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DIY: Upcycled Accessories

By Aldona Bird 

 You’ve made the garden bucket caddy from last week, and you’re about to throw out the leftover small scraps of jeans — wait! You can upcycle even small pieces.

 Small scraps of denim can be used to patch other pairs of jeans and denim items, make patchwork fabric and even jewelry. Follow this DIY to learn to make your next favorite pair of earrings for yourself or as a gift for a friend.

 To make denim jewelry you will need: 

  • Denim scraps 
  • Earring hooks 
  • Thread 
  • Beads (optional, but recommended) 
  • Scissors 
  • Glue 

 The first step is to cut strips of different sizes and other shapes, and play around with folding, twisting and layering the fabric in different ways to inspire your own creative design. Mix different colors of denim with different beads to see what combinations you like.

 If experimenting with scraps doesn’t get the creativity flowing, try one of these patterns to get started: 

 To make simple layered earrings cut petal shapes in different sizes out of your denim scraps. You can try one petal, or as many as you like. If you only have one color denim, try alternating sides with each petal to highlight the color difference.

 With a paint brush, dab a light layer of glue around the edges of the cutouts so they do not unravel. Use a glue that will dry clear. If it darkens the edges a little, it will add a nice appearance of depth.

 Fold the tops of the petals to create a tuck, contouring the fabric. Using a matching color of thread, stitch the tuck to hold it in place. Add a bead on top and then your earring fixture. You can also add a chain to make the earring dangle lower or any other jewelry fixtures that you like.

 To make denim tassels, first cut a wide strip of fabric. Decide if you prefer white tassel threads or blue. Whichever you choose, start pulling the other color out from the edges. If the threads are difficult to pull out, use a needle to scoot one or two threads out at the corner to make them easier to grab.

 Once you’ve removed enough cross threads to make your tassel threads as long as you like, roll your strip of fabric up and sew it together. If it is wider than you like, trim to adjust. 

You can pull threads out from a long strip and then cut it in half to make two tassels at once. To neaten the finished tassel, before rolling, fold the top and sides in so those edges will be enclosed.

 Make the fabric above the tassel as long or short as you like. Add a bead and earring hook on top.

 Use the same method to create a fringe, simply remove fewer threads. Create a fringe on opposite edges, leaving a thin strip of fabric in the middle and sew the narrower ends together to make a hoop or tear drop shaped earring.

 This is a great craft to do while watching TV or listening to a podcast or audio book. Make extra pairs of earrings and save them to gift. If you don’t wear earrings or want to make them into a present for someone who doesn’t, you can use these same patterns (or create your own) to make bag decorations, key chains or other items.

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