Monday, July 31, 2017

Turning $5 thongs into custom footwear

Well summer has passed its mid-way point but better late than never. I happened to catch a YouTube on decorating thongs with a right-angle weave bead treatment. It looked a little fussy but inspired me to try for a more boho look using strips of flat Turkish bead crochet, attached to the thong straps for an extra dose of sass.

Here are the original thongs, purchased at Walmart for $5:

And here's the embellished version:

The strips of beadwork are actually flat Turkish bead crochet, which anyone can do especially following this great tutorial by Marion Hunziker-Larson of Marion Jewels in Fiber. Marion’s tutorial takes you through making one strip for a bracelet. You will need a shorter length to fit your thongs and we will double up each strip to make them a little wider than what is shown in the bracelet tutorial. But the technique is exactly the same and Marion explains it so much better than I could.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Pair of thongs similar to those shown above
  • C-Lon Tex 400 in a color to complement your beads
  • Regular C-Lon or a cord thinner than the Tex to connect the strips
  • Tapestry needles to handle the thicker C-Lon Tex and a thinner one for the thinner cord
  • Crochet hook 1.5 or 1.75 mm. Mine is “well-loved” and I created a soft handle by wrapping it with an ace bandage secured by duck tape, making the skinny hook much easier to hold.
  • Size 6/0 beads, color of your choice. I used just about an entire 6” tube or about 28 grams.
  • Blue plastic dental floss loop to help you thread the 6/0 beads on the C-Lon Tex cord.
  • Two pretty buttons to match your beads.
  • Fireline 8# or heavier weight thread.

The C-Lon can be found at most beading stores but if you haven’t tried Marion’s online shop yet, this is the perfect opportunity. (I don’t make any money from this, I just like her products, service and tutorials.)

First, measure the side strap of the thong from the center between the toes to the side connected to the sole. This will tell you the length needed for each flat Turkish bead crochet strip. You will need eight strips - 4 using an odd count of beads and 4 using an even count. 

This construction will allow you to zip an odd and even count together to get just the right width of bead crochet. Use the thicker C-Lon and follow Marion’s great instructions to make the strips. Your first set will be a little bit of trial and error as you get your measurements just right. I needed 4 inches for my strips so my odd-count strips used 39 beads and my even count strips used 40 beads. Once you determine the dimensions for your first set, just repeat to make three more odd count strips and three more even count strips. Don't do anything with your cord ends just yet.

After making your eight strips, connect one odd and one even to make four wider strips. You do this by laying the strip down with the odd count to the right. Then line up the even count of the other strip so the center beads are interlocking. Thread a thinner tapestry needle with the thinner C-Lon cord and sew up through the center beads in the strip zipping the odd-count strip to the even count strip. I have tried this with Fireline and a beading needle but find a thicker cord seems to secure the connection a bit better. Once you get to the other end, tie this cord to one of the cords hanging from your crochet pieces then weave the ends into the crochet to hide and trim. Do the same with the working thread at the beginning of the connection. Repeat until you have four strips. Now use your thicker tapestry needle, weave in the ends of the crochet pieces and trim.

Using straight pins, arrange the strips on the thong straps so they align properly. Thread the thinner tapestry needle with Fireline and sew from the sole to the center. It's easier to disguise glitches in the center where the button will hide gaps. Sew through the beads on each side into the strap, back out again and through the next bead until you reach the end.

Connect all four strips, two per thong and attach a pretty button in the center on the toe strap between the two sides. Pass through the button many times with Fireline to secure it and fasten off on the reverse side.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My splurge: Sizzix Big Shot Plus

Sizzix has been making a big push with Interweave to entice jewelry makers as a new audience for its Big Shot system, which has many fans in the card-making and scrapbooking world. When I visited Tucson earlier this year for the Gem and Mineral Show, there was a booth featuring the Big Shot Jewelry Studio. I have long been tempted to buy a die cutting machine but I always deferred thinking I spend enough money on my beading habit, why start a new one? But it kept calling my name until I finally broke down earlier this month and purchased the Big Shot Plus and the Jewelry Studio Conversion kit.

Like many other hobbies, the main tools are just the price of admission and then you have all the accessories. In the case of jewelry making, the accessories come in the form of dies which allow you to cut perfect objects.

I am proceeding slowly so I don't end up with a stock pile of materials I will never use but I did buy the Bigz Flower die shown here, thinking it would be versatile for paper crafting as well as jewelry.

I wanted to see how well the die would cut fabric so I put some scraps of ultra suede through the machine using the Bigz Flower die and riveted them to leather bracelet bases I had on hand. I no time at all, I came up with two bracelets I will be gifting to my nieces.

Candie Cooper has also been featuring the Sizzix Jewelry Studio on her blog and mentioned that Michaels Stores would start to carry many of the jewelry-making dies.

Candie Cooper Blog Article on Sizzix

I am guessing Candie will have some new articles on how to use certain dies along with design ideas so I will pop back once I make some new items.

Here is the Interweave Sizzix package that comes with a Big Shot machine and the platforms you will need to get started. It comes with the machine, a magazine with instructions for the design shown below, leather and the dies to make the design.

Interweave Big Shot Jewelry System and Add-ons

I decided to shop around and buy my items from different vendors. First, I opted to buy the Big Shot Plus thinking its larger size would be a bit more versatile and then purchased the Jewelry Studio Conversion Kit separately. I got my Big Shot Plus from which had a great sale and, because their warehouse is in Arizona, I was able to pick it up. Then I bought the Bigz Flower die from Sizzix and the Jewelry Studio Conversion Kit from Amazon. I did find that it pays to shop around unless you like to get started with a package system like the one Interweave is offering.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Back to beading and books

We are in the lull between the baby shower and baby arrival so I am catching up on my beading and books. How many books do you read at one time? If you look at my Goodreads shelf, it looks like I have reading ADD.

Paula's Goodreads Shelf

I have finished two of these books and just need to mark them as read. I usually have two or three books going at once. If you are a book lover and haven't found Goodreads yet, I would highly encourage you to visit. Not only do I find suggestions for many new books, I find the ratings are more accurate than Amazon which seems to love everything. Recording what I have read prevents me from buying the same book again and again - and yes, I have done that!

As far as beading, there is nothing too taxing: a pair of earrings and a pin idea I am playing with.

Interlace Pods Earrings Design: BronzePony Beaded Jewelry
Earrings are the perfect project to get the old beading muscles moving again and these are from a YouTube tutorial by Stephanie of BronzePony Beaded Jewelry.

The necklace is a yoga length based on an earlier tutorial I shared. I added the LOVE pendant by the Lipstick Ranch and think this will be perfect for my niece's birthday.

The rose on the right is an idea I am toying with to add beaded art to greeting cards. The design is from Diane Fitzgerald's The Beaded Garden and is just one of many delightful floral motifs. I thought it would be fun to include this as the centerpiece of a greeting card and will post the final result after I make the card.

© Cave Creek Beads