Remember all the amazing remnants I picked up at the Pendleton Woolen Mill store when I was in Portland? Happy to tell you that I’ve completed my first project—a rustic chic choker necklace.
I must admit, it was touch and go there for a moment when the blanket stitching on the edges was getting a bit Fred Flintstone. But, I think I successfully managed to steer it into a sartorial direction. The finished product is far from yabadabadoo. Way more Ralph Lauren/Alpine lodge style, don't you think? (Please say yes.)
I had my fabric. Now, all I needed was a clasp. After I did my research, Bella Findings in Downtown Los Angeles was where I needed to go. First, they have to buzz you in, because downtown. Once inside, inspiration galore. Surrounded by strands of beads, spools of fine chains, and trays of colorful stones, it’s easy to get distracted. Which is why I brought a list.
I love lists, and I love checking things off lists.
Waiting for my number to be called, I was feeling slightly anxious, totally normal for me when I’m doing something new. “Fifty one.” I’m up.
Because of my great need to divulge unnecessary information, I told them I had never made jewelry before. As if they were going to start speaking in some language I wouldn’t understand, and I needed to manage expectations immediately. Just tell them what I’m interested in, already. It really is difficult sometimes to get things done with all this constant internal dialogue! Focus, Gigi.
I proceed to tell them exactly what I need because, after all, I had done my research. I was just feeling insecure in unchartered territory.
OK, so I told them I was making a choker necklace from wool fabric, and needed to buy a ribbon crimp, a lobster clasp, and an extender. I think I managed not to tell them about my trip to see my family in the Pacific Northwest, but it was difficult. As if they can’t possibly find what I need until they know the whole history of the necklace I’m designing. As it turned out, she didn’t need to know about the sale at Pendleton Woolen Mill in order to help me.
I walked out the store with two sterling silver 19mm flat leather ends at $2.07 each, one rhodium sterling silver 7mm adjustable bar clasp with a Cubic Zirconia accent, for $3.72—and a receipt for $7.86. I was I well on my way.
Pendleton wool fabric (1”x14”)
Cotton or silk lining fabric (2.5”x 16”)
Sterling silver 19mm flat leather ends (2)
Sterling silver adjustable bar clasp
Needle and thread
What to do:
1. Measure the circumference of your neck—this is the length of Pendleton wool fabric that you’ll need to cut.
2. Cut it 1” wide, and the desired length.
3. To allow for seam allowance, measure your lining fabric so that it extends 2” beyond your wool fabric in length, and 1.5” in width. I used cotton, but silk would be lovely, too. Iron the seams down to match the size of your wool fabric piece. They should be the same size so that you can sew them together.
4. Put wrong side together and sew them together using a blanket stitch. I found this blanket stitch tutorial to be just what I needed.
4. Use pliers (and a scrap piece of leather or fabric to protect the silver) to crimp on the flat leather ends to your necklace.
That's really all there is to it. I do have one last thing to say, though. And this might be the best part. Style it with a simple white V-neck tee, your favorite denim, and leather boots. Then book a weekend at a Santa Barbara ranch, pack a bottle of red in your leather weekender, and hit the road. Top down on your classic 1966 MG, tunes up.
OK, you get the picture. It all started with your DIY Pendleton choker, though. Remember that.