layer beneath.

Embroidered Beads

Blue Iris
Blue Iris | Source

Why not make your fabric beads into mini textiles masterpieces?

You can embroider flat pieces of textiles and make them into beads, like I have with the discs below.

These were made from one large piece of embroidered, layered textiles.

I cut the textiles piece into circles and sewed two circular pieces backsides-together.

The edge of the bead disc was satin-stitched* to hide the raw edge of the textiles and then beaded with sead beads.

With these discs you have a wonderful opportunity for decorating the flat side of your textiles pieces - you could even machine embroider imagery onto them - mini portraits or landscapes - bigger versions would also be great as Christmas tree decorations.

*A word of warning - because the layers by this point were very thick I broke my first bobbin case this way! So try not to make your bead textiles piece too thick in the first place!

The Bead Maker

This book have got some gorgeous instructions for making some fabric heart beads (from velvet - they're yummy!) and some embroidered cube beads which are worked around a cube of wood and have machine embroidery decorated sides.

The Bead Maker
The Bead Maker

The Bead Maker is a great book to start with if you're starting to think about making your own beads.

It has great tutorials for using polymer clay, felt, natural materials like seed pods, plastics and, of course, fabric and embroidery.

 

Felt Beads

Felt Beads
Felt Beads | Source

The obvious "textile" bead is the felt bead.

These can be simple or complex. They can be one plain colour or they can be decorated or stitched into.

Simple felt beads can also be used as a base for fabrics and textiles.

You could just as easily use bunched up wadding or even discarded fabric - this will give you a great base that you can stitch into.

Ultra Fine 12" Wool Roving 8-Pack: Autumn 2 Oz.
Ultra Fine 12" Wool Roving 8-Pack: Autumn 2 Oz.

When you're making felt beads it's nice to have a good selection of colours available - also think about adding yarns and other fibres to the surface of the bead as you're working it.

 

In the images below you can see how I felted a pebble.

This is a great way to make big felt beads.

Just grab any pebble that you love the shape of.

Wrap wool around it, felt it. Wait for it to dry.

Cut a slit along one side, take the pebble out, stuff the felted casing to make a solid shape and sew it up.

I'm thinking about covering this bead with hand embroidery but other options include needle felting into it or dyes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Bead Effects

Silicone soft studs on stretchy fabric
Silicone soft studs on stretchy fabric | Source

Bead Effects

Don't want to fuss around with attaching beads to your textiles pieces afterwards?

How about incorporating shiny materials into the fabric to pick the light up, just like a bead would?

The sample below was made by stretching out stretchy Lycra on a board, crushing blobs of silicone into the fabric, then rubbing gold (or silver) leaf into the silicone.

Once the stretchy fabric is un-stretched the metallic blobs remain stretched and raised from the surface.

Wind Angel
Wind Angel

In the lower part of the textiles piece opposite you'll see some silver dots - these are the melted remnants of a piece of metallic voile I found to cover the top of the textiles piece with.

When I melted the majority of the voile away I was left with a few metallic threads and the gorgeous silver studs.

Red Dragon - glue gun blobs
Red Dragon - glue gun blobs | Source

The effect opposite was made with beads of hot glue gun - think about making beads by trapping layers of fabric or paper in between glue.

Glue gun

Glue gun glue can be used to make great blobs and studs (as you've seen opposite).

The glue can be embossed with rubber stamps and it can be coloured too.

The glue can even be stitched over - an easy way to make a line of raised stitching.

Using Objects

Membrane - beads made from plastic bottle tops
Membrane - beads made from plastic bottle tops | Source

Covering Objects with Fabric to Make Beads

The Bottle tops used below could easily be covered with fabric to make big chunky beads.

What else could you use as a starting point to make beads?

I've already mentioned straws and wooden cubes above but what else could you use?

Cocoon detail from The Garden of the Empress
Cocoon detail from The Garden of the Empress | Source

The bead below was made by wrapping a knitted tie around a used thread spool and then tying it in place with ribbon yarn and handspun yarn.

Bags as Beads

Green Bobble Bag

Green Bobble Bag
Green Bobble Bag | Source

Bags as Beads?

The little bag I made (shown opposite) was inspired by a bobbly glass bead.

Think about how beads in other materials (like metal or wood, or glass) could inspire your textiles work.

How can you duplicate a certain look in textiles?

Making Beautiful Beads: Glass * Metal * Polymer Clay * Fiber
Making Beautiful Beads: Glass * Metal * Polymer Clay * Fiber

This book is full of techniques for making beads out of fibre, paper, polymer clay, metal and glass and contains many beautiful examples of each type of bead.

This book is another great starting point if you're interested in making your own beads.

 

Making Beautiful Beads: Glass * Metal * Polymer Clay * Fiber

This book contains some beautiful images of glass beads, which inspired the bag above.

I bought it because I was fascinated with making glass beads - I wanted to know how it was done - and there's a section about lamp-worked beads in this book.

Share Your Thoughts - Reader Feedback.

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    • profile image

      appelonia 

      5 years ago

      Thanks! Lots of great creative ideas!

    • TommysTips profile image

      TommysTips 

      5 years ago

      I love your bead ideas - very inspiring!

    • profile image

      DebW07 

      5 years ago

      The doughnut-shaped beads are very nice, great job.

    • Fridayonmymind LM profile image

      Fridayonmymind LM 

      5 years ago

      You are so clever. I know someone who will love your lens so I will pass on the info.

    • profile image

      Hannah Writes 

      5 years ago

      These ideas are great for older Girl Scouts. Blessed!

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 

      5 years ago

      Love these! I've made paper beads of various sorts before, but not fabric beads. (Which you think would be obvious because I always have a ton of extra fabric lying around!)

    • safereview profile image

      Bob 

      5 years ago from Kansas City

      Fabric beads... awesome!! Great lens.

    • lav777 lm profile image

      lav777 lm 

      5 years ago

      so creative really!

    • profile image

      greenpharmacy 

      5 years ago

      Classic!!! Great thanks for the tutorial... I will try it when holiday

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Very Beautiful! Thanks for the interesting lens

    • profile image

      GetAcneFree 

      5 years ago

      Wow! I had no idea it was possible to make fabric beads - neat!

    • profile image

      Pinnsvin 

      5 years ago

      Great Lens! I didn't know you could make fabric beads - they look really interesting.

    • profile image

      DDLewis 

      5 years ago

      Love this and hope to incorporate some of this into my quilts!! Great lens!!

    • CarrieLee2 profile image

      CarrieLee2 

      5 years ago

      Very Beautiful! Thanks for the very interesting post!

    • profile image

      NoodleGirlsie 

      5 years ago

      This is amazing - If only I was even half that creative... thank you for the fascinating lens!

    • MVSquid profile image

      MVSquid 

      5 years ago

      Interesting. This is something that I am not familiar with, but the results are beautiful.

    • LaPikas profile image

      LaPikas 

      5 years ago

      Awesome lens! And with techniques I haven't never seen or heard before, so worth it to try.

    • profile image

      AugieDoggy 

      5 years ago

      Wow! How interesting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @jeanniebean: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Silk scrap beads would be gorgeous!

    • profile image

      jeanniebean 

      5 years ago

      fabulous colours and ideas

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @traveldestinations: Thank you - glad to help :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @kainth56: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @SheilaMilne: Thanks very much

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @yumhealthyfood: Thanks :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @lionmom100: Thank you :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @Chocolatealchemy: Thanks for commenting - hope you have fun!

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @HaviRose: Thanks for visiting :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @JackRussell LM: Thank you for visiting - hope the dress project goes well :)

    • Rachel Field profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Field 

      5 years ago

      @SteveKaye: Thanks so much for visiting :)

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      5 years ago

      These are such amazing works of art. They're a joy to see. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • JackRussell LM profile image

      JackRussell LM 

      5 years ago

      Such a beautiful and inspiring lens! I am currently studying Textiles for a GCSE and hope to go on after 2 years of study at school to go to University and do a full Textile course to become a designer! Thanks for sharing this lens! It's given me loads of creative ideas for my current coursework of making a dress ;) Thanks again! Well done for the fantastic lens too!x

    • profile image

      HaviRose 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for this article! My mother used to make wrapped beads and I had the best time watching her.

    • Chocolatealchemy profile image

      Chocolatealchemy 

      5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Wow what a brilliant Lens, you've shared so much -thank you. Makes me want to make my own fabric beads immediately!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 

      5 years ago

      Gorgeous.

    • profile image

      yumhealthyfood 

      5 years ago

      its amazing waooo

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 

      5 years ago from Kent, UK

      You've created some amazingly beautiful effects.

    • profile image

      kainth56 

      5 years ago

      Its Really Great and Incredible. beyond my imagination.

    • profile image

      traveldestinations 

      5 years ago

      Learned something new. Great ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      oh my! Thank you for all your wonderful ideas!! I have loads of my hand dyed scrap silk fabrics (silk satin and silk habtoai and have been trying to figure out how to get them to people in the right markets. I love the ideas posted above! INSPIRED

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 

      5 years ago

      these are some great ideas...

    • greentiger11 profile image

      greentiger11 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting. These remind me of the jewels and trinkets found in Indiana Jones movie series! HA!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 

      5 years ago

      This looks simple enough that even non-crafty me could do this. Great idea!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Totally cool! How creative you are! Thanks so much for such a fun lens! SquidAngel blessings to you.

    • ivanjuras profile image

      ivanjuras 

      5 years ago

      Definitely great if you're on a budget.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 

      5 years ago from France

      So many wonderful ideas here. I would never have thought of making fabric beads.

    • ArtzeeChris LM profile image

      ArtzeeChris LM 

      5 years ago

      I love this! I've never thought of using fabric to make beads for textile projects. This is just great thanks so much for show us how to do it too!

    • makarenko profile image

      makarenko 

      5 years ago

      I love this! <3 thank you so much for sharing!

    • profile image

      katie-semple-52 

      5 years ago

      How creative! Thanks for the beautiful lens!

    • dumhaka profile image

      dumhaka 

      5 years ago

      wow, very creative ideas. I see it was amazed. thanks for share...

      Happy new years

    • graphite75 profile image

      Tom 

      5 years ago

      That is pretty cool, nice lens!

    • jcalbon lm profile image

      jcalbon lm 

      5 years ago

      What a creative approach to making beads!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Very useful this

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Awesome tutorials for making different fabric beads! What a lovely idea for an article. Well done. :)

    • teresa-shatto profile image

      teresa-shatto 

      5 years ago

      Fantastic! I never would have thought of using fabric or wool to make beads. Great lens!

    • profile image

      JZinoBodyArt 

      5 years ago

      Inspiring lens!

    • kimark421 profile image

      kimark421 

      5 years ago

      What a great lens! The beads are really cool! Thanks!

    • Cabmgmnt LM profile image

      Corey 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very cool, I love making jewelry and now can't wait to make beads!

    • profile image

      irfangoldfsd 

      5 years ago

      I might have to make these with my students.

    • profile image

      MichaelDubrovnik 

      5 years ago

      Nice lens. Great drawing too ;-)

    • hotsquid profile image

      hotsquid 

      5 years ago

      Very creative. They look great too.

    • profile image

      marylane 

      5 years ago

      These are great! Thanks for the inspiration, especially with the hot air gun info!

    • jamesdesalvo lm profile image

      jamesdesalvo lm 

      5 years ago

      These are great. I might have to make these with my students.

    • profile image

      Rockbleeder 

      5 years ago

      I love DIY's and this is one of the best. :)

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 

      5 years ago

      This is great craftsmanship, loving this lens!

    • rainbowbutterfl1 profile image

      rainbowbutterfl1 

      5 years ago

      Great lens & I am amazed of your bright craft ideas !

      Thanks for sharing :)

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      So creative! I have to admit I like the simplicity of the felted wool beads best but I really appreciate the creative energy that goes into all these different styles.

    • pinkberry profile image

      pinkberry 

      5 years ago

      I am in love love love with this!!! So wonderful. :)

    • profile image

      applejacking 

      5 years ago

      wonderful craft ideas. i love your way to optimize those unused fabric

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      5 years ago from Idaho

      I have never seen this before, very unique! Blessed!

    • profile image

      Benjamynn 

      5 years ago

      Very cool!

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 

      5 years ago

      A wonderful upcycling idea!

    • funnygusta profile image

      funnygusta 

      5 years ago

      i love too beads, these are manual made...i mean homemade.:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Very creative use of fabrics. Congrats on your Purple Star!

    • littleowl1 profile image

      littleowl1 

      5 years ago

      So cool! I make tons of paper beads myself, but never thought to try fabric. Very interesting. =)

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 

      5 years ago

      Very creative and interesting!

    • entetrix profile image

      entetrix 

      5 years ago

      These are so beautiful! And great instructions!

    • profile image

      dellgirl 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these Ideas for Making Fabric Beads. Nicely done.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      5 years ago

      What a great tutorial. I enjoyed your photos very much!

    • profile image

      crstnblue 

      5 years ago

      Very nice lens, creative and fun. :)

      Thanks for sharing!

      Blessed!

    • meltyourmansheart profile image

      meltyourmansheart 

      5 years ago

      Just reading your lens made me think of some possible thing i could do with beads. Very creative and interesting lens

    • irminia profile image

      irminia 

      5 years ago

      Beautiful - no end to creativitiy :)

    • profile image

      skbook39 

      5 years ago

      very interesting. Never saw these before. Very creative.

    • profile image

      angharad 

      5 years ago

      Very unusual and creative!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 

      5 years ago from US

      Love these! So pretty.

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 

      5 years ago from Cyprus

      As a jewelry designer, I can really appreciate these fabric bead ideas. Blessed.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      5 years ago

      You've brought some new, original ideas. They woke me up to take notice.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Great one, thanks for sharing this!

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      5 years ago from US/TN

      Interesting! I didn't know there was such a thing as fabric beads.

    • profile image

      joanveronica 

      5 years ago

      This is a fabulous collection of very creative ideas! I loved it!

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image

      floppypoppygift1 

      5 years ago

      Clever techniques and beautiful handiwork. Thanks for sharing your wonderfully cost-effective techniques. Cheers~cb

    • profile image

      myspace9 

      5 years ago

      Fabric beads are beautiful. Nice lens.

    • Scotties-Rock profile image

      Clairissa 

      5 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      I love these fabric beads. Oh the fun you can have with these. I will be making some, thanks for sharing. :) Blessed!

    • justmelucy profile image

      justmelucy 

      5 years ago

      How creative and eyecatching! Like a happy whimsie, I love them all.

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