Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wrap Bracelet Tutorial Using Blueberry Cove Beads


A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Cat from Cut out and Keep, asking if I'd like to craft test a new monthly bead subscription box from Blueberry Cove Beads in Canada. Well of course I said 'yes'.  I love trying out new products and the idea of playing with a set of beads that have all been specially curated to complement each other sounded amazing.

Each monthly set has a surprise theme and this month's theme is 'Boho'. As you can see, it's not just wood, ceramic, metal and faux semi-precious beads, there's waxed cotton cord in there along with some other really interesting findings too.

The beads are all separately packaged inside a black satin drawstring bag and each theme comes with its own challenge written on a postcard. If you upload an image of your creation to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages there's a chance to win your next box for free - which all adds to the community feel of a subscription box like this.

Once everyone has had time to play with their beads, more information about the contents of all the boxes, past and present, are posted on the Blueberry Cove Bead website.  Ideally I'd love to have a bit more information on how to purchase more of the beads in the subscription box I received.  For example, I can see many uses for the silver metal drop pendants, but I can find no way of finding out where to get them from in the future.


I must confess that I may have let out a tiny squeal when I saw the amount of waxed cotton cord in the box. I knew exactly what I was going to do first!

I love wrap bracelets and the Boho theme lends itself perfectly to this style of jewellery.  I'm really drawn to the turquoise looking long beads.  The small round blue ceramic beads are so pretty too.  From a distance the design looks quite abstract, but when you look closely you can see little blue irises painted on them.  So sweet!  I'm going to combine these two beads to make a single wrap beaded bracelet :-

How to make a single wrap bead bracelet -

You will need:-
  • A board or tray to attach your cord to.  A clip board would work well too.
  • About 75cm of 2mm leather or waxed cotton cord should be enough to make a bracelet that will go around your wrist once.
  • Tape or bulldog clip to attach your bracelet to the tray or board.
  • A large button or round bead to use as a fastener.
  • About a metre of beading thread.
  • A needle.
  • Scissors.
  • Beads.
  • Glue for securing your knots.
Measure your cord and cut it to length. For a single wrap bracelet 75cm should be ample.

If you are using a button, thread the cord through the holes and secure it in the centre of the cord with the cords at the back of the button.  I'm using the large round metal disc layered with one of the decorative wooden discs on top as a fastener.

I folded the cord in half, threaded the fold through the hole from the front to the back and then passed the cord through the loop, pulling it tight to form a knot.

Knot the cord close to your bead or button several times to secure it in place.

I taped the bead to a tray to secure it in place and make it easier to get under and around it.  Many beaders use a clipboard for this but I find that a tray serves two purposes - it holds the cord in place, allowing you to get under and around more easily.  The tray is also a great place for keeping the beads you are working with close at hand and under control.

Cut a length of beading thread and thread it onto a needle.  I've cut mine to about 1 metre long.

Secure your thread a short distance away from the last knot in the cord.  If you are using larger beads then your beads will need to start further away than if you were using smaller beads.

The first bead needs to be more securely attached than the rest of the beads.  With your needle pointing into the centre weaving area, thread on your first bead and take the needle through the cord on the opposite side.

Take the needle over the left hand cord and thread the needle back through the bead.

*Thread a second bead onto the needle and push it all the way to the cord.  Pass the needle and thread under the two cords; position the bead between the two cords.  Now push the bead upwards slightly so that the bead holes are above the cords ...

...coming over the left cord, pass the needle and thread back through the bead from left to right.** The bead weaving technique is repeated from * to ** until your bracelet is the desired length.

To prevent the beads from bulging, slipping or gapping, work a small stitch into the right cord after every 5th bead or so, then continue with the weaving pattern. Also, don't 'squash' the beads together, but try to leave a fraction of a mm between each bead.

If you wish to add different sized beads, the size change needs to be gradual for it to remain neat. 

Wrap bead bracelets look great with blocks of different colours and varying bead sizes.  It tends not to work so well adding just one smaller bead between two larger ones though.  I loved the pretty round ceramic beads with a subtle flower pattern, however when I tried to add a single round bead and then continue with the bigger turquoise beads I was getting an ugly gap where the beading thread was showing between the cord and the bead.  To solve the problem I added a couple of tiny seed beads on either side of my round bead to bridge the gap for a much neater finish.

Keep trying on your bracelet to make sure you get the perfect fit.  You want your beads to wrap comfortably around your wrist, just stopping when they meet the large bead or button.

When your bracelet is as long as you want it to be, tie a knot in the cords close to the last bead.

To make your fastening loop, knot the cord again further down, making sure that the loop will slide snugly over your large bead or button.

Finally cut the cord close to the final knot.  You can add a drop of jewellery glue to the knot and any thread ends for extra security.

Enjoy wearing your bracelet!

I love the casual style of this bracelet so much that I decided to make a simple necklace to match.  What do you think?  It's quite different to my usual style of jewellery, but that's part of the beauty of a subscription box - it encourages you to try projects outside of your comfort zone.


I've only used a very small part of the Blueberry Cove Beads June box so far and I'm really looking forward to having more of a play with it soon.  If you love making jewellery I can certainly see the appeal of having a box like this drop through your door every month - the anticipation of what the theme will be and being sent beads and findings that might be outside of your usual buying habits is certainly very refreshing and exciting.  Isobel, the owner of Blueberry Cove Beads has a real passion for what she does and has an excellent eye for colour and detail.  There were a couple of items in the box that I don't imagine I will use - the loop of shiny flowers isn't really to my taste and the filigree metal feels so fragile, I don't think I'd be happy using is in a piece of jewellery...  but that's all part of the surprise nature of a subscription box like this.

Even if you take out the pieces that I may not use, I still think it represents good value for money.  Monthly membership costs US $22 plus $5 shipping to the US and Canada. At the moment they're currently shipping to just the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Full disclosure:  I was sent a free box of Blueberry Cove Beads to test and make something out of.  This post is not sponsored by Blueberry Cove Beads and all opinions are my own.
This review first appeared on the Cut out and Keep website as part of their 
"Craft Test Sidekicks" series.


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Princess silhouette cut out sticker


My daughter moved into her new bedroom at Christmas and she is desperate for it to be a Disney Princess bedroom.  I'm not completely in love with the whole Disney Princess theme, but at the same time I want her to have a room that she is happy in.  I'm trying to find compromises that we both like, but always keeping in mind that this phase won't last forever...

She has two wardrobes in her room for storage and the sides are both looking very bare, so I thought I'd try to do something about it...  She wants Disney Princesses on them, so I thought a nice silhouette of Cinderella or Aurora wouldn't be too over the top.  After a bit of thought, I wondered if I could actually turn a silhouette of my daughter into a pseudo Disney Princess.  I thought some kind of removable sticker might work well as it could be easily removed once this little obsession has passed.

I discovered these removable fabric stickers on the Crafty Computer Paper website and I thought I'd give them a try as they're not permanent.  I also like the fact that they are matte fabric as opposed to shiny plastic, so they have a quality feel about them.

To create the silhouette I found this slightly out of focus photo I took when I was photographing the pom pom DIY.  It was the only image I had in perfect profile, but it did the job.

To create a similar silhouette you would need:-
  • A photograph in profile.  
  • Drawing software that allows you to use layers - I used Inkbot on the Ipad as I don't have a touch screen PC and I was able to trace the silhouette onto a separate layer. I later finished it off in Photoshop.
  • A computer.
  • A printer.
  • Repositionable fabric sticker.  I got mine from Crafty Computer Paper in the UK, but you can also get it here.
  • Scalpel and blades.
  • Cutting board.

I first opened up my image in Inkbot and then drew around the outline of her profile in a second layer.

I then reduced the opacity of the photograph to zero, giving me just the profile outline.

Next I drew on extra swirls to create a Cinderella style bun at the back and an Aurora style quiff at the front.

After a lot of trial and error, I created a little crown to sit on top of her head.

Finally I filled everything in in black to create the silhouette.

To frame my image I created a circle and leaf pattern in Inkbot.

If you would like to download your own circle and leaf pattern to insert your own silhouette into you can find it here.

Once I had my silhouette and circle leaf motif designed in Inkbot, I then opened them both in Photoshop and positioned my silhouette in the centre of the circle and leaf motif.  I then changed all of the black to pink, selecting the black with the magic wand tool and then filling it with the fill bucket.

It's at this point that I should point out that this was my third attempt at the silhouette.  You may notice that this is slightly different to the earlier silhouette.  I had to thicken the eyelash and simplify the crown, as I found that the lines needed to be at least a couple of millimetres wide - any smaller and the threads in the repositionable fabric started to pull apart. I had to keep reminding myself that this was actually woven fabric and not paper, so it behaved slightly differently.

All that was left to do now was to cut out the silhouette and frame and stick them on the side of the wardrobe.  For tips on cutting the shapes out, take a look at my blog post about my first attempt at paper cutting.

Sticking the silhouette of the head to the side of the wardrobe was simple, I just needed to make sure that it was straight.  As you can see, the frame border is much more flexible and so it was much trickier to make sure that it remained in a perfect circle around the silhouette, but I just about managed it by using the offcut centre piece as a guide.

Here's the fabric sticker attached to the side of the wardrobe.  

I love the fact that you can tell it's my daughter's silhouette, but it has a Disney Princess feel about it (which she loves). I also love that it can be removed in just a few seconds with no problems. I'm very pleased with it and she's quite proud of it too which is the important thing.  I'm really hoping that she'll want to keep it up there for at least a couple more years...


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