I thought that I would share this little tutorial on how to make felt beads. They’re really easy to make and are also a great way to use up little scraps of felt.
Older children will be able to make these for themselves, or you could make up a bagful of these, for little ones to lace onto necklaces.
I always keep even the tiniest scraps of felt, from any of our craft projects. They often prove to be useful as an eye or nose for something. With my daughter’s birthday coming up, I wanted to make her some jewellery, but our modest birthday budget, was quickly used up buying three beautiful books to inspire her. Over the years, I have come to realise that there are always resources around, if you look for them. I remembered making a few fabric beads, several years ago, just as an experiment – so I got out the scraps!
The beads that I had made before, were quite time consuming and although I have got a lot quicker at working over the years, I knew that I would have to simplify them a bit. After all, I have lots of other birthday presents to make out of scraps and not a lot of time to do it.
I have made paper beads with my kids in the past. You may have too – the ones where you get a long triangle of paper, glue it and roll it around a cocktail stick. I thought that this would work well with felt, minus the glue!
So here’s what you will need……….
-Lots of little felt scraps
-Something to wrap them around (I used a wooden kebab stick)
That’s it, we’re keeping it simple here!
Begin, by cutting your felt scraps into a long triangle shape, without the point at the top (as shown). I made mine approx. 5cm long.
Thread your needle with some embroidery floss (2 strands will be plenty) and knot the end. It’s good to use contrasting colours for the stitching, it makes the beads more decorative.
Starting with the fat end of the triangle, wrap it tightly around your stick.
If you find it a bit fiddly, pop a pin in to hold it together, while you make the first couple of stitches.
I just held it, because once you have done the first two or three stitches, it’s secure anyway.
Push the needle inside the bead, by the stick, coming out at the top of the triangle (as shown below). This will hide the knotted end inside.
I have used blanket stitch for mine, it’s one of my favourite stitches and I use it a lot. It gives a nice neat edge. If you’re not very confident with a needle, you could just use running stitch or whip stitch.
If you want to use blanket stitch, as I have, here’s how.
Insert the needle into the felt (making sure to catch the second layer of felt, as well as the top layer), about 3mm from the edge.
Bring the needle back out at the edge, just in front of the thread (as shown below). It helps to keep the length of thread to the left as you’re working and to work from right to left, along the edge that you want to secure.
Draw the needle all of the way through and then put the thread back over to the left, ready to start your next stitch.
Okay, back to the beads!
Use about three stitches to secure the top edge. Now it’s all held together, and easier to work with. I skipped the corner and continued working blanket stitch along one edge, right the way round the bead.
If you have enough thread left, just finish your blanket stitch row and bring the needle back out at the opposite side of the bead (shown above). Then work blanket stitch, back round the bead, until you get back to where you started.
If you’re running low on thread, just knot a knew piece and insert the needle inside the bead as before, coming out on the unstitched side.
When you want to knot your thread to finish off your stitching, push the needle behind the last stitch, pull it through to make a small loop. Then, put the needle through the loop and pull tight.
You can do this twice to make it really secure.
Then push the needle into the felt right next to your knot, going through all of the layers and coming out inside the bead.
You can slip it off the stick to cut the threads short inside the bead, (be careful not to cut any stitches!).
You could just leave the beads like this, but I would suggest adding some more decorative stitches around the middle of the bead. It helps to slip it back on the stick for this.
The decoration is really up to you. Use your creativity. You could make them all different, you might stitch on some seed beads or sequins, for a bit of sparkle.
If you want to make them exactly like mine, here’s how to do the stitch that I used.
As before, bring the needle through from the inside of the bead (to hide the knot), coming out, where you want to begin the stitch.
Next insert the needle back into the felt, adjacent to where you began and about 4mm apart.
Pull most of the thread through, but stop when you have a little loop.
Bring the needle back through the felt, where you want the point of the stitch to be, (we’re making a V shape).
Pull the thread through, making sure to have passed the needle through that loop.
It’s good to note here, that these stitches are only decorative – so you only need to sew through the top layer of felt.
To complete the stitch, push the needle back into the felt, just the other side of the V’s point and come out in the middle of the V.
Finally, make one running stitch up to the V’s point.
I hope that makes sense! It is really hard to describe stitching in words without it sounding really complicated. Just follow the photos and you should be fine!
Trim any thread ends from the holes of your bead and your done.
It’s a nice little project to have on the go. Make up a little basket with felt triangles, thread etc and just do a couple here and there when you have time. They mount up quite quickly, it only took me a couple of evenings to complete this necklace – stitching while I watched programs about permaculture gardening.
Oh, and this is how the finished necklace turned out. The cloud pendant is a logo that my daughter designed, for a series of books that she is writing and a mobile bakery, that she wants to have when she is older.