Spirograph Necklace Tutorial

So, here’s the tutorial on how to make the Swirl Spirograph Plastic Canvas Necklace, such as:

Now, this is my first ever tutorial, so please forgive me if I’m too pedantic or if I’ve confused you.  I’m happy to answer any and all questions.  If it sounds like I’m talking down to you, I promise, I’m just going for clarity and I don’t think you’re an idiot. Also, all pictures are linked to larger versions of the images, so if you need a closer look, just click on the picture.

Full tutorial is below cut.

First, you have to find the round, plastic canvas.  I’m not sure whether any big chains carry them, but I know you can find them online at:

Hobby Lobby:  http://shop.hobbylobby.com/products/plastic-canvas-shapes-round-310565/

The circles I’ve found are 2 and 7/8ths” in diameter, but anything in the 3″ range should do fine.  Just make sure that there are 2+ rings that have the spokes aligned and the same number of squares in each ring.

Next, take one circle and figure out how large you want your finished piece to be.  At minimum, you need 2 rings of canvas, but you can have as many additional rings as you like.  At the request of my mom (who I made this piece for), she wanted a very large necklace, so I decided to use the outer-most rings and leave 3 rings.

Next, cut out the inner circle.  Since I wanted the 3 outer-most rows, I cut through the 4th row, using sturdy, old scissors to carefully cut as close to the edge of the third row as possible, so as to remove as much of the spokes of the canvas as possible; you don’t need a perfect inner edge, since it will be covered, but it’s better not to leave any jagged edges.

If you want a smaller necklace, you could use just the 3rd and 4th rings (from the outside) and cut off the unnecessary outer two rings, as well as the inner circle.  Also, make sure that all the spokes on your rings match up.  If you look in the first picture below, you’ll see how the inner most ring only has 4 squares, the second ring only 8, and it increases to 48 by the outer rings.

Next, select your string colors.  However many squares your rings have, you want to pick a number of color sections that is evenly divisible into the number of squares in your ring.  Now, I say color sections, rather than colors, because you could have colors that get used multiple times, but what you want to be counting is each section.  For example, in the second photograph below, I used4 colors, but used each color 3 times, meaning I have 12 color sections.  The number of colors you use doesn’t matter, the number of individual sections does.

My canvas has 48 squares, so I opted to go with 6 color sections, selecting 6 colors to use one time each.

So, count up the number of squares in one ring of your canvas.  Now, take the number of squares and divide it by the number of color sections.  So, as a formula it’s:

[# of squares] / [# of color sections] = X.

For me, my canvas had 48 squares and 6 color sections, so X=8.

X is the number of cross-strings you’ll use for each color.  In the picture below, that single light purple string is counted as one cross-string.

So, cut a piece of string in your first color.  As for lengths to use, it’s going to vary depending on what your X is, but 18″ – 24″ should be plenty.

Thread your string up through a hole in the inner-most ring.  Now, more counting.  Take X and double it, then subtract 1 [ (X*2) - 1].  This is how many squares you want between the connecting points of the cross-string.  So, for me, X=8, so I leave 15 spaces between my connecting points.

Next, bring the needle up through the square one to the right and cross the hole in the canvas to bring the needle down through the hole one to the right of your original starting point.

Now to fix your end string, just be sure to tie it down by slipping it under the loop between the 2nd and 3rd cross-strings, like so:

Now, do laying cross-strings across the front of your piece, moving one square to the right on both ends.  You shouldn’t have any cross-strings across the back of the piece, just the front; the back of the piece just serves to move your string one square to the right. Once you have X number of cross-strings (for me, 8), its’ time to move onto a different color section.

Pick up with your new color one square to the right of where you left off.  You’ll probably have the lose string from the previous color dangling about back there, but just secure it like you did before, by tying it down between cross-strings 2 and 3 of your new color (picture 2 below).

Do X number of cross strings in this new color-section, then switch to your third color.  Now, you’ll see in the photograph below that when beginning your third color-section, you’ve now caught up with the other end of your first color section cross-strings.  Don’t worry, just overlap across the 1st color section and keep moving your way around the circle, like you’ve been doing, moving one square to the right for each cross-string.

Keep doing it the same way with the 4th color section.

Now, in the 5th color section is where things get a bit tricky.  Or, if you’re using different numbers of color sections, when you come up on your very first cross-string in your very first color section.

Place your first cross-string like normal.  However, when you come up to begin the second cross-string, you’re going to want to go underneath that 1st cross-string in the 1st color section, like so:

On the 3rd cross-string, you’ll want to pass under 2 of the 1st color cross-strings, like so:

And so on on around the circle, for both the 5th and 6th color section:

And after the 6th section, your piece should look roughly like the picture below.  If any of your cross-lines are out of line, you can take your needle and straighten them a bit.


So, that was the difficult part and now you’re ready to move along to familiar territory.  Now you simply take the 2 or 3 rings remaining and cross stitch, straight stitch, or whatever until you’re happy with the pattern and visibility of the plastic.  For mine below, I did an inner row of darker pink cross stitches, then an outer row of lighter pink cross stitches.

Now, what I like to do when I do that first row of cross stitch on the inner ring is pick up the threads on the back, wrapping our current thread around and under all the threads we used on the cross-lines.  This helps secure those cross-string threads and makes the back look a little nicer.

After that, cross stitch as usual.

And see how nice and neat the back looks:

I then added another row of cross stitch in a lighter color (no need to pick up the back threads on a second row).  Now, if you only started with two rings of plastic camvas, you won’t have room for a second row of cross stitch, which is simply an aesthetic choice.

I also added some white straight stitches between the rows of cross stitch, just to cover up a bit more of the plastic canvas peeking through.

Finally, we’re going to cover up the outer edge of plastic canvas, which is by far my least favorite part of this process.  It’s totally aesthetic, so if you don’t mind the edge of plastic canvas showing, you can easily chose to skip this step.  It’s not difficult, it’s just tedious.

Simply wrap your way around the outer edge, going up through hole 1 and around the outside and then going up through hole 2, then around the outside and up through hole 3.  Do this all the way around, then reverse and go back the other direction, up through hole 48 around the edge and the up through hole 47, then around and up through 46, etc.  You can repeat this step as many times as you like until you’re happy with the coverage of the plastic canvas.  I’m usually happy with 3 rings, around, back, and around once more (so, you’ll technically have twice as many threads going in one direction than the other).

Then I’ll do one final row of straight stitches along the outer ring of plastic canvas. On this piece, I was simply going for coverage of the plastic canvas, so I used the same color as I used on the outer wrapping, but you could easily do the straight stitches in a different color for a different pattern.

And now you’re pretty much done.  When I finish a piece, I will run it under water to get all the threads thoroughly wet and allow the piece to dry between multiple sheets of paper towels, held down with a heavy book, which will help the threads to even out and make sure the piece wears flat.  Then, simply place a jump ring through one of the holes in the plastic canvas and wear proudly.  Pictures below of the front and the back (and me).

Now, the spiral is just one pattern of many.  I have spent hours threading and then un-threading pieces because I didn’t like the pattern or my math and counting skills failed me.  Play around and see what you come up with.  I’d love to see other people’s versions!

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Posted on October 4, 2010, in Stitching, Tutorials. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I love the colors of the necklace you used in the tutorial.

  2. Great tutorial, will have to go get some circles to try this out on asap!

  3. These are so cool! Love the pinks/purples

  4. beautifulllllllllllllllllllllll!

  5. wonderful design, wonderful instructions and wonderful pictures. Thank-you!

  6. LOVE these, Erin!! I want to try making them, myself. It’s O from Jack’s Crafts. It was a blast to meet you today. I’m really digging your blog and want to spend some more time on it, enjoying your lovely work. Looking forward to getting to know you and make things with you. I’ll let you know how the spirograph pieces go. I adore spirographs and I’m right now, in fact, embroidering one onto a cloth towel for a friend. I’ll send you the link when I blog about. Have a great week & more later! ~ O

  7. I loved the look of the spiral and luckily have some 3″ circles to have a go. I am right in thinking that I can get to necklaces 1 large and 1 small out of one circle of plastic.

  8. Great tutorial! I’m going to have to look for those circular canvases.

  9. I absolutely love the design on this webpage. Can you let me know where you can get it? Many thanks!

    • It’s through WordPress, using the theme Mystique. The image is from a free photo site (I’m afraid I can’t remember where, it’s been awhile) of a barn door that I imported into the Mystique theme to use as the background.

  10. Helen Lahmeyer

    Love it. I will be anxious to try it after I finish the major project I am on right now – an Easter door hanging in plastic canvas. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is beautiful work. I’d like to do earrings like this. Is there a way?
    Wanda

  12. That was a great tutorial!!! OMG that is the cutest thing ever! Brings back spirograph memories from the late 60’s early 70’s .
    You are fabulous! Thank you… I am gonna make one!

  13. omg!i was searching for ideas like these …great job! i really love it.. im thinking of making one for me or maybe as a nice charm for my car.

  14. Always love to see a new take on an old tradition…..not my grandmother’s plastic canvas pattern. Awesome ideas. Got to run out today and pick up plastic canvas. Thanks

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