Introduction: Embroidered Fabric Cuff Bracelet
Like many sewers or quilters, I have a ton of fabric scraps stashed away that are too small to make a garment out of, but I hate to see go to waste. Save your scraps and reuse them with this quick, fun project. I was inspired by some long, skinny strips of flannel left over from a quilt and thought, these would make a great bracelet!
I'm a fan of cuff bracelets since they're kind of boho chic and casual, and since this one is made with fabric it's light, flexible, and great to wear anywhere. This is a great way to try out a new embroidery stitch or show off your favorite fabric print, or just to have a small and portable project for a commute or rainy day.
Even if you're not a sewer or don't own a sewing machine and have only a needle and thread, don't worry! This is easy to do by hand and the materials are inexpensive.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You will need:
• Fabric - cotton, flannel, felt; any sturdy, non-stretchy fabric that can withstand an iron will do (see notes below)
• Embroidery thread in your favorite colors
• Tapestry needle or other needle with an eye big enough to accommodate your embroidery thread
• One 1/2" to 3/4" button
• 3-4 inches of 1/8" round elastic
• Ruler (not pictured)
• Sewing thread (not pictured)
• Iron (not pictured)
• Lightweight fusible interfacing
• Rotary cutter, cutting mat, and clear ruler (not pictured)
• Thimble (not pictured)
• Sewing machine or serger (not pictured)
• Disappearing ink fabric marker, chalk, or pencil
How much fabric do you need? If it's long enough to go around your wrist with about 1" of overlap and is about 1" wider than you want your finished bracelet to be, it will do. If you want to incorporate parts of the fabric pattern into your design, you may need more.
Note: If you do not have fabric at home, ask a crafty friend if they want to donate some scraps. If you're boldly going into new territory and your friends don't have fabric scraps, your local fabric store should have fabric remnants (generally less than one yard of fabric, perfect for small projects), and craft and quilting stores often have "fat quarters" (a quarter yard cut in a special way) of fabric which are great as well. Ask your friendly neighborhood fabric store employee for help.
You don't even need to use new fabric. You can also recycle an old, worn-out shirt, pants, pillowcase, apron, etc. Try thrift stores for good deals. You're limited only by your imagination!
Step 2: Measure and Cut Fabric
Now's the time to figure out how big you want your bracelet to be when it's all done. To those measurements, we'll add 1/4" of seam allowance for each edge, or a total of 1/2" in each direction.
Length: If you already have a similar bracelet that fits you well, go ahead and measure its length (my bracelet is 7" long) and then add 1/2" to that measurement. This will be the length of the fabric pieces you will need to cut.
Width: Decide how wide you want your bracelet to be (mine is 1.5" wide), and add 1/2" to that measurement. This will be the width of the fabric pieces.
Cut two rectangles of the dimensions you determined out of your fabric. My pieces are 2" by 7.5". If you have a rotary cutter, use that, it will make this part a breeze. If not, just mark the fabric with a pencil and a ruler and cut away!
Cut one rectangle this same size out of interfacing.
Do you really need interfacing? If your fabric is thin or delicate, I recommend using it so that the stitches won't pull through and distort the fabric, and to give the finished bracelet a bit more structure. If you're using lightweight denim, twill, or felt, you probably won't need it.
Step 3: Prepare the Fabric for Embroidery
Decide which of your two fabric pieces will be the one you want to embroider. The other one will become the lining of the bracelet; set it aside for now.
Heat up your iron to the hottest heat setting your fabric can withstand. Meanwhile, figure out which is the wrong side of your fabric (the side that looks less bright, less appealing, or the one you don't want facing out on your finished piece), and place your fabric wrong-side up on an ironing board or other firm, protected surface.
One side of the interfacing should have little bumps of sticky adhesive. Put the interfacing onto the fabric, with the bumpy side facing the wrong side of the fabric. Iron the interfacing to the fabric, until it has fused all over. (If the interfacing sticks to the iron instead of the fabric, the bumps were facing up, not facing the wrong side of the fabric. Unplug the iron, remove the interfacing, let it cool, and wipe any adhesive off the iron, cut a new piece, and try again!)
Now take your disappearing ink fabric marker, chalk, or pencil, and mark the design onto your fabric. You can add details to elements already appearing in the fabric pattern, or add contrasting elements. It's all up to you!
Step 4: Time to Embroider!
Thread your needle and go to town! Since the item is so small it will probably be difficult to use an embroidery hoop, so just hold the fabric taut between your fingers as you go.
I've used a split stitch (backstitch) and chain stitch for this bracelet. Another thing that might have looked cool, but which I didn't include in this design, is a satin stitch over some of the dots.
Check out this great Instructable on how to embroider for some basic stitches if you've never done embroidery before! www.instructables.com/id/Embroidery-101/
Step 5: Cut and Position Elastic
Form the elastic into a loop, pinching the base of the loop with your fingers. This creates the button loop; you're aiming for a tight fit around the button when the elastic is sewn into place. This is not an exact science, but if you're in doubt you can make the loop on the small side since the elastic will stretch.
Hold the loop up to the edge of the un-embroidered fabric to check placement. Put the button on top of the loop to make sure the button edges cover the loop - this will ensure the button will hold the loop in place.
You can tack the elastic in place with a few stitches here and there to keep it from moving around. I didn't do this, and I wish I had, because my loop wound up being slightly looser than I'd have liked!
Cut off any excess elastic, leaving about 1/2" extending beyond the edge of the fabric.
Step 6: Pin Together and Stitch
Take your embroidered piece and place it face down (right sides together) over the un-embroidered piece. Using small straight pins (or even safety pins if that's all you have), pin the pieces together.
You will have the two little elastic tails sticking out on one short side; the rest of the loop should be sandwiched between the two pieces. If you have never sewn before this might be odd to you, but just trust me, this is correct. :)
Now, stitch around three of the sides with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving the short side without the elastic un-stitched. I used a serger with a 4-thread overlock, which has two rows of stitches going around the edge and is nice and strong.
If you are using a conventional sewing machine or sewing by hand, you should add another row of stitches along the short edge with the elastic to help secure it in place.
If you are hand-stitching, I recommend a backstitch or something similar for the best results; it is sturdier than a running stitch.
Step 7: Turn Right-side Out and Press
You've stitched on the wrong side, so now it is time to turn your bracelet right-side out. This will be a little tricky, since it is skinny and narrow, but with a little patience it will turn out just fine.
Start at the open end, sticking your fingers inside and folding the edge out to make a cuff, like you might cuff a sock or a pair of pants. Bit by bit, increase the size of the cuff, shimmying the un-stitched edge closer to the other short edge.
Once it is mostly turned, use a knitting needle, pencil, chopstick, or other pointed implement of your choice to poke the corners and get them nice and square. Flatten as much as you can, though it may still resemble a puffy little tube. This is okay.
Now, flip your bracelet over to the non-embroidered side, and lightly iron. This way, when you press, you don't flatten your stitches. Flip back over and admire your handiwork.
Your bracelet is really starting to look like a bracelet now!
Step 8: Turn in Open End and Topstitch
Now we need to deal with that open end. Just like you did when you turned the bracelet right-side out, you'll make a small cuff, but this time turn it to the inside. Turn in about 1/4", since that is the size of your seam allowance. Use your iron to press this fold so that it doesn't spring open.
If you've done it right, it should look like the rest of the bracelet, but it just hasn't been stitched yet.
Now, go back to your sewing machine, serger, or needle and thread and topstitch around the entire bracelet, about 1/8" away from the edge. I used white thread and my serger's chain stitch, but you could select another color for contrast and/or use a more decorative machine stitch. If you're hand-stitching, you could use more embroidery thread to create a cool topstitched border that works together with the design - it's up to you!
Step 9: Sew on the Button and You're Done!
Lap the ends of the bracelet together, with the elastic loop extending over the other end. Center the button over the loop and note the placement.
I pinned the ends of the bracelet together so it would line up without me having to hold it in place (and for a nicer picture), but this is not necessary.
Sew the button on with needle and thread, using a matching or coordinating color thread, and you're done! Wear your new bracelet with pride, or give it as a gift to someone special!
Need more ideas and challenges?
• Try crocheting or knitting the bracelet instead of making it from fabric, and then embellish with embroidery and a button.
• Incorporate more buttons for decoration or for a multi-sized bracelet
• Use fabric markers or fabric paint on plain fabric to create your own pattern, and then optionally embroider before making into a bracelet (mixed-media!)
• Use a safety pin or punk pin to close instead of the button-and-loop closure. (This is actually how I originally closed the green bracelet - the elastic and button were added later.)