Why pay hundreds for a pair of beaded tassel earrings when it's easy to make your own? These Oscar de la Renta inspired beaded clip-on tassel earrings are the ultimate statement earring that's sure to get you noticed!
You'll need the following supplies for this project:
pink, red and blue seed beads
hand sewing needle
light sewing thread
dark blue embroidery thread
dark blue sewing thread
box closer cord ends
1. Bead the Tassel Strings
Cut a length of the light cotton about three times the length of your tassels. Take one pink bead and thread it on to one end of the cotton. You can use a needle to do this if you need to.
Slide the bead into the middle of the thread, and then bring both ends together. This bead will act as a stopper or crimp bead for the tassel strand.
Thread the two ends through a beading needle together.
Begin threading the beads onto the needle and thread, starting with pink, then red and then blue.
To create a transition through the colours, alternate a few beads before moving onto the next colour section.
You'll want around the same number of beads on each strand. The exact number will vary depending on the size of your beads. I did not count the beads, but roughly laid them together to make sure I was getting similar lengths.
Once you're happy with the strand, thread a crimp onto the end until it sits next to the end of the blue beads.
Using either crimping pliers or flat nose pliers, squash the crimp over the threads right next to the beads. This will stop the beads falling off the end of the threads!
Repeat these steps to make all of the strands for your tassels. You'll need 30+ (depending on how full you want the tassel) per earring.
Group them together four or five strands at a time and tie the excess cotton in a knot so that the strands line up at the bottom. Don't worry too much about the tops of the strands as these will be covered later.
Take a box clasp cord end and gather all the tied strands inside the opening. Slowly close each side over the threads using your crimping/flat nose pliers.
2. Bead the Cover: The Herringbone Stitch
Cut a length of dark blue cotton about two to three feet long, and thread onto a needle. Start threading enough blue beads onto the cotton to wrap around your tassel.
Test the length by wrapping this around your tassel and add/remove any beads as necessary.
Once you have the right number of beads, thread your needle back through all of the beads a second time. Carefully pull both ends of the thread to bring the beads together in a circle and knot together to hold in place.
You now need to start stitching the beads onto this ring. We're going to do this using a herringbone stitch. This looks a little complicated, but once you have the basic technique it's easy!
To start the next row of beads, thread one bead onto the needle.
Then thread your needle back into the first bead from the knot. Pull the needle all the way through the bead on the ring and then back through the single bead again. You're basically creating a big loop.
Pull this tight and thread another bead onto the needle.
Now take your needle back through two beads on the loop; the second bead from the knot first, and then the first one again.
Now thread your needle back through the bottom two beads again.
Keep repeating Step 4 around the whole ring (thread a bead onto the needle, and then go back on yourself through two beads on the original loop, and back through the last two beads on the new row).
Once you're done, your beads will all line up in neat rows and be very secure.
3. Decreasing the Beadwork
To allow the tassel cover to neatly fit over the tassel strands, we need to create a bell shape. This means slowly decreasing the number of beads in each row to give an even effect.
After the first couple of rows, we need to start decreasing the number of beads in each so that the cone shape will begin to materialise. Starting on the third row, sew in 19 beads, and on the 20th, instead of sewing into the next bead on the ring, miss one and go one bead ahead. Thread your needle back through three beads on the ring as shown below. Then just continue as usual.
Continue to decrease:
every 20th bead for the next three rows (rows 3-6)
every 10th bead for the next three rows (rows 7-9)
every 3rd bead for the next two rows (rows 10-11)
4. Increasing the Beadwork
To make the bobble on the top of the cone, we now need to increase the number of beads in the next few rows. Increasing is just as easy as decreasing.
Thread a bead onto your needle as usual, but instead of threading your needle through the next bead on the ring, go back one and thread the needle though the bead underneath the last one you added to the ring.
Now continue the loop as usual, taking your needle and threading the bead through the last two beads on the top row. Thread another bead and now go through what would have originally been the next bead in the loop (and the one next to it as usual). You should end up with three beads at the top for two beads at the bottom.
Don't worry if it seems a little uneven to start with. Once you continue the row, they will fit into place.
5. Make the Bobble
To make the bobble on the top of the tassel cap, we need to first increase and then decrease the number of beads in each row using the following instructions.
Increase every 3rd bead for the next three rows.
One row with 0 increase and 0 decrease.
Decrease every 3rd bead for the next two rows.
Decrease every 2nd bead for the next row.
To finish the bobble, stitch a single bead into the middle of the last ring, closing up the hole. Sew this bead to every second bead in the last ring to keep it secure.
6. Bring It All Together
Cut a piece of embroidery floss about 10 inches long, and thread one end through the box clasp cord end on your beaded tassel.
Bring the two ends together and thread through a regular sewing needle.
Thread your needle up through the centre of the tassel cap and out of the side of the bobble about three rows down.
Pull the needle and thread all the way through until the tassel fits into the cap.
Using the needle and thread, sew the tassel onto the earring. Depending on how big (and heavy) your tassel is, you may need to wrap the thread around the clip-on earring a few times. Once the earring is in place, thread the embroidery floss back through the bobble and tie off.
You now have one earring ready to go! Just go back and repeat all the steps to make the second one!
You can make these earrings in any colour combination and size you like! I've chosen to make mine big and bold, but they are heavier because of this. If you like your earrings lighter, you can make your tassels shorter and make fewer strands. The instructions will be the same.
In this tutorial we have covered basic beading techniques, using crimps, the herringbone stitch and shaping beaded forms to make tassels. Why not try making tassels for necklaces or for decorations as well? With so many tassels to make, you'd better get started right away!