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March 10, 2023

Twisted Bead Fringe Tutorial

Twisted bead fringe is a variety of loop bead fringe that wraps around itself to form a spiral column of beads. The effect is a lot like twisting a loop of string or wire - but, of course, it is more interesting with beads since you can vary the size, color and pattern. 

Twisted bead fringe in neon orange and green

It is not a style of fringe that you see very frequently, but I think that's a shame - so I'll show you how to make it and try to change that! 

antique beaded purse with twisted bead fringe

If you're wondering what made me want to make this type of fringe, it's because of these beautiful antique steel beaded purses that I like to collect. 

Close up of antique beaded purse with twisted bead fringe

My beaded purses are from the late 1800's to probably 1920's, and they have gorgeous beads and fringe (when it survives). Unfortunately, these purses don't hold up well to time, because they use steel cut metal beads - which are heavy and pull the bag apart. I'm hoping to figure out how to restore mine eventually, so there will be a future post on that, as well as articles on the other types of fringe based on these beaded bags. I really like the look of the twisted fringe, so it's the first one I decided to tackle.

In addition to using my beaded purse as an example, I found a twisted fringe video tutorial on YouTube by Jamie Cloud Eakin that was helpful and also purchased a kindle version of her book Bead Play with Fringe: Techniques, design and projects as research. 

Earring with flower button and long twisted bead fringe

I tried her technique, which uses a double strand of thread, to make this strand of twisted fringe. After practicing a bit, I found that I prefer to use single thread and I didn't need to use the doubled thread to get the twist. I added the links to her technique above for your reference if you want to explore using doubled thread. The advantage to using a double thread is that it is easier to control the amount of twist and to push the twist into the beads. I still may come back to the doubled thread technique if I decide to make fancier fringes with non-twisted sections of crystals or drops.

The twisted bead fringe technique is tricky to make at first. 

You'll need to secure the project to a base so it doesn't untwist, remember which direction you twisted if you want each fringe to twist the same way, make the twist on the thread, push the twist down the thread into the beads, hold the twist in place, untwist the needle portion of the thread and make sure it doesn't get knotted, then stitch into your beadwork while holding the twist, and finally release and pull tight - but not too tight because then it will untwist - so once you've got all that down, it's easy!

Hopefully, that didn't discourage you, because it's no more difficult than learning to make infinity link chain in wire work or learning odd count peyote turns. It's just learning the technique and then practice.

Brick stitch earrings (pink) with twisted bead fringe

Here's a step by step to making twisted bead fringe. I've done several experiments with twisted fringe altering types of beads, thread type and number of beads in the fringe, so I'll document materials use in my experiments after the basic technique.

Ladder stitch base of beads

Start with a base that you will secure the twisted fringe to. This can be lots of different things, but for this sample it's 8 columns of 2 bead high ladder stitch. 

Note that twisted fringe is a loop of fringe, so for each fringe, you need two columns of base beads - one where you come out of to start the fringe and a second to stitch in to to complete the loop. You can't stitch into the same bead or there isn't enough room for the twist of beads. (At least that's what I've read - haven't tried it myself, yet.)

Adding bead fringe brick stitch base

Tape your bead base to a rock. 

Just kidding - but you do need to secure the beadwork to a base, or as you twist the thread, your beadwork will flip and untwist the thread. Putting something heavy on top of your project works too.

Add the beads for your fringe on to the thread. 

When I say a fringe is 15 beads long, that is the hanging length. It actually takes 30 beads (2 sides 15 long) to make the twisted fringe.

Twisting thread for twisted bead fringe

Hold the thread near the end of the fringe beads and twist. It can help to have something that provides friction to make the twist - like my pink finger protector. After some practice, I don't use the finger protector any more and have gotten the hang of making twists. Initially, it helps to grip the thread.

Stitching through ladder stitch to secure twisted fringe

As you twist the thread, use the other hand to pinch the thread and push the twist into the fringe beads. Holding the twist in place by pinching the thread beneath the beads, use your other hand to slide your fingers along the other side of the thread to remove the twist on the needle side of the thread. 

It needs to be untwisted to prevent knots in your thread and because it will untwist the twist you are holding inside the beads.

Stitch up into the next beads in your base row, pull the thread through but keep holding the twist in place.

Making twisted bead fringe earrings

Stitch down through the next beads in the base.

How to make twisted bead fringe

Pull the thread through as much as you can before releasing where you are holding the twist in place. You are basically trying to get some pressure on the thread to keep it from untwisting as you pull the fringe tight. 

Like all fringe, you need to learn the right amount of tension. If you pull too tight, the fringe will untwist a little and be stiff. If you give a little slack, the fringe is more supple.

Twisted bead fringe steps

Once you pull the thread all the way through, you should have your twist. You may need to pull on the end of the fringe to get it to hang evenly. You may also help twist the beads to make it even and lock it in place.

Twisting the thread to make twisted bead fringe

Repeat for the next fringe.

Making twisted bead fringe earrings


4 rows of twisted bead fringe on ladder stitch base

Until you've made all your fringe. 

Variety of twisted bead fringe earring examples

Here are some sample projects, in the order that I made them with details on each below.

Single strand of twisted bead fringe

First test is a single strand of twisted fringe (i.e. one looped fringe twisted). It is 30 beads long (60 beads total for the twisted fringe) on a 2x2 ladder stitch base and a 7 bead hanging loop. Color is silver lined lime green. Total length is a tad over 2 inches including the hanging loop. Made with a doubled thread - it has a hearty twist.

There's more information about how you can make a 2 strand fringe component at the link.

Twisted bead fringe turquoise drop pendant

My second test is three strands of twisted fringe made on a 2x6 brick base on a 20 gauge piece of wire that is shaped around a turquoise drop after the fringe is complete. The fringe is 20 beads long and slightly over 1 3/8 inches long. Made on a single strand of KO thread - I didn't get a good twist on all of the strands. I think this was problem with me knowing how to make the twists instead of it coming loose.  

Used two similar colors - opaque luster turquoise and opaque luster lagoon - changing color on the halfway of each strand looking to get a shadow effect. Overall it's a good idea - but I think the twisted fringe will be better shorter (15 beads) for a design like this with the drop and it was too loose. 

Twisted bead fringe earrings with daisy charm
Materials for this pair are:
- unknown brand size 11 beads in Opaque Matte Light Rose
- KO white thread (single)

There are 4 strands of twisted fringe, each side of the fringe loop is 15 beads long (30 beads total for 1 fringe), 2 drop brick stitch triangle top. The fringe is a little stiff, but the earrings are a little short. I added a charm dangle (daisy) on the earring wire just to make them a little more interesting. 

These seem 'stubby' in a single color, but they look cute on, so probably just need some pattern (thus why I tried adding the charm). Also, the tension is probably just a tad tight.

Twisted bead fringe earrings with gold bead accents

Toho round size 11 beads in same pink as above and Toho permafinish galvanized starlight (gold). Used Nymo size D in tan.

This fringe is 20 beads long and the last 3 beads on each side of the fringe is gold.  The fringe is supple with swing. These earrings look better on than off. 

Not sure if the suppleness of the fringe is better because my tension is better or because of the length. Probably both.

Twisted bead fringe earrings with rose gold bead accents

Toho size 11 round beads in opaque frost shrimp, Toho permafinish galvanized sweet blush (rose gold). Nymo size D in tan. Same 20 bead fringe length and 2 drop brick triangle base as above. 

I ran out of thread on the second earring because I kept forgetting which way to twist the fringe and cut off the first section I worked on. That hurts... but I'll add more thread and finish these.

For some reason I have a lot of size 11 round opaque pink beads. Just using what I have...
bead fringe earring bead chart diagram
Bead diagram for the last two designs created with Beadographer (link is to my article on Beadographer beading design tool).

Pink twisted bead fringe brick stitch earrings

This last earring is the same design but uses size 15 beads and has 5 strands of twisted fringe 25 beads long (2x10 ladder stitch base). KO thread in white, toho round size 15 in transparent light French rose and Ceylon innocent pink on top triangle and fringe ends. 

These have a nice supple fringe. They look good but I'd probably make the fringe longer for a more elegant earring. Not sure if I'll make the matching earring yet.

I like the size 15 fringe but might try it on a size 11 brick base. Or on a wire frame like below.

crescent moon bead earrings with twisted bead fringe

This design uses size 11 delica beads in Grey Denim which is a grey color with an iridescent finish. I got a little fancy here. I added a 22 gauge rose gold wire frame to a crescent moon bead. I shaped the frame to the outline of the bead. Then using Nymo size D in tan, added 10 rows of 2 drop brick stitch as a base for the fringe. 

I started with the shortest fringe first - which is 10 beads long and then added 3 beads on each fringe length so they are 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22 beads long. (remember the total beads for each fringe is double that - that is the length of the fringe hang). I finished each by adding a hanging loop and 20 gauge rose gold earring hook.

The fringe are a little stiff and the cylinder beads make them choppy. Might try this again with size 15 round beads and use KO thread (which has a softer drape). I think they are also stiff because of the tension. This design probably doesn't need 5 twisted fringe, but I have a thing about using odd numbers so not sure if I can make myself do 4 fringe on this design.

Once I started down the wire frame route, I decided to pull out some pre-made triangle frames.

These are 15 mm triangle frames in gold color. I added 8 columns of 2 drop brick stitch base which I used to anchor 4 different lengths of twisted fringe. The shortest fringe is 10 beads long and they each increase by 5 beads making the longest twisted fringe 25 beads long. The beads are size 11 charlottes in permanent gold (457-3). I used KO thread in sand color.

These earrings are fun, look great on and the fringe is loose and swingy. The charlottes give them sparkle. The success of these led me to try a similar design with size 15 charlottes.

These earrings use the same 15mm triangle frame (silver) with size 15 charlotte cut beads in black diamond AB. I had enough room to make a 2 drop base of 10 columns and made 5 lengths of twisted fringe that are 10, 15 and 20 beads long. The thread is KO thread in white.

The earrings looked a little plain, so I experimented with a picot edge around the other two sides. The fringe are great despite their short length.

Last, but certainly not least, are these neon danglers using the same 15 mm triangle frame (gold) with Matsuno size 11 beads in neon orange and green with KO thread in white. 

My first time using Matsuno beads and I was pleasantly surprised. They are slightly more irregular than Miyuki rounds but I don't think it affected the design adversely. The bright colors really show off the twist.

If you made it this far - congratulations! You must be interested in twisted fringe.

I'm taking the neon twisted fringe out for a test drive today. It will distract from the bad hair day.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! Now if I can only figure out how to use it! Still playing with this.