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Christmas Tie-Back

So many parts of the house get decorated during the Christmas season - so why not make these pretty seasonal tie-back and decorate your curtains?

This example uses more common types of thread as opposed to silks and fancy metallics, so is inexpensive, yet effective.

You will need the Paperlathe system to create the mould, knowledge of some tassel, braiding and frogging techniques (all shown on my DVDs), 4-ply yarn in green and red, metallic yarn and basic tassel making equipment. I have not given step-by-step instructions for specialist techniques as these can be found on the DVDs. These will be listed at the end of the article.

For each tie back you will need -

  • 1 ball of red 4-ply yarn
  • 1 ball of green 4-ply yarn (I used inexpensive, every day acrylic yarn - you will have plenty left over!)
  • gold metallic craft thread (I used Anchor Artiste Crochet Metallic)
  • Gold soutache braid or other thin braid or cord (I bought mine, as there are alot of small gold braids available at this time of year - you could of course make yours using the metallic thread)
  • Strong thread, glue, wire and basic tassel making equipment including a tassel mould.

Warping the Total Trimmings TablePreparation:

First you should create your warps.

For the tie back knots:

  • green - 4 x 8 ends 2.30m long
  • red - 2 x 8 ends 2.30m long
  • gold - 2 x 8 ends 2.30 long

For the tassel cord:

  • green - 2 ends 50cm long
  • red - 2 ends 50 cm long
  • gold - 2 ends 50cm long

For the underskirt:

  • green - 2 x 6 ends 2.30m long

For the overskirt:

  • red - 1 x 6 ends 2.30m long

For the ruffs:

  • gold - 1 x 6 ends 2.30m long

For the tassel mould covering:

  • green - 1 x 2 ends
  • red - 1 x 2 ends

Note: The images show the original Total Trimmings Table in use. This is no longer available, but of course these techniques can be worked on the Total Trimmings Table Deluxe.

Making the cords

Each cord is a double spun cord, so you need to work them in the correct order. As they are using such long lengths of thread, use a cord twister (or hand drill) if you can, and enlist the help of a friend to hold the 'other' end. If you can't get someone to help, place a cup hook at a good height so that you can walk far enough away from the threads to keep them taut. When twisting, keep the tension as tight as possible - yarns stretch, and so you need to ensure that as you twist you are pulling those threads towards you - but don't over stretch! You also need to over twist at each stage to ensure a really good finished cord.

Twist two green 8 end warps individually in an anti-clockwse direction, then twist them together in a clockwise direction. Keep taut, and tape to secure.

Twist one red 8 end warp and one gold 8 end warp individually in an anti-clockwise direction, then twist them together in a clockwise direction.

Now, twist the two cords made above together in an anti-clockwise direction. When twisted, secure the ends with tape before releasing the tension.

Repeat for the second cord.

Next, make a small 3 element cord for the tassel by twisting each 2 end warp individually in an anti-clockwise direction and then together in a clockwise direction. secure the ends with a little bit of tape before releasing the tension.

Make the braid

The braid used to cover the tassel mould is 4 element flat braid. Arrange the colours alternating - red-green-red-green before braiding to ensure the diagonal design appears.

Make the knot tie backs

Using the design, (which can be downloaded as a pdf pattern by clicking this link) create two knots from the large double spun cords to act as the tie backs. Use the pinned method to create these knots. Begin at the dot and work around. At the end, remember to create a loop that is large enough to ensure that the knot sits nicely over the curtain (while the loop fixes to the tie-back hook).

Stitch the ends together with a little bit of the yarn, and then bind tightly with the yarn. Now, overbind the join with the metallic thread.

You will need to make two knots - and they should be mirror images of each other. Place the two knots side-by-side and tie together where they touch. Now, tightly bind these areas to create one tie-back. If you are unsure about the strength of your binding, you may wish to stitch the two frogs together first.

Adding the tassel cord

Add the tassel cord with a lark's head knot - simply loop it around the the halves of the frog, and then take the ends through the loop created. Tighten so that the cord is secured. There is no need to tie an additional knot - the tassel itself will keep the cord in place.  

(note: the card shown in the images below is just for clarity so that the knot can be seen!)

Make and decorate the mould

The mould has been made using the Paperlathe® system - pattern number 189 on 80gsm paper, over the 10mm rolling rod. As this is quite a thick pattern, I would advise that you leave the mould to dry thoroughly before covering it. This mould has been covered using the rolling technique (shown on Making Tassels Vol. 2). Start at the bottom of the mould, and work towards the top. The braid may well slip a little towards the top - leave it to dry before finishing if this happens. Do not trim the excess braid at the top- leave the mould to dry thoroughly.

When the glue has thoroughly dried and the braid is secured, use the barre technique to add lengthwise strips of the soutache braid. When working downward, catch the loose end of the braid as well to take it into the mould (trim if the excess is very long so that the hole is not blocked).

When complete, bind the neck edge of the mould to pull the soutache in close. Use a strong thread for this, but try not to fill the depression. Secure the mould to the tassel wand or a stick in readiness to add the skirts.

Make the skirts

You will need two wired skirts for this tassel. The underskirt uses the green warp, and the large tassel board - (140mm drop for the skirt). Put an extra twist in the wire as you make the skirt as the acrylic yarn is quite springy, and don't use a too thin wire. You should aim for about 14 tags. For the red overskirt, use the medium tassel board (100mm drop) and leave spaces between each twist of about 5mm so that you can work a braided (natté) overskirt. Remember that you need to have an even number of sections.

Secure the green skirt into place first. Then secure the red overskirt. Ensure that both skirts are secured tightly to the tassel mould before trimming any excess wire. Now bind over the neck area using some of the red yarn to cover the wire, tighten and neaten the area. Next cut the tags of the red overskirt and proceed to braid them. Loosely tie the sections with yarn as you go, and then when all have been braided and tied, bind the sections with the metallic thread. Trim the ends of the red skirt evenly, and then cut the loops of the green underskirt.

Making the ruffs

You will need two ruffs to finish the tassel in the same way that I have - the first, which acts as a stand alone ruff should be made of about 21 tags worked on a 4mm needle, wrapped 3 times around a 6mm dowel and connected. Make the second around the 4mm needle as well, but this time use about 40 tags - enough to go around the tassel neck at least twice. (This number may change depending on how much binding you added to your tassel - test as you make the ruff). You may wish to go around three times, if so, simply add more tags. Tightly secure the ruff to the neck of your tassel to cover all of the joins and binding.

Putting it all together

Use a length of threading wire to take the tassel cord onto the stand-alone ruff and then through the tassel itself. Push the tassel quite far up towards the tie-back then knot the two ends of the cord together tightly. Work a padded ball button over the knot to ensure that the tassel does not slip down and off of the cord. When complete, gently push the tassel down to the button, and push the stand alone ruff down so that it sits on top of the tassel.

Gina-B Silkworks Products used:
Making Braids & Cords dvd
Making Frogs and Fancies dvd
Paperlathe®
Making Tassels Vol. 2
Tassel Tool Kit
Total Trimmings Table
Tassel Wand


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About Us

Gina-B Silkworks designs and produces a variety of craft kits, books, DVDs and other items with an emphasis on handwork & passementerie (textile trimmings). We also stock a range of tools & materials for these crafts. Gina also makes bespoke items to commission.
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