While making this project, I took a very fluid approach rather than one set in stone. I changed my firsthand plan several times and improvised a lot! Originally I only wanted to make earrings but the texture and color of those denim feathers turned out to be so nice that I couldn't resist the temptation to made necklace as well!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- A piece of denim approximately 6 by 9 inches,
- Sewing machine.
- Brown thread.
- Permanent markers (various colors).
- Mod Podge all-purpose glue.
- Mod Podge dishwasher safe gloss glue, sealant, and finish.
- Gold Paint.
- A ruler.
- A pencil.
- A brush.
- Small cup for glue.
- Lever-Back Earrings.
- Crimp Beads.
- Toggle Clasp
- A couple of Circle Links.
- Jump rings.
- Jewelry cord.
- Wire cutters.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Varicose large hole beads.
Step 2: Know Your Denim
Please note that denim fabric is made most of the time from threads of two colors - warp thread of a usually dark blue and weft thread of a usually light blue color (almost white). It is important to understand that if you remove warp thread (blue) you will end up with white-colored threads and vice versa.
Step 3: Mark Your Denim
I drew two oval shapes 1 inch long and two 1 1/2 inches long. They are all somewhat different because I wanted to experiment and find out which shape will work the best (spoiler: it turns out that each has its own advantage).
Fold paper in half along middle line of your drawing and cut it out.
Mark lines on the denim. I marked some lines parallel to the warp and some perpendicular because I wanted to see which color (blue or white) will work better.
Step 4: Sew
Use the sewing machine with small stitch settings. You need those stitches be small enough to hold denim threads together but not too small so that they don't tear the denim.
Sew four times on each marked line back and forth.
These seams are going to be your feather shafts.
Step 5: Mark Feathers
Mark your feathers using permanent blue marker.
Note that you need to leave 2 - 2 1/2 inches between feathers - you will need these threads to attach the feathers to earrings.
Step 6: Color
Color two-three pairs of feathers with permanent marker on the back of the denim - just for the fun of it.
Step 7: Cut
Cut the shapes out of the fabric.
Cut as close to the seams as possible without cutting the thread!
Step 8: Make Feathers
Remove threads that run parallel to feather shaft. Pluck them carefully and if you come across a stubborn one that is stuck snip it close to the shaft.
Step 9: Glue
After I removed all threads I found out that the feathers do not hold their "feathery" shape very well because the threads that were left were short.
So I brushed them with glue and hung them to dry. After glue dries a little, but not completely you may bend the feathers to your preferred shape.
Let them dry fully afterwards.
Step 10: Never Ever!
Never ever dip your brush in your glue vessel if you use it on fabric! Never! Small filaments will stick to your brush and then will transfer to your glue! Instead, pour some glue into a small cup and dip your brush there.
Step 11: Experimenting
I tried to use permanent gold marker on some feathers and it turned out that it does not fair well under glue.
Then I tried to apply glue on the feather, the gold marker just smudged all over it. So I wiped it off as best as possible and then painted the whole feather with gold paint.
On that note I also decided to add some gold paint to the tips of the dark blue feathers.
After the paint dried I applied dishwasher safe Mod Podge. I wanted the end product to be waterproof and the glossy finish caused the regular denim thread to look more porcelain-like.
Step 12: Adding Beads and Forming Loops on Feathers
Now, using regular thread that has been folded several times pull the stem through a large-holed bead and form a loop on top.
Put something metal, like a nail or a knitting needle, through the loop and tighten the stem around it. Now dab some glue under the loose end of the stem to moisten the fabric and thread. Snip the stem a couple of millimeters from the bead and add some more glue. Then, smooth remaining stem.
Let it dry.
Using a toothpick apply some glue onto the loop. After the glue has dried gently rotate the feather to loosen up the glue and slide it from the nail or knitting needle.
Step 13: Earrings
Using pliers gently open up the earring ring, slide the feather loop into the opening, and close it. Ta da! Your earrings are ready!
Step 14: Unexpected Complication
On two different feathers, the stems ripped off while I was trying to pull them through the beads (the holes were probably smaller than on the others beads).
What to do?!
Cut the stem close to the feather, gently poke a hole in it and put the jump ring through the hole. Now you may attach it to the earings or use in other similar projects, such as a necklace that I made.
Note: when working with your stemless feathers, make the hole at the end of the feather, as shown in Pic. 5.
Step 15: Necklace
After I finished the earrings I couldn't bring myself to put away the leftover feathers. You know how it often happens - you put something away for later use and never get around to actually using it again because so many new interesting ideas are waiting to be brought to life?
So I made a necklace from them.
Cut from pieces with lengths 8, 8 1/2, and 9 inches from the jewelry cord, as well as 2 5-inch pieces.
Using crimp beads attach the cord to the circle link (pics. 2,3,4) starting from the shortest and finishing with the longest.
Now add beads and feathers on longest one.
Add some beads on the two others cords following your desired design.
Attach all three strings to the other circle link using crimp beads.
Now add 5 inch strings to each circle link and finish by adding toggle clasps (Pics. 12, 13 and 14).
I had one feather left so I added a jump ring to it and attached it to the ring part of the toggle clasp.
Step 16: End Results
I ended up with three pairs of earrings and one complete set of earrings and a necklace.
I hope you enjoyed the journey as I did and that you will share the creations that you have made with the help of this Instructable!