This fringy bridal necklace was one of my most popular when I had my bridal jewelry business almost 10 years ago. I just made one for a custom order, so I thought I’d take some pictures along the way to show you how to use headpins to make a fringy necklace (and even a bracelet), plus how to use headpins to make simple drop earrings. All of these styles can be used with many kinds/colors of beads to make jewelry for any occasion or every day, not just for bridal jewelry!
Headpins come in lots of lengths and thicknesses. They don’t always state the thickness on the packaging, but I’ve found that they are 22-24 gauge (higher number=thinner, lower number=thicker; 22-24 is about average. For wire-wrapping pearls, I use 26 gauge). As for length, it depends on what you’re making. For this fringe necklace, I am dangling just one 4mm bead or two 3mm beads in the main picture above. So I purchased headpins that are 1 inch in length. To make a longer drop earring with a large bead and a few smaller beads stacked on top of it, you would use a longer headpin, maybe a 1.5-2 inch one. There are two ways to make a loop with a headpin to attach it to other findings: 1) A simple loop, and 2) a wire-wrapped loop. Because several individual headpins are used to make one set of fringies (six headpins on one jump ring), I use the simple loop there. To make a drop earring that consists of just one jump ring hanging from an earwire, I would wire-wrap the jump ring to make a loop. Here’s how to make the first one, the simple loop, for the fringe necklace. First, thread one bead (I am using a 4mm pearl here) onto a headpin. Next, you’re going to bend the headpin about 90 degrees, right at the top of the bead. Here’s how I do it…I grasp the bead with my left hand, with my thumbnail right where I want to bend it. Then with my right hand, I bend the wire. You can also grasp the bead with your left hand and grasp the wire with flat-nosed pliers in your right hand and then turn it 90 degrees if you don’t want to use your thumbnail. Maybe using pliers is better than using your thumbnail; maybe because I’ve made sooo many of these that the thumbnail method is fastest for me (my thumbnail is okay still!). The next step is to trim the headpin. You want to leave about 1/2 an inch of wire above the bead to make the loop. Now to make the loop. Hold the bead with your left hand, and with your right hand, grasp the end of the wire with your round-nose pliers. Form a loop by rotating your round-nose plier to the left, so that the loop is formed right over the bead. It may take two rotations. One rotation of my pliers got me to about here. Then I take my pliers out, insert them back into the loop, and do one more rotation of my wrist so that the end of the wire meets where I bent it, or approximately there, to form a closed loop. Here’s the finished loop. Now we need to open it properly. So you want the loop facing you like this. Grasp the loop at the end with flat-nosed pliers, and rotate it open by moving the end towards you. Do not open it by moving the end sideways. You want it to kind of slide open. You’ll close it in the same manner. This is also how you open and close a jump ring. That’s how you make one headpin. For each fringy section, I made 3 pearl and 3 clear crystal ones. I’m going to stop for now and wire wrap a strand of beads together, with a jump ring in between (I think these were 4mm closed jump rings – Each jump ring will hold the 6 headpins to make one section of fringies). Please see my wire wrapping tutorial to learn this technique. Start with one 1.25 inch length of 26 gauge wire and form a wire-wrapped loop. Thread on a 6mm bead (I’m using pearls), and form another loop but keep it “open” (again, see my wire wrapping tutorial to see what this means). Thread on a jump ring. Then take another piece of wire of the same length, and form an open loop. Thread that onto the jump ring, close the loop, and thread on another bead. Again, form an open loop, and thread on another jump ring. Keep going until you have 12 beads and 11 jump rings in between. Now take the headpin bead you made, making sure you have opened the loop. Hook it onto one of the headpins. Close up the loop in the same manner as you opened it, but in the opposite direction (so holding the bead again with the loop facing you, slide the end away from you, back to the starting position, to close the loop). It may be a little bit cumbersome doing this while dealing with the long strand of beads. It will only become more so with 5 other fringies to deal with! You will get it, though. You just have to focus on it well. For this particular necklace, I hook my headpin beads on as follows to evenly distribute them in terms of type of bead, and so they are evenly spread out and not all bunched up. I spread out the large bead strand so they are all in a line. Then I put 3 beads on one “side” of the line, and 3 beads on the other side. On one side, I have pearl/crystal/pearl, and on the other side, I have crystal/pearl/crystal. Note: this necklace I’m making right now is different from the necklace in my very first image, where some of my headpins contain two teeny pearls and two teeny crystals, but I do also have 6 headpins total). Here’s the first set of fringies done. You can see how 3 of the headpins are on one side, and 3 are on the other, and they alternate pearl/crystal/pearl and crystal/pearl/crystal. Now, repeat with the rest of the headpins on the rest of the jump rings. Smile, you’re done with the fringy part! Now to make the rest of the necklace. The fringy part is centered in the front of the necklace, so you need to make equal strands on either side of it that connect in the back with a clasp. The total length I’m making my necklace is 17 inches. The fringy part of the necklace is about 6 inches. So the rest of the necklaces needs to be about 5.5 inches on each side, including the clasp and jump ring at the ends. Wire wrap two 5.5 inch lengths of beads. I used 4mm pearls and crystals for a total of 13 beads on each side. Keep the end wire loops OPEN because you will be hooking those onto the clasp or jump ring at one end, and to the fringy strand at the other end. After you make the two strands, wire-wrap a clasp to one end, and a jump ring to the other end. Then, attach the other ends of these strands to the ends of the fringy strand. To make matching earrings, I wire-wrapped my headpins. I used a 7mm pearl that was slightly oval in size, plus a 4mm crystal. I threaded them onto a 2 inch headpin. Then you’ll just wire-wrap it as usual, except you only need to do one side of the bead. You can hook it to earwires at this point or you could go ahead and close your loop, and open the earwire loop as you did with the headpins in the fringy necklace and slide on the headpin, and close it back again. All done with your fringe bib necklace and simple drop earrings, thanks to the humble headpin. I usually made bracelets about 7 inches on average, including the clasp. You would keep both of the wire wrapped loops at the ends open. Thread on a clasp and jump ring (or in my bracelet pictured below, a toggle clasp, where you’d wrap each part of it to either end) and you have a fringe bracelet. Don’t forget to refer back to my Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Basics post if needed. I have one more coming up, to make a different kind of drop earring, which can be applied to make pendants as well.