Make Your Own Hair Barrettes

Fashionable hair barrettes are easy to make with only a few supplies and a lot of creativity - these tips and instructions will show you how.

Colorful hair barrettes are versatile fashion accessories for girls and women of all ages. Styles range from simple to complex, colorful to monochrome, understated to themed. Purchased individually, barrettes can cost from one to five dollars or more apiece, but with a few basic supplies and general know-how, it is easy to design your own for a fraction of the cost.

Creating Hair Barrettes: Basic Styles

There are two general barrette styles to choose from: those that clip by sliding a metal tongue into a groove, and those that clip by pressing two side pieces together. Sliding barrettes are generally smaller and can hold only a small portion of hair, and they are more discreet than larger designs. Clip barrettes come in a range of sizes to hold different amounts of hair, and while they are bulkier, they are easier to work with because the different pieces of the clip can be removed while it is decorated. Sliding barrettes, on the other hand, are a single piece and cannot be disassembled.

When choosing which style to decorate, consider the purpose of the barrette. If it will be holding most or all of the wearer's hair, a larger style may be more appropriate. If the wearer is young, however, a smaller style may suffice, though it will eventually be too small. Larger clip barrettes demand more elaborate decoration, while subtle styles work better with sliding designs.

Creating Hair Barrettes: Adhesives

Hair barrettes can be assembled with glue or twine. Smaller barrettes should use either hot glue or fabric glue, because there is very little space for twine to wrap around the barrette's body. Before applying glue, lightly scuff the barrette with sandpaper to create a rough surface, which will adhere better than polished metal. Use glue sparingly - excess globs can interfere with how the barrette closes, or may snag on hair while being worn. It is prudent to test glue beforehand to insure that it will adhere to all the different materials used to create the barrette.

Clear twine is an alternative to glue, and is best for creating large ribbon barrettes. If necessary, coordinating colored thread can be used, but it may fray against the edges of the barrette or stretch with use. Small accessories and accents can still be attached with glue.

Creating Hair Barrettes: Working With Ribbon

The majority of hair barrettes are comprised of ribbon loops, cut or uncut, that run the length of the barrette. Wire-edged ribbon is the easiest to use because the loops can be shaped. Stiff ribbon of any width is also a good choice, but should be used for smaller loops because it stands upright. Soft ribbon creates very flat loops, and gives an elegant appearance to any hair accessory.

To add variety to a barrette, form the base with one size of solid-colored ribbon, then add smaller contrasting ribbon in different size loops in between the base loops. The smaller ribbon could be cut to provide additional texture, or several coordinating colors can create a rainbow or other color scheme. If ribbons are cut, be sure the edges are neat and dab them with a small amount of glue to prevent fraying. Diagonal cuts are easiest and provide a touch of flair to the piece.

Another possibility with ribbon is to weave two colors across the barrette's surface, creating a lattice pattern rather than loops. This works best with small or sliding barrettes, because there is less need to hide the barrette. Lengths of ribbon can be braided at the end and accented by beads, or simply left to dangle as an additional highlight. Do not leave dangles too lengthy, as they are prone to knotting or tangling with hair and could be uncomfortable.

Whether looping or weaving ribbon, always keep the inner surface of the barrette as smooth as possible so it will not snag on hair. A smoother surface also leaves the maximum amount of room for hair, so the barrette can be used in a variety of styles instead of just a simple accent. Color choice is virtually unlimited, and colors can be chosen to match holidays, sports teams, school colors, or other themes. Patterned ribbons can be used for larger barrettes and may not require any additional details in order to create an elegant style.

Creating Hair Barrettes: Alternative Accents

Many items can be used to create hair barrettes other than ribbon. For a sleek design, glue a length of colored cord or braid along the back of the barrette without loops or other details. The cord should be wider than the surface of the barrette, and trim the ends neatly. Large buttons or beads can also create a barrette without ribbon, and wider surfaces can be used to attach more items. Many colors, shapes, and designs are available, from animals and letters to faux gems. If using buttons, trim loops off the back with wire cutters and use sandpaper to carefully eliminate sharp edges. Hot glue is the best choice to attach plastic or metal supplies because it adheres quickly and strongly, but use caution to prevent damaging the pieces.

Accents can easily be added to ribbon-based barrettes. Strings of pearls, themed wooden cutouts, pompons, small silk flowers, beads, and even bells or gems make interesting additions that coordinate with the barrette's design, theme, or colors. Textured fabrics such as tulle, netting, or gossamer materials are other ways to add variety and distinction to a hair barrette. Always be sure that accents are fastened firmly to the barrette to prevent loss, and be aware that small items may become choking hazards for small children if they do detach.

Stylish hair barrettes are quick and easy to make. One trip to a craft or sewing store yields all the necessary supplies: barrettes, ribbons, glue, beads, accents and more. With such a variety to choose from, the only limits are the imagination of the creator and the fashion sense of the wearer.

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