Ideas for Using Fringe, Plus Free Fringed Necklace Project

May 2, 2008

On the Fringe

Fringe is a fun way to add a little pizzazz to a project. At least, that's what I've been told. I'm not much into fringe myself--it feels too fussy for my designs. But a recent discovery has had me thinking about fringe a lot lately. I'd love to say it was because I've seen the light and been converted to a fringe-lovin' fool, but in truth, it's all because of the color brown.

When organizing my box of seed beads recently, I discovered that I had no less than 10 tubes of brown seed beads. If you have a huge seed bead collection, that's not a big deal. But for me, that's maybe 20% of my little collection. (I actually wrote on my last bead shopping list "NO BROWN BEADS" just in case I had a sudden case of amnesia once I entered the bead shop.) How can I start using these brown beads up and making room for some other colors? My logical brain came up with: brown = tree branches = branch fringe. Yes, not the most creative leap of beading genius that I've ever had, but there you go.

This Week's Free Project


The Beader's Companion lists six different types of fringe: plain knotted fringe, simple fringe, branch fringe, looped fringed, netted fringe, and twisted fringe. Simple fringe and branch fringe seem to be used the most often. This week's free project, Dragonfly's Garden by Julia Watt, uses simple fringe near the pendant as well as to embellish some flowers. You can see an illustration of simple fringe in the techniques section of Beading Daily.

Download This Free Project: Dragonfly's Garden by Julia Watt

This free project is courtesy Beadwork magazine. Check out the preview of the June/July 2008 issue!

More Projects with Fringe

Here are a few more fringed projects to inspire you. Of course, using pink or blue beads is not a requirement for fringe! It just happened that all the examples I pulled were in those two colors. Isn't that odd?

 Plus de Rouge
Merle Berelowitz
   Fringed Peyote Bottle
Jean Campbell


Cherry Blossom Earrings (free)
JoAnn Allard


Twigs and Branches (free)
Pat Wexelblat

Instructor Tip: Creative Uses for Fringe

Beading Instructor Perie Brown has used fringe in a number of her designs. I asked Perie for some creative ideas on how to use fringe and she had these great suggestions:

  • Use fringe selectively on your design. "I have used fringe on a bracelet with a colorblock design, placing fringe only in selected blocks, rather than all over. This adds interest and texture."
  • Use fringe in a different color than the background. "This makes the fringe less dense, so that the background color shows too. Beautiful effect."

Perie will be teaching at Bead Expo Phoenix this weekend and Bead Expo Philadelphia in August.

What do you think?

What types of fringe do you like best? Or you an anti-fringe person? I have heard that fringe takes a long time--and may or may not be worth the effort. What do you think? Share your thoughts on the website.

Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have questions or comments for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please post them here on the website. Thanks!


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on May 16, 2008 2:32 PM


I'm fairly anti-fringe. I think in general wearing a fuzzy caterpillar around your neck is a bad idea. However I think that coralling, which is technically a fringe technique, makes beautiful earrings. Netted fringe also I don't find too offensive. But stuff like diamond brick stitched earrings with long fringe? Uggh, that just makes my skin crawl. :)

Comment by: carrie w | May 2, 2008

My friend and I took a class to make a Swars bracelet. The teacher gave us Fireline for thread. Three days later mine broke and my friend's broke after a couple of weeks. What should we have used instead?

Comment by: D K | May 2, 2008

I am also fairly anti-fringe. It is a lot of work and usually just looks messy. A fringed bottle or a touch of fringe on a purse that is used occaisionally is about the most I care for. My experience is that it requires an enormous amount of work and doesn't hold up very well - much the same as DK. I would also be interested in knowing if there is a better alternative to use for the wire.

Comment by: Lara B | May 2, 2008

Swars crystals can cut into thread whether it be Fireline or a different material. I would suggest using a higher pound test of fireline, double stringing it or weaving back through the crystals a few times to put less pressure on a single strand.

Comment by: Jessica G | May 2, 2008

I do love fringy bracelets! I do not care for it as much on necklaces, or even on purses or earrings, but I think a smaller object such as a bracelet is not overwhelming. Although it is time consuming, the repetition can be soothing (while watching tv or a movie of course!!). Funny because I am currently working on a branchy fringe bracelet design in honor of the leaves that are very slooooowly emerging around here!

Comment by: | May 2, 2008

Bead a short tube in peyote or square stitch, fluff it up with fringe and voila! a wonderful custom-made spacer bead. Fringe adds sparkle, dimension & personality in your choice of beads. Kati

Comment by: Kati S | May 2, 2008

I love the long fringe on Commanche Weave earrings. I may be a senior citizen, but they continue to be my favorite style of earrings, and I continue to make and wear them. I am a K-4 school librarian through the RSVP program, and the young ladies in my library think they are great! They often ask me to bead for them. If there weren't so many of them, I would gladly do it.

Comment by: Diane S | May 2, 2008

I on't really care for fringe. To me it can cheapen a design. I prefer a little class to my projects,and to me fringe isn't where its at.

Comment by: TERRY N | May 2, 2008

When I read that you were trying to find a use for brown seed beads I immediately thought of the new Swarovski Color Mocca. You could use some in conjunction with some Mocca colored crystals, brown is rumored to be the new black so a monochromatic piece might be a very good accessory.

Comment by: Pam M | May 2, 2008

I'm a big fan of fringe at the bottom of pendants on longer necklaces -- but for myself rather than most necklaces I make to sell. I love the tactile feeling of having a soft fringe to run between my fingers and fiddle with. I also love to wrap branch fringe around beaded necklaces for a very organic look, or too soften a color combination or bead combination that's too harsh.

Comment by: | May 2, 2008

I've never been a fan of fringe beading but your dragonfly pendant with fringe is marvelous. I am currently working with pmc and beads and wire wrapping and see where I can use this technique to make some of my designs "sing". I am a new member, thanks alot for the idea. BeBe of tucson

Comment by: Beverly E. B | May 2, 2008

i love your column Michelle, thank you.If you can get the balance right, with colour length and density, I think fring can look great on a piece of jewelery. And how long they last depends on where you wear them. I have made my mum, lovely gemstone and various beaded bracelets, and sometimes she brings them back broken, only to find out she has been wearing all her bling working at her allotment (vegatable garden) or mucking out her ponys stables!!. So I do avoid giving her anything with a fringe!. I am not a fast beader either so fringe does take me quite a while to do, But you don't have to stick to seed beads for fringe either.

Comment by: samantha e | May 3, 2008

Oops, I meant FRINGE not fring, ha ha....

Comment by: samantha e | May 3, 2008

I love texture, so I often add fringe to flat seed bead bracelets. One of my favorites is to add looped fringe, continuing the pattern in the bracelet cuff. I love the way fringe feels on my wrist when I wear these bracelets, and it gives the pattern "life."

Comment by: Karen N | May 3, 2008

Fringe can complete a design began in the body or it can be off center rather than the standard center point or straight across. I use it in straps to continue an idea I used in the base beading. Looping fringe, using drops and daggers and having it on top of a beaded base can add also. I made a branch and had fringe with leaves all over it...jungle look. So it is like many other technics, used in the right project. I have some uses on my site. Enjoy beading.

Comment by: Sally M | May 3, 2008

Sorry, I'm very new to beading. I have done beading only for a month now and I'm not sure I understand, what fringe beading is, so I don't think I will use this technique yet. But, it is interesting how strongly folks seem to feel about it. I am very consumed by the need to bead, in fact I rather be beading than submitting this comment. But, I will continue to read and enjoy the comments of my fellow beaders.

Comment by: consuelo a | May 3, 2008

Well-designed fringe can add that extra punch to a piece of jewelry. I'm partial to netted fringe, and coralling, and the kind of fringe done with beading wire and larger beads like pearls and crystals. Fringe on amulet bags or purses is nice to look at, but it wouldn't last with a household like mine of 4 cats and 3 birds. Only my dog respects my beadwork. The other pets think of fringe as an invitation to play.

Comment by: Karo - Bead Poetry | May 4, 2008

Fringe! Ugh! Or that is what I usually think when viewing some designs. However, I have very recently decided that fringe, used in strict moderation as an accent, does have its place in my beading experience. The problem with most fringe is that it looks nice when the project is laying flat (like for a photograph) but becomes a tangled mess and detracts from the piece when actually being worn. - Jo Ann

Comment by: Jo Ann R | May 4, 2008

i hate fringe. it's just so busy. but i do admit to seeing one piece i liked--it was a sculpture of a weeping willow. all the branches were fringed. it was gorgeous. other than that i say 'just say no to fringe.'

Comment by: beth e | May 4, 2008

Hi. I'm new to the site, but I just wanted to say that I actually like fringe - now. It took a long time to grow on me because it's time consuming and if used too much, it makes a piece look cluttered. Now I've started graduating the size from seed beads to small crystals, and using that as my fringe. It gives a piece a unique look. And it does wonders for crazy quilt blocks too!

Comment by: Gail G | May 4, 2008

I am fairly new to beading and the first time I saw branched fringe on a piece of jewelry was on the back of a Fire Mountain Gems catalog. It knocked my socks off! I think designs with fringe are often gallery worthy and I love the texture and classiness they can add to the right design. Sometimes less just isn't more!

Comment by: Sally S | May 4, 2008

I enjoy incorporating fringe into my free form peyote stitched pieces, and it's a technique that really requires a lot of practice to perfect. I think it's a fun thing to add to the right piece for added movement and color. But then, I like funky jewelry with lots of hidden elements!

Comment by: goddessjoy | May 4, 2008

I love the way fringe looks and feels. Unfortunately I find it tedious to make, so few of my designs (so far) feature it.

Comment by: Catherine B | May 5, 2008

Anti-fringe. It's tedious to make, and sometimes it's unnecessary. HOWEVER, there are times when fringe is needed to make a piece look finished. I'll make it then, but with much grumbling.

Comment by: Amy K | May 5, 2008

I stitch a lot of smaller needlework pieces in which I make banners for my back door. I love to accent the bottom of the banner with beaded fringe. Or bottom of stitched ornaments, etc. Not neccesarily on my jewelry.

Comment by: | May 5, 2008

I rather like fringes, particularly if they move well and suit the piece. They need to tie in to the overall design, I don;t like them if they stand out too much!


Comment by: jean m | May 5, 2008

I love fringe and use it anywhere and everywhere. I do not just put it on the bottom but have it going assymetrically down one side of a necklace offset with wieght on the other side to balance.

Comment by: | May 8, 2008

Karo-Bead Pottery mentioned fringe done with wire. I'd love to see an example of that. I absolutely love fringe used sparingly between larger beads. Especially if it is made out of 15's....its so delicate and adds a real touch of class and added value IMHO.

Michelle, I've just recently been reviewing the blog and I really love your hints and comments. I'm getting lots of education and ideas from this site. Please keep up the good work. Its wonderful that people who love jewelry design as much as I do are willing to share so freely!

Comment by: Sandra J | May 9, 2008

souls2 wrote
on Jul 10, 2008 7:48 PM

I love fringe!! I put fringe on many of my pieces.  Must be the era I grew up in. :)


Zaz wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 8:53 AM
thank you michelle for taking us from the dragonfly's garden to this series of projects on "how to use fringe". when i first tried beading we did a swap and i remember mamking earrings with nothing but leaf fringes all strung in a certain way. i cannot find the printed project not the source.