Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tutorial Time!: Tassels

Chinese (Qing) dynasty chopine-style slippers adorned with tassels on the toes.

Tassels are a common form of decoration in the folk dress of many cultures: Native American, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern. Adding a tassel is a great way to finish off the ends of a sash, accent the point of a bodice or vest, or highlight bustling (they attract the attention of the eye and add movement to the outfit). Military uniforms and gun holsters also look sharper with a tassel or two.

Home decoration and fabric stores would have you buy these little sprigs of awesome for anywhere between $1.00 to as much as $20.00- but with some practice you can learn this very simple technique to make your own.

- Scissors
- A piece of cardboard as long as you'd like your tassel to be.
- Two bobby or hair pins (optional for if you have slippery or unruly fiber).

- Floss, yarn, cord, or twine- length depending on how long or full you want it to be. I used a full 8.7 yard (8 m) skein of rayon embroidery floss.

Take one end of your cord (knot it if it frays) and wrap it around the strip of cardboard. Keep wrapping...

I used a heavy glossed embroidery floss in a dusty blue.
Once your tassel feels full enough (or you've run out of cord) make sure that the end cuts off on the same side of your card as the beginning (otherwise it will come apart). Be sure to leave a little leftover cord for tying it off. For easier control in the next step, slide a bobby pin through either end to keep the wrapping intact. Carefully slide your raw tassel off of the card.

Next, use the leftover piece of cord to tie off the head of the tassel- I would recommend 1/4-1/6 of the overall length. Wrap it 2-3 times and knot securely, then cut off the excess.

To finish the overall shape, slide you scissors into the center of all of the loops and cut them free- giving you that lovely fringe. To attach your tassel, take a needle and thread and run it through the fringe up through the center of the head- then either sew it on now or leave some extra thread and run it back through the head.

This is where the bobby pins are a lifesaver.
 Easy, wasn't it? This technique does take a little time to practice, but in time you can churn out more tassels than a Pier 1 Imports, and at a fraction of the cost. Go forth and make tassels! Attach them to wrapped holiday gifts, harass your cats, make a GIGANTIC one and use it as a fly whisk in the summertime.


- Yarn can be used to make big "camel" tassels good for belly dancing or Middle Eastern outfits.
- Instead of tying off the head, bunch all of your lengths of string together and tie them off in the middle. Then thread this through a jewelry or scrap metal cone.
- Wire or a contrasting color can accent the neck of the tassel as well.
- Mixing cord colors and consistencies can also create an interesting look.

My middle eastern outfit features yarn 'camel' tassels made using this method.


  1. i. LOVE the arabian costume...what did you wear it for?

  2. "you can churn out more tassels than a Pier 1 Imports"


    I've never had great luck making tassels. They always looked like an elementary school craft project in my hands. Oh, lets be honest, those 1st graders made better tassels than I did.

  3. this is fantastic. as an aside, what did you use to paint on your tattoos in your arabian outfit?

  4. Good old fashioned black liquid eyeliner- simply because I was too poor to buy temptu.