The Nester's Complete Ultimate Guide to Making the

The Nester's Complete Ultimate Guide to Making the
Most Beautiful, Proportional, Fluffy and Full Tassels
that People Will Fight over; for You to Give or Sell
{Tassels, the most beautiful thing you'll never need}
-The Nester
***
This is the first edition of the Ultimate Tassel Guide. It was a spur of the
moment decision to try to get this ebook out quickly so forgive the lack of
cute graphics and hyperlinks. But I believe the content and photos will
more than make up for the lack of pretty fonts and emblems. When I
first started tasseling I would have paid hundreds of dollars for this
information. I hope you’ll find it beyond inspiring.
This ebook is not a quick one-tassel tutorial. I want it to cover all
aspects of tassel making, from the shopping to the selling, should you
choose to sell them. You'll learn techniques that you can build on and
ideas to add your own unique twist on your own tassels whether you are
making them for your home, giving them as gifts, or selling them. Enjoy!
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This book is dedicated to my husband,
the most encouraging man in the world.
*
©2009 The Nester: Nesting Place thenester.com
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE COPIED OR DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN
PERMISSION. IF YOU HAVE THIS FILE OR A PRINTOUT AND DID NOT PAY FOR IT YOU ARE
DEPRIVING THE AUTHOR OF HER RIGHTFUL ROYALTIES. PLEASE PAY FOR YOUR COPY
AT THENESTER.COM
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Table of Contents
My Story………………………….….page 4
The Anatomy of a Tassel……...page 14
Basic Tassel Making…………....page 35
Advance Tassel Making……....page 50
Deluxe Tassel Making….……...page 61
Other Methods…………………...page 75
For the Serious Tasseler…..….page 79
Inspiration Photos……………...page 91
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I started tasseling 7 years ago. I had purchased a tassel for a gift and realized the
colors, being purple and orange, were all wrong, and decided to see if I could
come up with a way to make my own.
After many hot glue burns, I figured out a way to create a tassel that involved
ribbon, fabric and wooden toppers. I gave tassels away as gifts and when people
continued asking for them, I sold them at local craft shows and at a popular,
quaint bakery in Greensboro, NC called Maxie B's. {Georgia font}
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In January of 2008 I thought I'd list a few leftover tassels on Etsy and I linked to
the shop on my blog, Nesting Place, that I had started two months prior. The
tassels sold and sold and sold and I hot glued and listed and bought miles of
fringe. I started making tassels because I enjoyed it and within a few months of
selling them online I was able to make a steady income selling my wares. It was a
dream job and really fun. I thoroughly enjoyed making tassels and loved that
each one had it's own personality.
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Ninety percent of the tassels I listed on Etsy sold within one week. At the time I
started selling on Etsy, I was the only one there making handmade decorative
tassels. Now, there are a whole slew of wonderful tassels for your decorating
pleasure.
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Between January 2008 and April 2009 I sold over 700 tassels on Etsy, as well as
many at Total Bliss in the Black Lion in Huntersville, NC and Moss in Savannah,
GA. As the blog grew and sales soared, I had to make a decision--I could focus on
blogging at Nesting Place or continue to make tassels. But something had to give
unless I could grow 2 more arms.
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I chose the blog, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and had a big fat sale selling 100
old tassels that I had kept over the years but didn't feel like they were good
enough to sell full price. Those 100 tassels sold out in a matter of hours and all I
had to do was ship them and be done. Or so I thought. Within a week,
DaySpring, a division of Hallmark, contacted me asking about a line of tassels
they could sell. I was thrilled and also overwhelmed. DaySpring was a company
that I loved but I had just begun to enjoy my tasseless life as a blogger.
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Of course, I couldn't resist being a part of a new online community started by
DaySpring called (in)courage. After sending prototypes, shopping for fringe at
the International Textile Market and a few more glue gun burns, we decided on a
small line of 4 different tassels that I made exclusively for DaySpring.
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Even though I enjoyed making the tassels, making lots of the same item over and
over again wasn't quite as fun. Not to mention the fact that I was wholesaling
them. It was an honor and a dream come true to sell my tassels "for real". But the
fact was, I had decided to stop months before when I could keep all the profit, I
had no reason to continue when I enjoyed it less and kept half the money. I told
DaySpring I wouldn't be able to continue despite the fact that I loved the idea.
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It is now November of 2009. I've wanted to do a tassel tutorial for ages. I've
been accused of everything from being stingy to rude for not freely giving away all
my tasseling secrets. At first I purposely did not give away all my secrets;
something about that felt wrong, knowing that our family relied on tassel money
to help with the bills. But, I've learned with each tassel tutorial posted on the
internet that tassels were only getting more popular and sales were not slowing
down. I want to share what I know so you can have fun making tassels as they
grow in popularity. Now on with the secrets!
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Disclaimer:
I believe that there is no right or wrong way to create a tassel. I'm sure
there are a zillion different methods but the goal is to have a tassel
that you love. So if you make it differently and you love it, then it's
right. Some people don't use toppers, some people use all fringe and
no ribbon, some all ribbon and no fringe. These methods are my
favorite ways to create tassels. Who knows, maybe you will invent
some tassel making machine—just don’t tell me if you do.
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The Anatomy of a Tassel
I'm totally making this up so we can discuss the different parts. It's not scientific
mkay?
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hanging rope
topper
skirt {ribbon, fringe, fabric}
branding {for me it's a Nesting Place ribbon}
embellishment {cute little something that makes it that much more
irresistible}
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The Supplies
The Glue Gun and Glue
The only glues I ever use for tasseling, or in life for that matter are high and low
melt glue guns and their glue sticks, and super glue. All of these glues dry
lightening fast, and you don't want to wait forever for glue to dry as you are
making your pretties. Plus, they are inexpensive and easy to work with. Oh, and
they hold stuff forever too.
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Most people could make all their tassels using low melt glue guns and sticks.
They melt at a lower temperature, hence the name, and don't burn as bad when
you touch the glue. Plus, if you make a mistake and don't like a certain topper on
your tassel after making it, you can usually pop off the topper, or peel off fringe or
ribbon even after the glue dries. That’s not the case with high melt glue.
I've found that high melt glue guns/sticks will hold much, much stronger than
low melt. So don't make a mistake, it's hard to pull stuff off glued with super hot
glue. They will also burn you like the dickens. Sometimes when I see that first
pump of boiling hot, molten plastic come out, I flinch. I don't use high melt with
every tassel mostly just for heavy toppers or fan pulls that might get lots of
pulling. And, if you do happen to get burned you have to train yourself to NOT
immediately wipe off the glue with your hand. I know it goes against everything
your body tells you. When you wipe the glue with your other hand you end up
spreading out the boiling glue to more parts of your vulnerable body. You'll end
up with two or three burn places. Trust me on this. If you get burned, grab a
ribbon or anything you can and wipe off the glue with that. The bright side is if
you burn off all your fingerprints and tasseling doesn't work out for you, you can
easily start robbing banks without wearing gloves.
Three paragraphs about hot glue—is that a record?
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Toppers
Toppers are my favorite part of the tassel.
Toppers are so fun to shop for but the most important part of a topper is it’s
hanging quality. Try to figure out how you can make a topper hang before you
purchase it. If the topper is made of wood or poly resin then you can drill a hole
and add a ribbon or screw in an eyelet hook. Your local hardware store should
have tiny eye hooks like what you see in the top of some figurine Christmas
ornaments.
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Here are a few ideas for toppers:
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Finials from drapery rods
Animal figurines
Christmas ornaments
Wooden eggs and blocks
Nests
Baseballs and golf balls
Lamp finials
Knobs with a hole through the middle
I stay away from ceramics and glass or anything really fragile.
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flip flop Christmas ornament from Hobby Lobby
The most common question that I get asked when it come to making tassels is
"where’s the place you get your toppers?". Wouldn't it be nice if there were a
Tassel Topper super store? The fact is tassel topper finding is like an art, a hunt if
you will. Basically, it's part of the creative process. For years, I trained myself to
always, always, be on the look out for toppers. Anything that was appealing,
paintable, the right size, and had a hole or a place for me to drill was up for
grabs. Finding inventive ways to turn an ordinary object into a topper will set
your tassels apart.
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Here are some of my favorite places to find toppers:
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The Dollar Store
Hobby Lobby
Floral shops
Woodworking supply shops
Garden Ridge
Local gift boutiques
Tuesday Morning
Michael’s Craft Store
Card shops
Christmas shops
Yard sales
Thrift stores
foam Easter egg, birdhouse ornament, poly resin lighthouse
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The second most common question I get asked is where do you find the bird
toppers? I found those two years ago at a Hobby Lobby. I loved them and
bought all I could find. Then, last year, our Olde Time Pottery started carrying
them. I bought them all, and then contacted all my friends and family and asked
them to buy every one they could find. A fellow tasseler, Heathahlee owner of
Butteryfly Genes on Etsy, found 70 birds and shipped them to me! The moral of
the story, when you find something that works well, buy all you can. The other
moral, get to know your tasseling buddies, they are worth their weight in fringe.
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Fringe
Fringe is my favorite part of the tassel.
If you choose to use fringe for your tassel, you have complete control over what
kind and how much to use. The question everyone wants answered is "how much
fringe should I buy to make a tassel?” And the answer is, it depends. It depends
on how thick the fringe is and how full you want your tassel, how big your topper
is and how many layers of fringe you want on it.
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Usually, if I have 8 inches of fringe I can do one layer of a tassel skirt, sometimes
it only takes 5 or 6 inches. But I also like to have 2 or 3 different fringes. See? It
depends. Remember, tassel making is an art, not a science. So, we have to be a
little flexible when buying materials. If you are going out to buy you some fringe
to make just one tassel find the topper first, take it with you and then, while you
are at the store, wrap different types of fringe around it and see what you like and
how much you need to buy. And I always buy a few inches more than I think I'll
need.
{pom pom fringe, brush fringe, tassel fringe, bullion fringe, looped fringe}
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There are so many different kinds of fringe: brush fringe, bullion fringe, tassel
fringe...and they come in so many different drops or widths or lengths, depending
on what you call it. Let's call it "drop" in this ebook so we won’t get it confused
with the amount or length of fringe to cut for your tassel. The drop is how far
your fringe hands down--the part you cannot control with scissors unless you
destroy the fringe. Personally, I look for longer {more than 1 inch drop} fuller
fringe. The fuller the fringe, the easier it is to work with and hide mistakes. If
you can, get as many different types and drops of fringe as possible. This will
make your life easier and your tassels prettier. You can make a tassel using one
kind of fringe {if so try to get longer/drop fringe} or 5 kinds of fringe.
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Where to buy fringe
Your local fabric stores. This is the best place to get familiar with fringe. I'm
not talking Hancock's Fabrics, although they do offer a small amount of fringe.
Look in your phone book for fabric stores, the kind where designers go. Ask your
friends who sew where to find good fringe. Decorator's fabric places have all sorts
of up to date, high-end fringes. And they will be expensive. But, you can start
here and see and feel all the fringes. And if you are just making one or two
tassels, buy 9 inches of 3 or 4 things and see how you like it. Also, many of the
fabric stores will keep remnants of fringe. Remnants are perfect for a tasseler. As
long as you have 6 inches, you can probably incorporate it into a tassel.
Remnants are a great way to get your hands on top-of-the-line, high-end, and
unique fringes for a fraction of the price--usually 50-75% off retail. Ask your local
fabric store if they have any fringe remnants.
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Hobby Lobby and Other Chains. Most fabric chains have a fringe and trim
section. Hobby Lobby offers a 40% off coupon often enough that you can use that
on one cut of fringe. I like to utilize Hobby Lobby for their looped bullion fringe
in blue and black and their off white cotton bullion--fringes that I can add to and
make look more fancy with other fringes.
ebay. You might have to buy larger quantities but they'll be at lower prices per
yard when you buy from eBay. I bought a 50 yard spool 3 years ago and I'm not
even halfway through it, it cost me $30. The downside, of course, you cannot see
the color or feel the quality. But, for filler fringe, for the inner skirt of the tassel,
this can be a cost saver. And if the fringe is thin, you can double or triple it to
make it look thicker.
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Etsy. Search "fringe" under supplies. Some of my most favorite fringe has come
from Etsy. Plus, say you order something from eBay and hate it, you can sell it on
Etsy.
Friends who sew. Let your friends know what you are making and ask if they
can save any fringe for you. Most sewers can't stand to throw away good
remnants; odds are they have a bag of fringe pieces lying around right now.
Tag sales/Craigslist/Goodwill. I have found some great fringe second hand.
I've been known to buy a bed skirt simply so I can rip off the fringe. If you see a
pillow for $1 that has beautiful fringe, buy it and tear it apart. Our local Habitat
Restore has a section for fabrics and such--sometimes they have pretty stuff. Just
smell it first to make sure it's not musty.
For the serious tasseler:
Try to diversify where you buy your fringe. Sure, Hobby Lobby carries a small
variety but if you are selling something, you don't want all your supplies to be
from Hobby Lobby or any one store. Use a few fringes from one store, the best
deal you can get and then mix it with fringes from other stores. The more unique
and high quality your fringe is, the prettier your tassels will be and the more
profit you can make.
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Ribbon
Ribbon is my favorite part of the tassel.
Ribbon is a great way to add more color and texture into your tassels. You will
for sure need the skinny ribbon for your hanging rope but any other ribbon is
optional. When I buy tassel ribbon, I shop with my heart. If I love a ribbon and
it's a good price, I buy it. I usually don't have a tassel design in mind that I look
for a specific ribbon for. However, if you were only making one tassel, I would
start with the topper, then find fringe, THEN get coordinating ribbon. It's easier
to find ribbon to go with certain fringe than find fringe to go with a ribbon.
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You can get ribbon at all the same places that are listed under “Where to buy
fringe.” Be on the lookout for anything unique--velvet ribbon looks really
luxurious, coordinating ribbons in different widths, beautiful patterns. Watch
out for printed ribbon that is white on the back--that can make a tassel look
cheap.
I like wired ribbon if I need a wide width because I can shape it and if it gets
smashed, I can reshape it.
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Embellishments
Embellishments are my favorite part of the tassel.
Embellishments serve two purposes, to add to the charm of a tassel, and/or to
hide any flaws.
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Some of my favorite embellishments are:
beads
small pretend berries
pretend flowers
pretend little fruits
nuts
tiny pine cones
shells
acorns
charms
buttons
scrapbook stuff--the scrapbook isle has tons of inspiration
crystals
game pieces
broken jewelry parts
nuts, bolts & brads
pom poms or a single tassel cut from tassel fringe
trinkets {go to the isle with the miniature tree decorations for lots of ideas}
wooden letters for initials
ribbon
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faux greenery used as an embellishment
Embellishments can be added up at the hanging rope {threading a bead onto the
ribbon or adding a charm up there}, at the body of the tassel to hide any
mistakes, in with the body of the tassel tucked away like a treasure, or hanging
underneath the skirt.
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See that brown stuff in the middle up there? Filler.
Filler
Filler is the little dirty secret of tassels. Not my favorite part.
Sometimes you can turn fringe into circles until the cows come home and all you
are doing is using up high dollar material that will never been seen because you'll
be gluing another layer of fringe on top of it. In order to have super fat tassels
that are in proportion with their toppers, there are times when you might need
some kind of filler to bulk up the innards.
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Types of fillers
yarn {I like chenille—I’ll show you some in an upcoming tutorial}
fabric
ribbon
wood dowel sliced up, candle cups seem to be popular but I've never used them,
wooden blocks
ugly fringe that you hate
That’s it! Let’s make a tassel!
All righty, now that we are using the same words and you know about the
supplies, let's make a simple small tassel so you can master the methods and
move on up to super duper gloriously wonderful tassels.
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Basic Tassel Making
Here the items that we are using for the most basic tassel:
1. assorted fat and full fringe {I used 7 inches plus another 5 inches for this one it's got a
drop of about 2 inches}
2. coordinating ribbon in different styles and widths {scraps work great for tassels}
3. sharp scissors
4. glue gun {high or low melt, I used low for this project} and glue sticks
5. tassel topper {I used a small metal ornament from Hobby Lobby complete with a built
in loop for hanging}
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Here's a close up of the topper. It's only about an inch and a half tall. {And praise the
good Lord in Heaven it all ready has a place for the top ribbon!
See how this fringe is super fat and full? It's pure black, looped chenille fringe from
Hobby Lobby. $4.99 per yard plus 40% off with a coupon. A great deal. Fat fringe is
the tasseler's friend.
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Here's the basic move for tasseling--roll and glue, roll and glue. I don't cut my fringe
until I've rolled what I think will be enough. If you want to buy enough fringe for only
one tassel that can be a little tricky. Just allow yourself a few inches extra. You'll want
to have your topper first so you can roll the fringe up in the store and guesstimate how
much fringe you need.
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After rolling and gluing 7 inches of fringe, I thought it looked like enough. See how it
looks like a spiral of fringe tightly glued together? That’s what you want.
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Temporarily set the topper on top just to get a feel of how it looks. Looks like enough,
right?
Cut the fringe. No worries, tassels are super forgiving if you make a mistake.
{can I tell you how annoying it is that I cannot get the photos to be the same size?
forgive me?}
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Now glob on a huge amount of hot glue. If the topper is really heavy, use high melt hot
glue for extra strength. I used low melt for this one.
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And plop your topper on. The great thing about hot glue is that it will be strong enough
that you can hold the tassel in the air and look at it. If it's crooked, you've got a good 15
seconds to remove the topper and adjust if needed without adding any more glue.
Wait! Trouble…this tassel looks wimpy and not fat enough for what I like. If you like it
at this point you can stop with the fringe. In my opinion, most people make their tassels
way too skinny, long and anorexic looking. But that's a personal choice. And me, I have
skinny tassel phobia. If you feel your tassel looks too skinny, add another layer of
fringe. And another... I'm addicted to lots of fringe so there is no stopping here for me.
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No problem, I just did a little experiment and held one extra layer of fringe on to see how
I liked it. Oh, it looks really nice. I'm going to add more.
Just put you some more hot glue {there's no rule as to where as long as the fringe sticks}
and add one last layer.
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See how full and lovely? Oh, and grab your scissors and cut those long strings off.
Add a length of coordinating skinny ribbon--$2 at any craft store. I used about 13 inches
of ribbon tied in a knot so it can be adjusted depending on where it's hung. Don't you
dare measure 13 inches of ribbon. Just eyeball it. Fold some ribbon in half and see what
looks long enough for you to tie it in a knot and hang it where you want it.
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Now for the super fun part, accessorizing your accessory. Grab whatever other fringe
you have around and play with it. Warning, do not start gluing aimlessly. Wrap a few
options around and hold it in place with your hand and see what you like. I thought I
might use this white pom pom fringe but now that I'm holding it in place, I don't like it as
much. That's part of the beauty of having lots of fringe to choose from. Sometimes you
might think three fringes look great together--and they do. But when it comes time to put
them together on the tassel, if they are all the same length, you might have trouble.
Try different ribbons. Knot them to see how they hang.
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no thumbs were harmed in the making of this tassel
I think I'm gonna go with the solid black with the white tiny pom pom edges. Cut a
length of ribbon and knot the ribbon in the middle. Fold the ribbon in half at each end
and snip a slanted line to make a perfect "V" cut. Some people heat seal their ribbons
after they cut it so they won’t fray. I’ve never heat-sealed.
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And then using your glue gun, glue it right to the fringe. Now again, it does not matter if
you put the glue on the ribbon and then stick it on or put the glue on the fringe, and then
stick the ribbon on. There is no wrong way to glue this. This is also a great time to hide
any flaws. I've got a gluey place where my fringe came together. So I'm making sure to
cover it with this ribbon knot.
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I noticed that I can still see glue on either side of my black ribbon. Yuck. No one wants
to see my glue marks. So I knotted some skinnier, gingham ribbon and pushed the knot
in next to the black knot on the right side. You can angle this ribbon so it sticks up and
down or more to the sides. The more you push the knot in, the more the ribbon will stick
out away from the tassel. Do the same on the left side. Half of the embellishments on
my tassel come as a result of me trying to hide flaws. Don't get discouraged!
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The finished tassel. Sweet as can be. Nice and proportional with coordinating fringe and
ribbon. It took me about 8 minutes to make this little darling {not counting gathering of
supplies at the stores and in the house and taking photos} and what a great gift!
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Advanced Tassel Making
Now that you know the basic skills needed when tasseling: roll and glue and cutting the
"V" in the ribbon. Let's build on that and make a more advanced, layered tassel.
Here I've got a snowman Christmas ornament that cost me $5.99 but I got it at half price
for $3. He's already got an eyehook in him since he's an ornament so we can start making
him a tassel skirt. Poor fella.
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First, I just play around with fringe I have and hold it around the topper with my hands.
Mostly, I'm looking for the longest drop for the base fringe first since that can be the
hardest to work in. If you only have fringe with a 1 inch drop, you will have short,
unproportional tassels. Also, if your fringe is 8 inches long for the drop {heaven help
you} your tassel will be long and weak. I found this 3.5 inch drop red bullion fringe and
thought I'd carry out the theme of bright colors. Remember, you want to include a
variety of fringe widths if possible.
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Using the roll and hot glue method, I made the base of the skirt. See all that glue mess
where I ended it? I put that at the back. Notice that I didn't just roll this bullion fringe
around one or two times, I rolled about 12 inches worth around and around. This will
ensure a full fat base, no skinny tassel for us.
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I started at the back so I could hide my start finish line easier, I added some 1.5 inch drop
pink brush fringe. I know you are thinking that you don’t like red and pink together. But
look at his hat—he’s already wearing red and pink!
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Now, here's a little trick. Say you want to add some pom pom fringe over the other two
layers of fringe. But wait, the layers of the other fringes are so thick that the green fringe
doesn't hide the top of the pink fringe. There's an app for that.
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Actually, all you have to do is raise the green fringe about 1/4 of an inch when you glue
it. Stay with me. Also, before you glue, make sure you have centered a pom pom right
in the very front of your tassel. You can still meet the edges in the back but I like to start
my glue in the front so I have control over where the center pom pom is.
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Now that your top fringe is on and sticking up all weird like, run a line of glue around the
base of the tassel topper and fold the top of the fringe down so it covers all the ugly. I do
about a half an inch at a time and hold it with my fingers until it's dry--about 15seconds.
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See how pretty that turned out, you still get lots of fat fringe, but you don't have to see all
the tops of each kind of fringe poking out around the base of the topper.
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Now let's address that crack in the hind end, I mean, place where all the glue and fringe
meets. This is where you get to be extra creative. I'm going to add a bow and a pom
pom. Because, what male snowman doesn’t want a bow and pom to match his skirt? You
could tie a knot and simply add that, or some other embellishment. Or, you could just
glue neat and not have to hide it. Sometimes I do that too.
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I cut that pom pom away and glued it on top of the ribbon. It's those extra touches that
make a handmade item ever so charming.
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And here's the finished product. By using the roll and glue method and layering, and a
few other things that I don't have cute names for, we created this whimsical tassel.
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Deluxe Tassel Making
Ok, we are moving right a long! Let's take it up a notch and make a deluxe tassel shall
we? You now know how to roll and glue, embellish with ribbon, choose fringes for
layers, and hide some imperfections. Next, let’s make a beautiful birdhouse tassel.
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Here's what you need:
Chenille Yarn
Fringes in different drops
Birdhouse topper {a plant pick that I broke off the steak}
Ribbon
Hot Glue
Super Glue
Wooden Skewer
Drill and skinny drill bit
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First, drill a hold in the top of the birdhouse.
Then cut a length of skinny ribbon for the hanging rope. Your length will depend on
your tassel, mine is about 14 inches long. Next, tie a knot in the middle of your skinny
ribbon.
Now squeeze some super glue in the hole.
Grab the skewer and use it to shove the knotted part of the ribbon down into the hole. To
me the knot helps give the glue more to grab onto.
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This is the sneaky part. Filler.
Just start wrapping that yarn around your hand. If you need to be precise you can cut
some cardboard, but I use my hand. The fluffier you want your tassel, the more yarn you
want to use. I might have gone around 30 or so times.
Cut a length of yarn so you can tie your little filler bundle off.
Pull that little length of yarn through the bundle {I leave the bundle on my hand and just
push the yarn through} and then knot it up. You just want to tie the looped fringe off so
it will all stay together. You'll end up with this furry weird looking thing. This is the
base for your tassel skirt.
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Load up the topper with hot glue {high or low, your choice}.
And pop her on. This unruly mound of chocolate brown will become the filler base of
the tassel skirt. Kind of like a crinoline for a wedding gown. While you wait a minute for
the glue to dry you can make yourself a toaster strudel or iced coffee.
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If I were smart I would have told you to use that time to find some coordinating ribbon.
But I like snacks and ribbon finding doesn't take that long. Find some ribbon you like
and fold it over to form a loop. I pick a length and hold it up to the base of the topper to
see if I like it. Once you find a length you like {I wanted the ribbon to fall about an inch
lower than the yarn} cut it. For this tassel, the idea is to HIDE the filler yarn, so just
make sure your ribbon falls longer than the yarn.
Now cut four more pieces of ribbon the same size. Now, you can do whatever you want
with this ribbon. You could not loop it and cut a "V" in the end if you want it to lay
flatter. If you use wired ribbon then you can make it as poofy as you like. You could
also use strips of fabric instead of ribbon--maybe fabric cut with pinking shears.
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Pick up your glue gun and glue the ends of each ribbon together to form 4 loops. Glue the
insides together.
Using hot glue let's attach this ribbon to the base of the topper or the top of the filler--you
get to pick where you want it. Again, we use hot glue because it dries fast, holds well
and, if you are using low melt and make a mistake, you can peel the ribbon off and re
attach it, no one will know what lies under there.
If you use even numbers of ribbon it can make your life easier.
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See how the ribbons are evenly spaced around the topper? Four ribbons are nice but don't
completely cover the filler. I'm adding four more in a coordinating color, and I made
them a tad longer too. You could add 8 more or 12 more...it's your tassel. If you hate it,
you can take it apart. From the top you can tell all the ribbon is evenly spaced. It's
overlapped at the top but that makes it fuller at the end.
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I think some chocolate brown ribbon would look nice. Since we don't need the fullness
anymore, I think I'll just do a single length of ribbon and cut a "V". Glue the brown
ribbon evenly around the tassel.
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Now for the even funner part. You get to add some fringe. I mean, why not? I love
fringe, I love ribbon, I want it all. Don't just go grabbing the first fringe you see and glue
it on. Test out the situation and hold the fringe in place around the tassel and see what
you like. I love the long tassel fringe the best. But any would work.
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This long ropey tassel fringe has a tendency to fray when it's cut. One time I made a cut,
turned around to grab my glue gun and 6 inches were unraveled before I could catch it.
So, I seal it before I cut it. I'll start gluing at one end--see how I didn't even remove the
tape they used at the fabric store? No one will see that. Now that the one end is secured,
I can wrap it around and see where I need to make the cut. Then I run some hot glue on
both sides of the fringe before I cut it. Let it dry. Now, when I go to cut the fringe it's all
sealed with glue and won't fray all over the place.
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Let’s add some looped ribbon fringe too. Don't skimp on your fringe. The tassel fringe
was about $15 per yard {but I bought a remnant at 50% off} and the ribbon fringe was
$9. I used about 8 inches of the tassel fringe and about 9 of the ribbon fringe. That's
about $4 worth of fringe and it makes the tassel look like a million bucks.
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Lastly, add an embellishment. I'm the Nester, so naturally, I like nests. If you sell your
tassels you'll want to consider some type of branding for your embellishment.
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TaDa. A beautiful, FULL, proportional, charming, hand made, high end tassel.
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A few more methods
Double tassels on a rope.
These tassels can be used as curtain tiebacks or simply wrapped around a candlestick or
the back of a chair. Use silky rope that is available in the trim department. Cut it to the
desired length and then use the roll and glue method around each end to start the tassel
shape. I start at the very end of the rope and build the tassel up from there adding 1-4
layers of fringe.
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Embellished premade tassel
If you have a premade tassel that is wimpy, you can add a few layers of fringe to it for a
little tassel makeover. I bought these from Tuesday Morning and added 3 layers of fringe
and some ribbon.
For the serious tasseler:
If you choose to embellish tassel forms, make sure your customers know what they are
getting. Always disclose they are premade tassels that you embellished.
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Ceiling fan tassel
Be on the look out for ceiling fan tassels that you can embellish. This tassel started out as
a skinny tassel on a chain. I added layers of fringe and now it's all about itself. You can
find ceiling fan pulls at Lowe's Depot and Tuesday Morning and add fringe to those to
create a fan pull tassel.
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Tassels as Gifts
If you are making tasssels for gifts use the same color family--neutrals are nice, that way
you can use the same fringe/ribbon/toppers and such without having to buy 80 different
types of fringe. I also like to include a tag that somehow lets the receiver know it's a
tassel. One time I gave one of my first tassels to a friend but I wasn't there to tell her
what it was. A few days later I got a card thanking me for the "decorative duster". Poor
thing. We laughed and laughed about that. She told me how she and her husband
worried themselves to death trying to figure out what in the world it was that I gave her.
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For The Serious Tasseler
A special section for those who sell or would like to sell their tassels
Tassel making can be a fun hobby but it can also be an enjoyable business. If you think
you’d like to sell your tassels, I’ve gathered up some tips from my experience for you.
What's a tassel worth?
Like everything in life, something is worth what people are willing to pay for it. Some
things that can affect how much your tassels are worth are:
small details and embellishments
quality of fringe and other materials
size
supply and demand (if there are 20 tassels on Etsy similar to yours, the chances of selling
yours at the highest price goes down)
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Coming up with designs
If you are selling tassels then you are held to a little higher standard than the people who
make them for fun. Most likely, if you sell your tassels it means you really enjoy the
process of making them and coming up with fun ways to express yourself and use your
supplies. I consider tasseling an art form. A touchy subject is replicating someone else's
design. Remember those 30 plus tasselers on etsy? I'm sure they would love for you to
look at their tassels and get inspired. But if someone makes something that one of those
tasselers feel is a replica of what they are selling, and tries to sell it too, they just might
take it personal. So feel free to look at all the tassels out there and get inspired, but don't
use the exact same topper, fringe and ribbon as someone else and try to sell it. Who
would want to do that anyway? The funnest part of tasseling is finding unique
combinations of toppers, fringes and ribbon--the possibilities are truly endless!
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Since we are on the topic of finding unique combinations of toppers and fringes, lets take
it a little further. If you are selling your tassels, it is to your great advantage to hunt for
fringe that is beautiful and rare. If you are using high end remnants manufactured by a
small local company, chances are your tassels will look more unique and well made.
And, by avoiding using fringe that comes from one big accessible store, other people's
tassels will not look similar to yours simply because you don't shop at the same places.
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Speaking of using materials from all one store, a few months ago there was a great
discussion about Etsy at Brooklyn Limestone {here’s the link since my ebook is from
1836 and has no links:
http://www.brooklynlimestone.com/2009/09/very-etsy-halloween.html
Somehow the discussion led to tassels and this is one of the comments:
Need I say more?
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Branding
Take your tassels one step further by branding them. Do something that sets them apart or
that identifies them as yours. Lula Belle Tassels all have a crystal hanging down from
under the skirt. It's their signature and helps identify the brand. I used printed ribbon
with the words Nesting Place to brand my tassels. Maybe you will add a certain silver
charm, a trinket tucked into the skirt, a hand painted finial or give away a Hershey's Bar
with your tassels. Maybe you package your tassels in a fun, unexpected way like how
Nonnie Waller packages her cakes. One Edtsy seller included coordinating gift bags with
her tassels--a fantastic idea. Go the extra mile to make your tassels one of a kind,
irresistible, and unmistakably yours.
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Where to Sell your Wares
Local Shows
So you’ve become a wiz at making tassels and have developed your own unique twist
and style. Every lamp and knob in your home is occupied with a tassel and your friends
are bragging about the tassel gifts they’ve received from you. Maybe you should start
selling them.
My advice is to start local. And more than local, some place where you know the
shoppers like a church festival or school bazaar or something like that. My first tassels
sales came from the fall festival at my boy’s school. There’s nothing like being able to
talk to people {that you know} about your tassels and hear what they have to say and
what they are looking for. It will help you understand the clientele and you’ll probably
even get some sales and maybe some custom orders. Plus it’s nice to practice with
people you know. Use any profits for supplies for the next show. And don’t buy
anything from anyone else. That’s my own personal rule. If I allow myself to start
looking at other people’s booths, and talk about trading our goods, before I know it, my
inventory is half gone.
If you get good feedback at your stomping ground, branch out a little more. I’d be
careful to pay a huge fee to get into a Christmas show at the arena at this point. But try a
few other local shows with fees you can afford to loose if you don’t make any money.
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The venue and people it attracts will have a major affect on your sales. I have found if
people walk up to my booth and say “oh tassels!” then it will be a good night. If I have to
explain what they are to everyone, I can forget having many sales. I’ve had shows where
I came home with less money than I started with {but the pampered chef girl had her
muffin stones on SALE!} and I’ve had shows where I’ve brought in over $1000. It takes
a while to learn which shows will fit your craft but once you find them, you can go back
year after year. And no matter what the outcome, it has always been worth the trouble to
do every show, if I didn’t sell much; I usually came home with information about an
upcoming show or a contact that turned out to be a huge help.
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Gift Boutiques
I’m positive there are some lovely gift boutiques close to you. Pack up your most
beloved beauties and drop in and see if the owner is there. If the shop is small, most
likely the owner is there more than she would like. Tell her you are a local artist and you
would love to show her your handmade decorative tassels if she has a minute or can make
an appointment.
There are usually some shop owners who have a soft spot for featuring local artists. See
if you can leave a few items with her for consignment. I’ve consigned for anywhere
between a 50-100% markup. Decide before hand what you are willing to part with your
tassels for. And remember, sometimes just the simple fact that your tassels are hanging
in a certain shop can give your business a little name recognition and authority when it
comes to telling others where they can find your tassels.
If your tassels sell well while under consignment, usually the owner will want to buy
them outright from you. At this point, it’s usually a wholesale deal meaning you split
the retail price 50/50. But, I’ve known some shop owners {the one’s with the soft spot
for local artists} who will go 30/70 with you getting the largest cut. Since tassels are
small and don’t take up much room and can usually be worked into any store, you might
be able to work out a deal that is mutually beneficial.
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Etsy
Etsy is the self-proclaimed place to buy and sell all things handmade, online. An Etsy
shop is simple to set up and you can start selling your items immediately. From what I
can figure, there are three steps to getting sales on Etsy. I’ll explain them further on the
next page.
Make unique, irresistible wares
Get people to your Etsy shop
Don’t hinder sales with poor photography and bad pricing
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1. Make unique, irresistible wares
I’ve done all I can to help you with this one
2. Get people to your Etsy shop
If you have a blog, make sure you link to your Etsy shop. Make an Etsy mini {a little
widget that shows tiny photos and links to your shop} in your Etsy account and put it in a
prominent place in your sidebar.
Put your Etsy address on tags for your tassels that you sell at shows, as well as on your
business cards. Once you set up your Etsy shop, your address will be
“yourshopname.etsy.com” which makes it really easy to remember.
Advertise on blogs, but not on your brother in law’s blog where he talks about flyfishing. Advertise where you think people who would like your tassels hang out. Maybe
you have a friend who would trade your Etsy button for a button space on her blog.
Blogs are the perfect place to get the word out because they are filled with people who
like you, are not afraid of their computer and won’t be worried about purchasing online.
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3. Don’t hinder sales by using bad photos and bad prices
Spend some time on Etsy looking at photos. The best ones use pure, white light without
yellow or dark shadows and make use of interesting angles. The Storque, Etsy’s blog,
has some great photo tips that you can find by searching “photo how-to”.
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As far as pricing, start a little low and see what happens. Most of us love our tassels and
believe they are priceless works of art. But it’s better to start by pricing your items a
little low and if they all sell out in the first hour, you know you can mark them up the
next time around. It’s always worse to start high and then have to lower your price.
Tassel Buying
What? Let's face it, as fun as it is to make your own tassels, sometimes you may want to
buy a tassel premade. For unembellished premade tassels I look at Tuesday Morning and
on ebay. But if you want the prettiest tassels of all, you need to buy handmade and
support some of the great women in business. For handmade tassels, my favorite tasseler
is Heathahlee, from butterflygenes.etsy.com. She loves tasseling and makes beautiful
tassels. She's the girl I call when I have extra supplies. Since I decided not to focus on
making tassels, I wanted to get rid of all my wonderful fringes and toppers and Heathalee
was the girl I trusted with it. Stop by her Etsy shop and say hello.
I hope all of your tasseling dreams come true! Thanks for reading and I'll leave you with
a few more photos of tassels for inspiration!
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As you look at these photos try to identify the different supplies and methods. Look for
layering of different fringes and the drops of the fringe, embellishments, ribbon use,
topper styles, and what you are drawn to. You might think my tassels are the ugliest
things you’ve ever seen, but maybe they will inspire you to come up with something
amazing.
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About the Author:
The Nester, who writes anonymously, is a home stager, redesigner and design school
drop out. She and her husband and their three boys have moved 14 times in 14 years of
marriage and they are currently content to be renting. Nester’s favorite place to be is
home and you can usually catch her there moving furniture. She is quite uncomfortable
talking about herself in the third person.
You can find her at TheNester.com
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