Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vintage Rhinestone Bracelet Knock-Off

Hello out there once again, and today I'm rather proud to be sharing perhaps my first very own creatively inspired knock off tutorial. Now my 'knock off' is pretty much of the design and layout of the bracelet I'm about to share with you, but there are changes, such as color and a few upcycle choices. So, no, I'm not going to be trying to hawk this off as an original, please breathe easy. Well, time for the inspiration!

Vintage Rhinestone Bracelet found at Barneys... for $600

Now, I fell in love with this vintage-esque inspiration, and the fact that it all looked like elements I could realistically replicate. My issue, is the fact that this is advertised, as in fact, rhinestones. And yet...they are insisting upon selling it for six hundred dollars. Please tell me if I'm way off base in wondering why this would be able to be sold for that much? Though perhaps that's the point that it's still in their online store, though it happens to be 'one of a kind'. Regardless. Moving on!

Now I took it upon myself, for my design, to up-cycle, because I thoroughly enjoy the concept. Once again, I dipped into the cache of craft tidbits and delights that my sister forked over to me that contained all her jewelry making bits and baubles. My mother also contributed to this fund with a long rhinestone necklace that was collecting dust and stuff in her jewelry box. So, here is how mine turned out, and I think it looks obviously similar, though again, obviously, not precisely the same. I feel the idea is still there!

Isn't it beautiful? I thoroughly enjoyed this project, well, most of it. We'll get to that part later. And really, all you need is a fwe things, most of which can be found around your house. I would say probably ninety percent, at least, was all stuff I had around my house, as a crafter. But then again, it could also be picked up at a thrift store, the jewelry pieces anyway. So. What you will need is...

I actually ended up using an old piece of chain rather than the packaged shown here.

  • Embroidery Thread/Floss (I used DMC 5 in a pale lavender color)
  • Rhinestones -already connected-(an old necklace works wonderfully)
  • Needle with big enough eye to work with embroidery thread
  • Some fashion of rhinestone design for bottom layer
  • chain (clasps if needed)
  • Small scraps of lace

So! With all of this, the original sells for six hundred dollars. To pull off my look a like fashion, which I quite enjoy I might add, I paid a grand total of $1.59! I'd say that's a pretty good bargain, how about you? Now, I know that it will be a bit more for those of us who choose to buy some of the ingredients fresh so to speak, but I strongly encourage up-cycling a few old necklaces that never get worn, old costume jewelry works great! I'm also looking forwards to seeing more designs come from this hopefully! (if there really is any followers out there).

All right, to begin. I'm going to warn you right now of the hazards of embroidery thread. It was a thorough pain in my ass. I am a self proclaimed newby at all this crafty goodness, especially when it comes to create it yourself and not from a tutorial. So this was the first time I worked with many of my supplies today, including that damned embroidery thread. It came in this one big loop, and I thought, foolishly, to just snip the one string holding it together, and unwind it some, so I could measure it exactly how I wanted to before cutting it. THIS WAS A MISTAKE! It dissolved from that pretty purple spiral up in that picture, down to a snarled clustered mess in only about thirty seconds. I am still mystified as to how I did this. But it happened, and my husband proved his right to sainthood once more. He sat down on the floor with me, and we worked for two hours. Not kidding. TWO HOURS. To untangle that one long thread. It was infuriating to me, but my husband fondly calls it a 'bonding experience', and 'one big puzzle he had a good time with'. Yeah.. My husband.. saint.

BUT! Now that I have that out of my system, let's move onto the actual creation of our exciting piece, shall we?

Okay, first, I'm going to want you to take a measurement of your wrist. Give yourself a little wiggle room. Then we're going to do a mild calculation here. I had to perfect this as I went, and I still messed it up a touch, but I'm still happy with my results. So fret not, screw ups can always either be fixed or still look great. So, once you have your measurement of your wrist, complete this quick calculation.
Wrist measurement + 3 inches + (how long you want your tale end x 2)

Now that times two bit part is where I messed up. But, it still turned out pretty nice. That plus three inches is for when you braid your thread, it's about how much you lose. Now that you have that measurement, you're going to want to spool up your thread for lack of a better term. Basically, make a new loop, or somehow figure out how to measure it from the loop provided, but I'm just telling you how I did it. My husband got roped, perhaps literally, into helping me again. So, here was my process.

First we measured out one length of the thread (mine was about twelve inches), then I had him put his two pointer fingers on either side, and wrapped it around them, forming two sets of thirty strings. I looked at the picture to derive the guesstimation there, about how much the original showed, and it worked out well for me, thus making ten threads per section of braid. And two braids. This ended up in a braid about 3/8" wide. So that should give you a slight gauge, and you can adjust how you see fit.

So, after measuring it out, and counting a few times to make sure, since I'm a firm believer of count twice cut once, and then my vaguely neurotic tendencies encourage count four times and cut once, we cut the two ends, and wound up with two neat piles of thirty count a piece.

After that, it was time to braid. Measure off about how much tail you decided on, and what I did, was add a little hot glue to keep the three groups separate and more manageable, since I only have so many hands. This resulted in my inaugural burn from my new glue gun! My husband piped up from the background helpfully "Oh so now you know it's yours, right?". He's a peach. What worked for me with the binding process was to twist it between my fingers like the picture here..

I've no idea how this turned upside down.

Then add a daub of hot glue, wait for it to cool some, and then spreading it around the circumference with my fingertip and/or the tip of my gun. It worked really well for me and made the project easier, and I'm all about that.


After that, I wrapped a piece of thread around the end a few times to bind it off and make it look pretty, then proceeded to braid.

Voila! End product.

After this, which is perhaps the most time consuming of the project, which tells you that this project isn't too terribly difficult, thus begins the layering. From here on out, basically you are just adding layers of the bracelet. I started with sewing the two braids together using the same embroidery floss with a simple whip stitch. (I hope that's right, just a simple quick stitch, that's what my mom calls it).


Okay. Moving on. First, we're going to grab our spare bit of chain we have laying around. I honestly would believe every woman has some kind of bit of chain that she no longer uses laying around her house at some point or another. Just gotta dig it out. But anyway, the trickiest part about the rest of this project is making sure things line up as you'd like them to, and getting started. or at least it was for me. Because I don't really know how one would use pins or anything like that, so mine was just a grab and pray method, and starting was the only bit I had an issue with. My suggestion is starting a loop and pull it most the way in towards your connection point, and then slipping in your chain, rhinestones, etc, and tugging tight. That was my most successful play. Also, quick tip, bandaids? Make awesome makeshift thimbles. Just saying.

I used the embroidery thread to connect the chain and bottom braid (yes this is the time to figure out which one you want on top or bottom, doesn't really matter, just taste). Also, make sure you leave a bit longer chain than your braid, mainly because that's what it looked like on the picture to me, and also it lets your pretty little tails dangle a bit easier. That second picture is just the best way I found how to hold things, so the weight wouldn't drag at the stitching and everything was secure and lined up.


Next, fetch yourself your rhinestone necklace. Seriously, I advise scoping out some thrift shop, perhaps a dollar tree, walmart? We couldn't find one at walmart, but maybe yours will be better. Because I checked at Joann's, and they want nearly thirty dollars a yard for a strand of those puppies. So yes, a refurbished necklace is great. You'll also need some lace scraps. I made do with what I had, though if I'd had the choice, I would have probably done something a bit more muted. My scraps were about a quarter inch wide, and hat seemed to work well. Also, messy seams are fine, they give it that whole kind of vintage distressed feeling.

Start with securing one or two rhinestones to the end of your bracelet, which I used regular thread now to attach, and sewed through the chain and between the stones. After you have a nice start, you're going to work in your lace, which takes a little manuevering, but it's not needing to be perfect. You're basically going to play with it until you get the look you like, and for me that included either letting it be a backdrop for the rhinestones, and sewing with it behind, or twisting it around for a few flashes. It's not hard, just takes a bit of time and thought on how you would like it to look, and going after it.

Clip off your rhinestones where your bracelet ends, and continue with the next row, following the same procedure with a new piece of lace. A tip of mine is the fact that I've yet to run into a jewelry project of mine, albeit they have been few and far between and not very complex, where I could not get away with using my nail clippers and tweezers as my jeweler accessories. That's what I used this entire project as well, and it suited me just fine. Warning, using your nail clippers can leave little chips in the blades, but I am always losing them, so at any one point I usually have two or three laying around, so I'm not too concerned.

After this is where my project kind of deviated from the original sketch, so to speak. I didn't have any other rhinestones available to me, so I decided that I had enough, I'd just add two more rows of the original I was using. This came after a long thought of whether to run outdoors, screaming that there was a rhinestone crisis happening in my apartment, and/or going to goodwill to see if I could find some more. But since I value my apartment, and didn't have a ride, I opted for the path of least resistance. I still like the way it turned out.

So, continuing, switch back to your embroidery thread, and attach another row of rhinestones. If you're following more precisely to the inspiration, this is where you'd start your bigger variety. To follow the styling, I looped one stitch between every rhinestone, and yes, it's a smidge time consuming, but in the end, I enjoyed the way it looked. I also sewed to the lace of the row prior, not to the rhinestones themselves, thinking this would be easier and look a bit better.

After clipping the end and repositioning the next row, do the same thing, though to further enhance the replica, I stitched back over the previous row, in addition to sewing on my new row. So one big stitch between the opening of rhinestones between both rows. I hope that makes sense. Here's what I came up with.

The last layer of the bracelet is a personal touch that you decide on. I suggest an old or broken necklace, which is what I found. It was actually what I based the design around. It was a broken piece that I had found in the box that my sister gave me, and I fell in love with it when I saw it. I've been ruminating over it for some time now, wondering what I could do with it. And opportunity presented itself! Now this might be better if you have a length the full girth of your bracelet, but I worked with what I had, so I lined it up, and then attached it, using regular thread, though I think embroidery thread wouldn't have looked much different since I looped it through several times. I also left the v of it unsewn, so it would be allowed to hang a little and leave an interesting bit of skin to be shown.

And there you have it folks! You have yourself a totally adorable new bracelet. I'm excited to wear it with a new dress I just found, seventy five percent off at Maurice's, only ten dollars. Super score there right? Here are a few pictures with it being 'modeled' har har, and I believe this is the way to wear it, or at least the way I'm choosing to. :)

As this is my first project like this, I'd really love some feedback, if there's anyone out there reading this. I plan to link it to Flamingo Toes' Think Pink Sundays, so I suspect most who might view this are from there. Anyway, again, I'd love to hear a bit of response to the design and/or tutorial!

I actually did it!

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