A couple months ago, I read this post by Jessica Jones at How About Orange, one of my very favorite DIY/craft blogs. She does a lot of simple, beautiful origami projects, and introduced me to one of my favorite products, fabric stiffener. (She uses Stiffen Stuff in that post, but I strongly prefer Aleen’s Stiffen Quik.)
From her post, I created this fabric necklace (and many, many more).
She mentions at the end of that this paper project could be tried with stiffened fabric, which I started thinking as soon as I saw that first picture. So here’s my take on her lovely project. The fabric used here is one that Jessica designed, Skiff in Dusk (that link is where I got it). It’s home decor weight, which means it’s as sturdy as a canvas. I’ve also made these with quilter’s weight cotton and t-shirt jersey.
I started by stiffening my fabric. Stiffener can be built up gradually, but I found that one coat worked for my quilter’s weight cotton and this canvas. Jersey, I applied two layers and it never really got stiff enough to hold a fold, but a cut-up t-shirt turned out crisp and soft after one application.
Also, I’m a total cheater, and I put my fabric in the oven for ~5 minutes at 200. Just give it a quick iron to smooth out the waves.
Use a rotary cutter to cut out three 2.5″ squares. (I can’t imagine getting such straight squares with scissors. Rotary cutter and mat are among my favorite crafting purchases.)
Apply Fray Check to the edges, to prevent them from unraveling while you’re folding and gluing. Fray Check’s label reads like it’s radioactive, and it smells like it causes cancer, and you probably don’t want to get a lot on your fingers?
I take off the pointy tip, pour out a line on a saucer I don’t care about (once it dries, it peels off, but I won’t use it for food anymore, but this was already chipped and thus not food-safe), and gently dip all four edges of the square, one at a time, wiping off any drips. The good thing about this stuff is that it doesn’t dry sticky. I’ve tried Aleen’s anti-fray stuff, and destroyed a bunch of stiffened, cut squares because it all stuck together when I tried to fold it.
Once dry, start folding. I folded in half, pretty side out, then folded up, then back down, then flipped–well, you know how to do a fan fold, right?
You’ll do that three times.
Fold in half, and apply a thin layer of Liquid Stitch on the inside angle. (Do you know Liquid Stitch? I use it on half the clothes I buy from Old Navy to fix hems. It’s washable and permanent!) If you’re doing a pair of earrings, you’d want to slide on a large jump ring before the glue. You want to make sure the glue covers the fabric evenly and edge-to-edge.
Press together and secure for a few minutes.
When you separate them, make sure each fold is separated from the fold next to it. You’ll have some time when the glue is still damp to pull them apart if they’re stuck together.
Glue together, alternating up and down.
To attach the chain, I folded a 2″ piece of silver-plated wire in half and looped it through the end of the chain. I glued it into the end fold with Liquid Stitch. This makes the fold flatter than if you glued the chain right into it, though neither is really that noticeable.
The thing I LOVE about this project is that you never really know what a fabric is going to look like as fans until you do it for the first time. I love how this one creates an attention-grabbing yellow necklace with rays of turquoise and brown painted through. I’ve found that fabrics with just a 2-3 different colors work best, though there have been a few multi-colored ones that turned out really nicely.
Attach the lobster clasp and final jump ring, and you’re done! Go celebrate.
Psst, we’re also offering versions of this necklace for sale in our Etsy shop.