Free Mixed-Media Project: Make Fabric and Wire Jewelry

I so enjoy working with KS Productions and Katie Hacker on Beads, Baubles & Jewels. I’ve been contributing to that program for over 15 years–how is that even possible? I remember the first time I worked with this amazing crew, and now it’s like visiting family when we get together. This year, I had the pleasure of also being a guest on the KS Production show, Make it Artsy! What a thrill to bring together mixed media and wire jewelry techniques with the host, Julie Fei Fan Balzer.

For this show, my project is wire jewelry frames filled with bold and colorful fabric. The wire shapes can be anything you like–a form you create over a mug, figurine, or the mandrels of pliers. The fabric can be anything you have on hand or a swatch of something you find at a flea market or favorite fabric shop.

To follow are instructions for making the earrings shown above. For information on how to create the wire butterflies, also shown above, refer to: Free Butterfly Wire Beading Frame Tutorial.

How to Make Fabric and Wire Earrings

Materials

16-gauge wire
shaped mandrel/mandrel pliers
flat-nose pliers
chain-nose pliers
round-nose pliers
wire cutters
waxed linen
tapestry needle
fabric
two-sided fusible web
scissors
iron
ironing pad or ironing board
Optional: jig, jig pattern (free PDF compliments of Brenda Schweder and Now That’s a Jig)

Steps
Form the Shape

1. Leaving a 3-inch tail, wrap the 16-gauge wire around the mandrel pliers, wrapping until the two ends of the wire overlap.

wrapping mandrel wire jewelry

Wrap the wire around the mandrel pliers, jig, or other shape you want for your earrings.

Remove the wire shape from the pliers then cut the working end to 3-inches past the overlap.

wire jewelry shape

Remove the formed shape from the mandrel.

2. Bend one wire end to a 90-degree angle, up from the center of where the wires overlap.
wrapped wire loop

Wrap the other wire around the base of the 90-degree bend; complete 2 wraps.

wrapped wire loop

Form a wrapped loop with the wire bent to a 90-degree angle, wrapping so the wire ends meet.
completed wire-wrapped loop

You could also form a messy wrapped loop; the only rule here is to complete a wrap so you have a shape that is closed. Otherwise, when stitching the fabric, your thread could slip through an opening.

If creating a pair of earrings, repeat so you have two wire shapes.

Prepare the Fabric

3. Choose two pieces of fabric and sandwich them with a piece of fusible web in between—right sides of fabric facing out. Iron the layers together following fusible web manufacturer’s instructions.

Layered fabric and fusible web are joined together with an iron.

4. Trace the inside of one shape onto the fabric, on an area you want to feature. Cut out the traced area.

Shape traced onto fabric then cut out.

Repeat for the second shape.

Stitch Fabric in Place

5. Thread your needle with a length of waxed linen. Pierce the fabric about 1/4-inch from one edge then pull the thread through the fabric, leaving a 3-inch tail (or a length long enough to use for knotting, later). Place fabric inside wire frame then pass thread over the frame, around, and back up through the fabric again, just a little bit further up one side.

stitch fabric to wire

Begin stitching the fabric and frame together.

Repeat up and around the frame, securing the fabric so it’s centered inside the opening. Work around the wrapped loop as neatly as you can.

Stitch around the frame so the fabric is centered and your stitches as neat as possible.

Work the stitches all the way around the frame until you reach the tail. Form a surgeon’s knot to secure. Trim the thread ends.

Form a knot with the thread ends to secure.

Repeat for the second shape.

Add ear wires to complete the earrings.

Have fun creating wire jewelry shapes and filling them with fabric you love. Expand from earrings and consider making pendants, bracelets, or even home décor. With the holidays in mind, you could also create ornaments or decorations for packages using this mixed-media wire jewelry idea.

Tammy Honaman

Editor in Chief, Beadwork, and Group Editorial Director, Interweave Beading and Jewelry


For more wire jewelry inspiration, don’t miss these resources:

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