Monday, August 29, 2011

Fabric Covered Cuff Links Tutorial

I am a terrible gift-giver. Especially when it comes to brothers, fathers and husbands--well, just the one husband. I think men are really hard to buy gifts for. I think it's because there just aren't that many mid-price gift options for them. The things they really would like--sports gear, technology--are too expensive for birthdays. My brother's birthday is this week, he's a snazzy dresser, so I thought I'd give hand-made cuff links a try!

I knew I wanted a pair of plain, flat cuff links. I checked Michaels, but they only had square shaped links in the bead craft area. They were also kind of bulky. I  suddenly had a brainstorm and called Stein Mart (they have everything) and bingo! Plain, flat cuff links for $9.99. Yes, it would have been nice to find them for $3.00, but I didn't have to buy anything else for this project.

Here's what you'll need:
a pair of plain, round cuff links
a few inches of fabric (scraps are usually fine)
thread (regular sewing thread and embroidery floss)
water or air soluble fabric marker
No Fray
clear Elmers glue

I raided my scrap bag and chose a few different patterns, I decided to go with the madras. The red seersucker looked a little like pink from a distance and the blue was reading: "Baby." Trace your links on the fabric then cut circles about a half inch larger than the actual size. Cut circles of iron on interfacing the same size as your links and iron them to the fabric rounds.

What you're actually making is a tiny fabric yo-yo that will cover the link. Fold the edges in a tiny bit (about 1/8 of an inch or less), just enough so that you can stitch without unraveling your edges. Knot your thread and make a running stitch all the way around the edges of the circle. Now, when you begin to gather the yo-yo, the edges will magically turn to the inside, leaving you with a nice clean edge.

Begin to gather the yo-yo.

Put the fabric around one of the cufflinks and finish gather. If you are stopping here (not embroidering initials) then you can skip on down to the "tying off" steps. Otherwise, leave the thread long and don't knot it off yet. You'll need the extra length later.

If you want to embroider initials, now is the time to draw them onto the fabric with a fabric marker (water or air soluble).

Take the fabric yo-yo's back off the links and get ready to embroider. I used a back stitch here. Knot your embroidery floss (I used 2 strands so it would look crisp), make a stitch on the right side of your fabric. When you bring the thread back up from the wrong side, stitch slightly ahead of the finished stitch. Now make your second stitch on the right side, back through the end of the first stitch.

Finish up the initials. Dab a tiny bit of clear Elmer's glue on top of the link. This will keep it from slipping around too much and after it dries will keep the initial centered. Now, gather the yo-yo around your cuff link. I usually sew through a couple of "ridges" just to help secure the thread (hiding it as I go). I used a French Knot to make a large knot on the inside of the yo-yo. Wrap the thread around your needle several times (the more times, the larger the knot), pull the thread so that the "wraps" are as close to the fabric as possble then push the needle through fabric from the inside to the outside of the yo-yo. (Be sure to keep the wraps around the needle through this proces) Pull tight then snip off the thread close to fabric on the outside-the end will disappear into the yo-yo.

Look for any raveling edges and tuck them under, I dabbed on a little No Fray and a little glue to keep things in place.



  1. i know i’m a little off topic, but i just wanted to say i love the layout of your blog. i’m new to the blogegine platform, so any suggestions on getting my blog looking nice would be appreciated.

  2. Thanks! I appreciate your nice comments. I definitely still have a lot to learn, I've only been blogging a short time, but here are my few suggestions.
    1) Take pictures with good lighting
    2) Make headers, etc... using a photo editing program like Picnik
    3) When designing blog layout, go to "Design" then "Template Designer" then "Advanced," where you have a lot more control over specific layout options like colors, fonts, widths, etc...
    4) learn a little HTML code to make picture links, etc...
    5) Read lots of good blogs to get ideas!
    6) Make sure your blog reflects your personality and taste!