GreenCraft: Making an Upcycled Suede Necklace

It's an honor to have my suede fringe necklace featured in this month's GreenCraft Magazine! This is one of my favorite jewelry projects to make, and it's a great way to use up a variety of miscellaneous suede and leather scraps (which I happen to have a lot of around the studio). My whole handmade jewelry business Once Again Sam is centered around using recycled materials, and leather has always been the most dear to me. I enjoy searching for outdated suede clothing at the thrift store, and giving it new life, once again, in a whole new way as bold but wearable jewelry. 

Below is a step by step tutorial on how to make the statement necklace shown in the GreenCraft article, as well as a #MakersEyeView sharing a time-lapse video of the process from start to finish. Enjoy, and happy crafting!

How to make a suede fringe necklace: 

1. Gather material: I use thrift store clothing as my suede and leather source, but just about anything will work as long as it doesn't fray when cut. 

2. Cut strips: use scissors to cut an assortment of 1/4" wide strips (the length is up to you, mine are about 2 1/2 to 3"). The necklace in the photo used over 150 pieces total, in 20 different colors. 

3. Create pointed ends: give one end of each piece a pointed shape, so they'll have that "fringe" look when strung together. They don't have to be perfect!

4. Punch holes: use an 1/8" circle leather punch to punch a small hole through the top of each piece (the flat end, not the end with the point).

5. Make your chain: cut a length of thin chain around 18-20" (depending on where you want the necklace to lay on your chest), then add a clasp to one end so the leather pieces wont fall off once you begin stringing them on. The chain needs to be thin enough to go through the punched holes. I attached a needle to the end of my chain to make threading easier, because my punched hole was just barely big enough to accept the chain.

6. Start stringing: once you have your colors in the order you want them, begin adding your suede strips one by one until you're happy with the overall size.

GreenCraft has featured two of my upcycled jewelry projects in the past, and those tutorials can also be found on my blog:

Click HERE for suede fringe earring project

Click HERE for suede cuff project

Suede Fringed Earrings: A How-to Guide

Fringed Earrings-StepbyStep.jpg

Craft supplies are everywhere I look, and I rarely visit the craft store. Just about everything I need for jewelry making can be found on a rack in a thrift shop or piled up at a garage sale. My passion is to upcycle leather, suede, and anything else I can get my busy crafting hands on. It’s an affordable, eco-friendly, and extremely rewarding way to create. When I see an old leather jacket or a beat up suede skirt at Goodwill, items that aren’t likely to be used again due to the style or condition of the garment, I happily claim them, but not to wear as they were originally intended to be worn. My plans for these outdated or damaged garments include deconstructing them, chopping them into unrecognizable pieces, then repurposing the material as casual but bold jewelry.

My indie craft business called Once Again Sam is where my love of thrifting and jewelry making came together. I had always enjoyed digging through old clothes at thrift shops for fun, and creating jewelry had been a favorite hobby of mine for years, but it wasn’t until 2009 when I opened my business, that the two became intertwined. Once I discovered how simple and rewarding upcycled jewelry making could be, I was free to buy any thrift shop clothing item I wanted, and it didn’t matter what condition it was in, the style statement it once made decades ago, or how close it was to my size. Having chosen to source materials for my jewelry line through non-traditional means, I learned to walk through a secondhand clothing store and see it as a fabric warehouse. As an upcycler, I was free to seek out luxurious textures and colorful material, and pay only a few dollars in the end, and I love knowing there’s a backstory behind every piece I make. 

Tools & Materials:

-       Hammer

-       Pliers

-       Leather punch: circle 1/16”

-       Scissors

-       Leather / suede garment

-       Jump rings & ear wire


To make a pair of lightweight and lovely suede fringe earrings, you’ll need to first choose your material sources. Head out to your favorite thrift store, check out garage sales, or even look in the depths of your own closet for that article of clothing you haven’t worn in years but haven’t been able to part with just yet. Any kind of leather or suede clothing will work, but pants and skirts have fewer seams and more flat material, which make things easier when taking the garment apart.

1. Choose three articles of suede clothing.

2. Use sharp scissors to deconstruct the garments.

3. Select pieces of suede to work with.

4. Sketch out an earring shape, then draw the final design onto a piece of cardboard to make a template for each layer.

5. Trace around your cardboard template with a thin marker onto the suede, then cutout two copies of each layer.

6. Cut into the bottom of each layer approximately 3/4” to create fringe.

7. With a 1/16” circle leather punch, hammer holes through the tops of all layers of suede.

8. Secure all three layers through the punched holes with a small jump ring (6mm) then attach matching ear wire.

9. Enjoy wearing your suede fringe earrings!