Colourful soutache

Friday, May 24, 2013

Make an eye-catching piece of art using soutache cord and beads. By Agata Stankiewicz

Agata, of Fis Jewellery, is a Polish jewellery maker who started making jewellery three years ago. Before moving to Scotland she made beaded jewellery, which sparked her interest in making jewellery professionally. Agata enrolled at Carnegie College in Dunfermline in Scotland to study jewellery design, graduating in September 2012.  

The inspiration for this necklace came from the classic movie Almost Famous with Kate Hudson, which is about the hippy culture and rock music in the '60s. Agata says she loves the era, the music, the culture and the vibrant colours. The soutache technique, which is worked with a flat cord and beads, is the perfect style to complement the '60s era, as it is very colourful, striking and unique.



Cord and other jewellery making supplies:

You can also find cord on eBay or Etsy





Soutache cord 

Beads (glass, mother-of-pearl and Swarovski crystals)

Large gemstone

Invisible thread


2 x silver-plated cord ends


Clasps (heart shape)



Felt to cover the back of the necklace and the back of the stone


Designer tips

Don't use too much superglue --- the felt will go very hard which will make it very difficult to stick needles through it. Keep the glue away from your fingers, especially before touching the piece.

While adding beads, check their size to know how many times you should go through them with the thread to get a tight fit. When using beads up to 3mm you can only go through them twice, but with larger beads you may be able to go through them up to five or six times.

When you cut off the extra bits of cord you can glue the ends so the cord doesn't rip or catch on other things.



Step 1

Choose the gemstone for your main piece. Glue felt to the back of the stone, leaving roughly 1mm extra felt round the stone, to attach the cord to. Cut two 25cm (10in) lengths of yellow, orange and red. Take two lengths of yellow cord first and start sewing them together, around the stone, followed by two lengths of orange cord.



Step 2

Hide thread knots between two cords so you can't see them. Sew the cords onto the felt underneath the stone. Keep them close together so you have a good fit, but not too tightly or this will make the inner layer disappear. After going round the stone, sew all eight pieces of cord together at the top and then split them taking four to each side.



Step 3

Add another two pieces of red cord. As you sew them on, add 3mm glass beads in between. At the top of the stone, on each side - take all six pieces of cord and sew them together, bending them a little so they will fit around the shape of the bead, then add the bead. Twist the cords behind the main piece then sew them to the back of the stone and trim.  



Step 4

Add a couple more layers of cord in different colours, repeating the previous steps to extend the design. As before, go round the piece with more cord, adding small beads in between. At the top, sew through the bigger beads and twist the cord to the back, then sew to secure. Cut six pieces of different shades of blue cord and divide them to start making the two smaller soutache pieces.



Step 5

Sew the smaller pieces onto your main piece, ensuring that they are symmetrical. Attach them very tightly - your piece will become heavier with every piece added, and could come off by accident if they are not sewn on securely. Twist parts of the cord behind the main piece or add new parts on the top of previous small pieces so you are making layers. This picture shows the back of the piece.



Step 6

Keep adding more pieces in different colours. While adding a new piece, go round the previous piece with a new colour cord. It is best to make the transition where you twisted the cord to the back. Start sewing the purple cord onto the red finished piece at the back. Go around the red piece to make it look like it's just one piece - not two separate ones joined together. Go up with the cord, following the shape of the necklace.



Step 7

Add the last pieces onto both sides of the neckpiece, making sure that they are sewn tightly - the final parts hold the whole weight of the piece together. While making the last pieces, make sure that the end of the cords are at the top, then sew all pieces of cord together.



Step 8

Glue the silver-plated cord ends to the ends of the cord. Add a silver-plated chain to the piece with a lovely little heart-shape clasp at one end.



Step 9

To cover the back of your piece, place it on the sheet of felt and trace it with a pen, making sure the felt won't be visible from the front. Cut out the traced shape and glue it to the back of your piece using superglue. Ensure that every part of the felt is glued properly. Turn over and your necklace is complete.


Extra projects: Make a bracelet and a ring


This bracelet is made in exactly same technique as the necklace, just on a smaller scale. Start from the middle, glue the stone onto the felt, then pick three strips of cord and sew them round the stone. Start making little separate pieces in different colours and add them onto the piece. To finish the bracelet, add little loops made of different kind of cord (brown, round and twisted), sew them very tightly, adding jumprings and clasps at the end.



The middle piece of this ring is also made using soutache technique. It's a very small basic piece, using only two strips of cord and little Swarovski crystal beads. The piece is set in a handmade silver ring frame made of 0.7mm Sterling silver sheet, textured by little silver granules and oxidized.

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