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FREE FORM: How to "sew" metal

Learn an interesting way to bring your needle and thread skill to your metalwork 
Sewing Metal Casey Sheppard

As a child I spend a lot of time with a needle and thread. I was in awe of how simple yet complex sewing could be. Years later, I would bring this technique into my metal and jewelry designs, which again can be a simple yet complex. Here are some helpful hints to add a unique element to any jewelry project.

Wire samples
Wire Gauge

I prefer to use 22-24 gauge wire for sewing metal. The thinner wire gives a thread-like look, while thicker wire looks chunky. But if your intent is to add a stronger, chunky accent to a piece, then by all means go big.

Thinner wire is also easier to handle and thread through drilled holes. When sewing metal, take care that the wire doesn't break, as this can easily happen if you strong-superman-hand it!

 

drilling holes
Drill Size

If you are using the recommended 22-24 gauge wire then use a drill bit that’s 14-16 gauge.

I sew back and forth through the drilled holes, which again, gives the wire a thread-like look. This also layers the thin wire, giving a really cool look to your work. Play around with a scrap piece to see what you like the best.

The Game of Odds

Be sure to mark drill holes with a Sharpie marker, pencil, or scribe before you drill. As you plan, think about how many loops you want in your piece. Loops are created when you sew from one hole to the next. If you have 3 holes drilled, then 2 loops will form.

I like having an odd number of loops, so I will drill an even number of holes. There is no right or wrong here, it is up to you, just something to think about when designing.

Layers

Sewing metal is a great way to connect different layers together. The tip here is to make sure your holes line up. Leather or fabric can be forgiving when you are sewing them to metal, but metal on metal is NOT. Take your time, go slow, and align twice, drill once.

aligning holes
Sewing

Once you have your holes drilled, cut a piece of wire that is long enough for your project  but also manageable to work with. Thread the wire through the hole, leaving about 2 inches of the wire sticking out. You can start from the top of the piece or the bottom; again, up to you. If the wire end is sticking out of the top of the piece, the wrapping will show. If the wire end is sticking out of the backside, the wrapping will be in the back.

Sew the wire through the rest of the holes for your desired effect. When sewing, pull the wire tight enough to make the wire snug, but not so tight that you break the wire. Take care to prevent kinks or knots.

attaching components

Once your layers or single piece are sewn, you’ll need to wrap the ends to finish the piece. If you want to hide your wrapping, end the sewing with the wires' end sticking on the backside. I like to use the wrapping as an added design element.

Using needle nose pliers, tuck the wire under the loop and pull throw the gap. Wrap a few times, and if there isn’t much space between the loop and the metal, just simply place the end of the needle pliers in-between, which will give you more room to wrap. Snip the end so it can be tucked under the loop; it should be nice and snug.

Play, play, play to see how you can use this simple technique to bring some bold, fun connections or accents to your next piece of jewelry.  Who knew sewing could be so fun!

Paper Plane bracelet

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