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Monday, October 17, 2011

a trip down memory lane...

Do you remember those long car journeys as a child spent with a bit of old knicker elastic pulled up around your thighs securing thread so that you could make a friendship bracelet? No? Maybe that was just me and my sister.

A while ago I had an idea for a fabric bracelet and as I made it, it reminded me of that little childhood love of mine. I loved making friendship bracelets and no trip to my Nana's was ever complete without visiting the local indoor market where there was an endless - to a ten year old - supply of thread. Even to this day I still feel a sense of child-like excitement walking into any habadashery or craft shop.

But I have gone off track, so let's get back to the bracelet in question. I tried quite a few different versions of this with different materials and I loved how the same pattern could look so different depending on what materials were used. My first attempt was with cotton fabric however I found it frayed. a. lot. Whilst I quite like the 'rustic' look, I also did not want to be leaving a trail of thread behind me wherever I went. So I went back to the drawing board and remembered a reel of lace that was languishing in my cupboard. I love how the lace gives it a really soft and romantic effect.Unfortunately I made this bracelet before the idea for the blackberry grove blog was born so I don't have any pictures of this particular bracelet in progress. 

The 'how to' bit

What you need:
6x 40cm strands of lace (2cm wide)
6x 50cm strands of ribbon (0.5cm wide)
Needle and thread
A pair of dexterous hands ( not essential but it helps!)

Something important I found while making the bracelets is that the middle plait should be made with material that is thinner than the outer plaits, otherwise the middle plait tends to swallow up the bracelet. Since the ribbon I used was so thin I decided to make it more prominent by using 6 strands. I found this to be much more effective than using a thicker ribbon.

1) Loosely secure 3 strands of lace by tying a knot (not too tight as this will need to be undone later) and weave into a plait. Weave away until the plait is about 1-2cm short of your wrist measurement. Again, secure with a knot. Repeat this process with the remaining three strands of lace and put the two resulting plaits to one side.

2) Tie the six strands of ribbon together and divide into three sections. Weave into a tight plait until it is about 7cm long.

3) Now this is the fiddly bit but it is well worth it. This is also the part which tests my explanation for the sanity of all, here's a picture:
As I don't have any pictures of the lace bracelet in progress, let's pretend that this grey material is in fact lace.

Now if you were to continue the plait as normal, strand 'A' would be the next ribbon to be plaited. Instead, thread 'A' through the first weave of one of the lace plaits. Now take the ribbon which would be next to be plaited (B) and thread this through the second lace plait. 

4) Now cross 'A' over 'C' and thread 'A' into the weave below which 'B' is threaded and 'C' into the second weave of the left plait. I know it sounds complicated but the picture demonstrates that it is actually really simple!

5) Continue to weave the ribbon as you would in a normal plait but just make sure that you thread through each section of the lace plaits as you go. Pull the ribbon tight regularly to keep the components of the bracelet tight together.

(This photo also demonstrates well what happens when the middle strands are a similar width to the outer strands - you can barely see the plait on the left side)

6) When you reach the end of the lace plaits, continue to plait the ribbon another 7cm (to match the beginning plait) and secure with a knot.

7) Now the tidying up begins! Get your needle and thread ready and choose an end to start with. untie the two lace plaits and pinch together under the ribbon plait. Slightly twist the two plaits together and fold the fabric over.

Now sew your thread through the fabric with a starting stitch ( feel free to enlighten me on what the correct name is for that stitch...I just made that one up but I'm sure you know what I mean!) or tie a knot to make it secure and sew the lace together. As this bracelet was being made for me I cheated a little and after securing the lace together I wrapped the thread around the end of the bracelet multiple times to pull the lace close together and make it look neater from a distance. and after securing the thread again with that stitch, cut the thread.
And there you have it, one pretty bracelet to wear again and again.

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