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Patchwork Beading: Where Handicrafts Collide Beautifully!

There are times like today when I feel more beady than thready. I’m thinking about shutting down the sewing machine, and zeroing in instead on my jewelry-making kit that’s hidden among the piles of craft and quilting junk littering my workroom.

I’m probably pushing things a little to describe my beading diversion as “jewelry” because the precious gem and metal quotient is low (especially nowadays), but today I’d like to adorn myself with something pretty that I’ve designed.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in compliments when I wear my handmade stuff. The kudos usually sound like this:  “Love that necklace—how did you ever think to combine those colors?”

Even while I thank them, in my head I’m thinking: “Clearly, you’re not a quilter otherwise you’d get why I selected these colors and textures.” What I do recreationally with beads is nothing different from what we do every time we visit quilt shops–we’re specialists in high-caliber color play.

Guess what? The same principles apply when trolling bead shops or taking a run through a retailer like Michael’s for jewelry-making supplies. To make things super easy, slice the color code off the selvage of a favorite fabric and get to work sorting through beads and findings to match the swatch.

The biggest challenge is to avoid running up a bill—a 20-cent 4mm Swarovski crystal is merely pennies until you have a couple of hundred of them and then you’re paying in dollars.

When it’s time to string my beads, I typically do a spin of that quilting challenge where you throw fabric strips in a bag and blind sort to sew. My version with beads: pour your choices in a bowl and pick randomly.

Okay, full disclosure here: I usually have a casual plan in mind when I pick a bead to string:  warm/cool, dark/light, opaque/transparent, or something along those lines.

Project supplies: A flexwire product for stringing, beads (of course), a closure and/or crimping beads

So, I’m heading off to my local bead shop where I can run my fingers through twinkling Swarovski crystals and drape myself in strands of minerals with exotic names. If Wilma Flintstone can do it, we all can! (Although Mr. Snarky asks how I know Fred’s beloved was a crafter. I just know–Wilma can do anything plus she needs an escape from F.F.)

UPDATE: A new “something pretty” from my workshop!

Amethyst briolettes (not so pricey when purchasing two), pairs of Swarovski pearls, earring bases, oval wire earring forms, and wire for wrapping

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