Tartan Washer Necklace DIYT (Don’t Invest Your Time)

It’s time for a “How To” on the necklaces MOH Big Eyes and I made for the women in the bridal party. I say this with the utmost sincerity, please do not try this at home. In fact, don’t ever attempt to make jewelry out of wool. It’s just a bad idea. Wool is not a good medium for creating pretty, dainty things. But DO make the necklace, just use different fabric.

THAT SAID, we did the best with what we had. And I think our necklaces turned out absolutely gorgeous, thanks to Sister Big Eyes and her ingenuity.

There were a lot of ideas thrown around over the past few months regarding bracelets and necklaces and the tartan fabric. The question was how could we gift the bridal party a piece of our family tartan? (The men will get to keep their bouts even though they’ll never have another reason to wear them. They’ll probably just hold on to them for sentiment’s sake, HA!) Ladies of the Sword bridal party feel free to read on about all the frustration love that went into your jewelry! 🙂

Let’s start with the inspiration for this necklace.


image via Pinterest

If you click on the link to Pinterest you’ll find lots of ideas and versions of this beautiful necklace. Most fabrics will move a lot easier than wool. Two things to note about working with tartan fabric, 1) It is very stiff and doesn’t bend well, 2) It frays badly immediately after being cut.

Great, now that you’re excited, here is the step-by-step version of how we made our very own washer necklaces with our tartan fabric.

STEP ONE: BUY YOUR SUPPLIES. You’ll need enough washers for each necklace and Sister Big Eyes says odd numbers look best, so we figured about seven per necklace plus quite a few extras. We also decided we wanted to paint the washers, so picked up ivory and forest green spray paint.


Then we visited JoAnn to buy ribbon to add to the necklaces so they can be tied around the neck, and interfacing to put on the back of the fabric to prevent it from fraying as much.

STEP TWO: SPRAY THE WASHERS. Optimal conditions would be in Bismarck, ND when the temperature is below zero so your hands want to fall off and directly before it starts snowing so your first batch is completely ruined. OH WAIT, those were our conditions but maybe you live some place warmer than the tundra. In that case, just spray them on a piece of cardboard or a paper bag.

We tried using both the ivory and the green washers with the tartan but in the end we felt the darker green color looked better than the lighter ivory color.


STEP THREE: LAY OUT INTERFACING ON TARTAN FABRIC, CUT TO FIT. Sister Big Eyes looks like she knows what she’s doing in this picture, but truthfully none of us had ever used interfacing before. What is interfacing you ask? To quote Wikipedia, it’s “a textile used on the unseen or “wrong” side of fabrics to make an area of a garment more rigid.” (Thank you Boss Lady for the giving me the idea.)


STEP FOUR: GET SILLY IRON INTERFACING ONTO FABRIC. While Sister Big Eyes was working hard, cousin and BM Jo and I were having our own fun.


Tartan headband anyone? Five dollars please.


Even Fibonacci wanted to help out! Hehe. BM Jo sent him downstairs wearing this:


STEP FIVE A: LAMENT ABOUT HOW MUCH EASIER THIS PROJECT WOULD BE IF YOU USED RIBBON INSTEAD. Celebrate Christmas with your family and take a break from the necklaces until you’re back in Minnesota.


STEP FIVE B (aka the real STEP FIVE): CUT THE TARTAN INTO STRIPS. I don’t know exactly how long we made ours because it took some trial and error and it depends on how low you want your necklace to hang. No matter what fabric you use, don’t forget to factor in extra fabric for looping it through each washer.


STEP SIX: ADD ANTI-FRAYING GOOP TO EDGES. While the interfacing did help, the tartan still began to fray and separate immediately after it was cut, so we decided to do both. This was my job. That and taking photos of every step of the process!


STEP SEVEN: SEW RIBBON ON TO EACH END OF YOUR STRIPS. Sister Big Eyes did this part as well (shocking I know) and she did a great job. The length of ribbon doesn’t matter too much because if you have too much you can just make a bigger bow at the back of your neck.


It’s best if the ribbon is the same width of your cut strips of fabric.


STEP EIGHT: LOOP TARTAN THROUGH EACH WASHER. Honestly, I have no idea how to explain this because I didn’t do it (worst tutorial writer ever!), but I think you thread it through the first washer, then the second washer and then back again through the first washer so they lay close to each other.

I know I mentioned earlier that we were going for seven washers per necklace, but in the end it was more important to make the washers centered in the middle which meant some of them have one extra or one less washer.


STEP NINE: WEAR IT. For some reason we don’t have anyone wearing the finished product necklace. In the below picture MOH Big Eyes is wearing her bridesmaid dress and a necklace that has the original (unpainted) washers, and after that is BM Jo wearing a prototype necklace that does not have ribbon or interfacing.



Overall I’m really pleased with how they turned out! And I can’t wait to see all the bridesmaids and honor attendants wearing them with their dresses! I’m so happy that each girl will get to take home a piece of the Sword family tartan as well. Based on the photo above, I’m thinking the girls will be able to wear them again with regular clothing. Win win!


I also want to take this opportunity to thank the world’s best Maid of Honor, my little sister. Without her I don’t know where I’d be, and I’m so grateful for all of the work she has done to make our Highland Fairy Tale a dream come true.

And I truly hope I can help her waste her time on an equally stressful craft for her wedding in the near future. Much love, Sis.

(all photos personal)

Do you like the tartan necklaces? Would you ever make a necklace with washers? What wedding craft did you spend way too much time working on?


Mrs. Sword

Wedding Date:
March 2013
Nobody ”˜Scept You: The Boys Get Fancy
Mates for Life Madness: Brought to You by Avocado! (Part 2 of 4)
Add a comment


  1. mssquirrel Bee
    mssquirrel 276 posts, Helper bee @ 8:35 am

    Aww sorry they were such a pain, but what a unique necklace for them to wear! I wanted to try after I saw your inspiration, but I think I am way too lazy…

  2. msjackrabbit Bee
    msjackrabbit 1080 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:41 am

    These pictures prove just how much fun you had making them!

    And the green definitely looks good 🙂

    I have spent way too much time making BUNTING – but i’ll cover that in a couple of weeks 😉

  3. Member
    thirdtimebride 483 posts, Helper bee @ 9:22 am

    I know it’s way too late for this, but I’m going to offer some tips, anyway, just in case someone reads this and says ‘hm, I’m willing to give it a go’:

    *Interfacing comes in different weights. I’m not sure what weight you used, but go with the lightest weight you can find to keep your finished fabric flexible.
    *Iron the interfacing onto the wool BEFORE you cut it, and it might not fray so much.
    *To be doubly sure of the not-fraying, use pinking shears–cuts down on the fraying marvelously.
    *Finally, wool felts marvelously (provided it’s 100% and not treated to be “super-wash” wool that is then machine washable). Felting is a bit of a process on its own, but the finished fabric would act just like craft-store felt, only be better because it isn’t made of polyester. Also, you could have skipped the interfacing and fray-check, too.

    I think they turned out great for all the challenges you faced and I’m sure all the little tartan details will infuse the day with your theme.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Weddingmuse, Guest @ 10:40 am

    To the pp I would also add that if you cut your fabric on the bias instead of on the straight grain, it generally will not fray. This would eliminate the need for interfacing.

    The necklaces really turned out great.

  5. bracelet Bee
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 12:05 pm

    What a labor of love!

  6. mspony Bee
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 12:49 pm

    I hate that these were a pain to make, but I love how they turned out!

  7. star Bee
    star 659 posts, Busy bee @ 1:04 pm

    They look so awesome. Worth all the work, for sure 🙂

  8. sword Bee
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:17 pm

    @Miss Squirrel: No, based on the stuff you’ve done, you can totally do this too!

    @Miss Jackrabbit: That’s so true. thanks, I’m glad we went with green. Excited to read about your bunting!

    @thirdtimebride: Thanks for the extra tips!

    @Weddingmuse: thank you!!

    @Mrs. Bracelet: no kidding! 🙂

    @Mrs. Pony: I’m probably being a bit dramatic, they were more fun than stressful, thanks girl!

    @Mrs. Star: thanks, absolutely!

  9. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 6:45 pm

    This is amazing! I want to make some of these for every day wear. I think a trip to Michaels is in the near future!


  10. sword Bee
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:12 pm

    @ChicagoDreamer: Ooo yay, glad you were inspired!!

add a comment

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors