THIS IS A STUNNING PIECE THAT WOULD BE wonderful for a special occasion, though is quite an investment in time and materials. Strips of fabrics are fed under the sewing machine to produce cords that are then embellished with beads of various sizes. I have chosen a striking color combination of turquoise and red and a variety of beads, some of which are genuine turquoise and bamboo coral. You could easily reduce the number of strands to just a few, or even one, to make a simpler necklace, or make the cords without the beading. A bracelet using the same process, but shorter strands, or earrings made from just a few fine strands sewn to ear wires, will complement the necklace beautifully.
TIPWHEN WORKING ON A CORDED NECKLACE, IT IS USEFUL TO HANG THE CORDS AROUND THE NECK OF A DRESSMAKERS' MANNEQUIN. IF YOU HAVE ONE. TO JUDGE THE PLACEMENT OF THE BEADS AND THE ORDER IN WHICH THE CORDS SHOULD HANG.
- Fine fabrics, such as silk dupioni and cotton, in shades of two colorways
- Machine embroidery threads, including thick threads for the bobbin, in the same colorways
- Polyester sewing threads in matching colors
- Selection of beads in various sizes and shapes in colors to tone and match the fabrics
- Fabric scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Sewing machine
- Hand-sewing needle
- Small, sharp embroidery scissors
- Beading needle, if using very small beads
- Dressmaking mannequin if you have one
2 Thread the sewing machine with embroidery threads, putting a thicker thread onto the bobbin if desired . Set the machine to zig-zag stitch. Twist one end of a strip and place it under the presser foot of the sewing machine. Sew along the length of the strip, twisting it as you go to form a tight cord. You may have to pull the cord through if it is too narrow for the feed dog to grip. When you reach the end, bring the start of the cord around to meet it, overlap the ends and sew them together to form a loop. Repeat this process with all the fabric strips, apart from the binding strip. Twist and sew this into a cord, but do not join the ends.
3 Embellish each cord with beads, using the beading needle if necessary and polyester sewing thread. Make a firm backstitch after sewing on each bead to make sure that it stays in place. Leave a gap of 4 in. (10 cm) across the join in each cord loop. Ensure that when all the cords are placed together the beads create a good arrangement across the necklace. A paint palette makes an ideal container in which to keep your beads handy and in order while you bead the cords.
4 Larger beads look better held on by a small bead. To do this, thread the large bead onto the needle, followed by the smaller one.
5 Pass the needle back through the large bead only and make a firm backstitch into the cord.
6 Group together the embellished cords, with all the 4 in. (10 cm) spaces aligned. Loop the last 12 in. (30 cm) of the binding cord and place it on the bunch of cords, lying in the same direction and with the loop to the left. Working from right to left, wrap the remaining cord tightly around the bunch seven or eight times, leaving at least 2 in. (5 cm) of the free end and the loop protruding from the ends of the binding.
7 Thread the end of the wrapping cord through the loop on the left-hand side. Pull the free end on the right hand side so that both the loop and end are pulled through and under the binding. Pull until firm and then trim off the ends of cord close to the binding. Using matching sewing thread, work a few firm stitches at either end of the binding, going through binding and cords for extra security.