Currently, I am the overwhelmed owner of thousands of jewelry-making beads in a rainbow of colors. I don’t make jewelry and never have.
But my mom did for many years until she started having allergic reactions to the nickel wire and her dementia slowly took away her interest in doing anything crafty.
Out of her four daughters, I am the only one who has continued her interest in crafting and DIY projects. So of course, as we have been cleaning out her home, my sisters helped me load up boxes and boxes of beads and jewelry-making tools in my car knowing that I would be the only one who might use them.
For most of this year, I have considered several options for how to use the beads and did many searches on Pinterest for ideas. None of my searches included ideas for jewelry so my results were small at best.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t give up on ever using these beads and this upcoming holiday season inspired another search where I randomly stumbled on a pin for making retro beaded garland.
That lightbulb moment led to this post for an easy way to make a festive DIY retro beaded garland using tinsel ribbon.
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This post is part of the monthly Creative Craft Blog Hop, hosted by Sara of Birdz Of A Feather blog. At the bottom of this post, I will direct you to the next blogger on the list to continue your journey of some wonderful and creative projects.
Mid-century modern home design has been a favorite style of mine for nearly 20 years. Since Interior Design school, where I was introduced to the style, it even influenced our choice of a mid-century-inspired home soon after.
My interest in mid-century modern Christmas tree decorations naturally followed that first spark of interest in anything mid-century modern in style.
For the last couple of years I have been slowly collecting vintage ornaments and decor for my themed Retro Christmas tree, but it is getting harder and harder to find good pieces at affordable prices. Sometimes you just have to recreate the Christmas tree look you want on a budget with an easy DIY project.
I am fully aware that this project may not be as affordable for anyone else because jewelry beads are expensive and you don’t have the luxury of inheriting 21 organized and compartmentalized boxes of beads from your mother like I did. Either way, I hope that you will be inspired to take something that was purchased for one purpose and find a way to make it your own as I have with these beads.
The Retro Style garland I envisioned making included beads in the classic Christmas colors that matched the color palette on the Shiny Brite and Goby vintage ornaments I have on the tree.
This vision included beads threaded around shiny silver tinsel ribbon reminiscent of vintage Christmas tree garland. I had plenty of beads but not the tinsel ribbon so a trip to the local craft store was needed where I hoped to find just the type of ribbon I was looking for.
At Michaels, I found both a silver and bright green wired ribbon with shiny tinsel pieces.
I can easily get lost in the ribbon aisle at a craft store. With all the many different types of ribbon for Christmas in their bright colors and festive designs I imagine all the different ways to use them so I want to buy them all.
Does anyone else have the same problem when browsing the Christmas ribbon aisle at places like Hobby Lobby each year?
As you can see in the photos, the tinsel ribbon was not a solid piece of wired tinsel but wire with small tuffs of silver tinsel evenly spaced out along the thin wire. I had hoped that I would be able to slide the beads over the tinsel pieces to secure them between each tuff of tinsel. That idea was quickly dashed because the beads bunched the tinsel pieces down the wire instead of sliding over them.
Not wanting to give up on the decorative tinsel ribbon too soon, I had to think of a way to make it work for me and not against me.
The answer was just to use another sturdier wire as the base of the garland. Going back to my mom’s jewelry-making stash I found some silver 14 gauge wire that was perfect for the base wire for the garland.
The plan was to wrap the more flimsy tinseled ribbon around the 14 gauge wire to resemble a full tinseled garland with beads added similar to the vintage garland I researched online.
I measured and cut the length of the 14 gauge wire to about 5 feet, and created a loop on one end.
Starting at the looped end, I then wrapped several loops of the tinsel ribbon around the 14 gauge wire, making sure to slide the loops together to create a continuous row of tinsel.
Having already picked the colored beads and sizes for a repeated pattern, it was now time to attempt to make the tinsel garland with a mix of tinsel wire ribbon and the beads stacked in that pattern based on color and size.
The colors of the beads were chosen to coordinate with the vintage ornaments on my tree.
After adding the loops of ribbon around the 14 gauge wire, I slid the colored beads on the wire to meet up with the tinsel ribbon section.
As the next step in the process, I wrapped loops of the tinsel ribbon around each bead to the end of their line to hold them in place and make them appear to be embedded in the tinsel of the ribbon. At the end of the bead line, I repeated the process of wrapping the tinsel ribbon at least 10 times around the 14 gauge wire again to create a spacer of tinsel between the next line of beads.
Repeat the process until the entire wire is covered in tinsel ribbon and beads.
This process was continued down the entire length of the 14 gauge wire and then a second loop tied on the end.
The result is a beaded tinsel garland similar to vintage mid-century modern Christmas decorations of the past.
I made a rookie mistake in not knowing how many beads it would take to complete just one strand of the garland. As a result, I didn’t have enough of the larger green beads for more than one strand. Since I was trying to match the color palette of the ornaments, I substituted deep blue beads on the second strand. I thought I would mention that just in case you noticed the different bead colors in the process photos.
Even though the tinsel garland will be used on my silver tinsel Christmas tree, I have photographed the garland on one of my traditional green Christmas trees to show off the details of the tinsel garland better.
Wrapping the tinseled ribbon around the wire so many times used up more of the ribbon than expected so I was only able to make two five-foot garlands with the silver tinsel ribbon.
You may notice in the first photo that I also bought a roll of tinsel ribbon in bright green but decided that none of the beads in my stash coordinated well with it so it will be used on another project.
Two strands of garland are not going to cover an entire Christmas tree so I will make a few more after another trip to the local craft store.
Bonus garland project!
As a bonus for this post, I also created a full beaded garland in bead colors that closely matched the color scheme of my vintage ornaments by stringing them together in a pattern on some gold 16 gauge jewelry wire from Mom’s stash. No need to share a tutorial on how to make it since it is so very obvious, but I did want to share another option for making an easy DIY retro-style garland using jewelry beads since the tinsel ribbon may not be what you may like for your Christmas style.
Both versions of this retro-themed garland add a bright pop of color to any Christmas tree whether a classic green tree or silver. Just imagine the festive touch it would give to an all-white tree!
The full strand of beaded garland makes a beautiful tree addition no matter what Christmas look you are striving for in your holiday decor.
I like both styles of garland equally so can’t pick a favorite. My favorite part may be that I finally found a way to use some of my mom’s craft stash to create something not only pretty for my retro-style tree but to enjoy each Christmas season from now on.
Pin For Later
Now I would like to invite you to visit all of the other talented bloggers who participated in the Creative Craft Hop this month, starting with Gail’s project from Purple Hue’s And Me for a DIY Sparkling Holly Tree Centerpiece.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.