I have been refining my chew necklace technique since I first started making Chew necklaces a couple of years ago now. I finally have a necklace I'm really happy with. It takes me about 10 minutes to make a complete necklace (12 minutes if I need to cut t-shirt strips). I like these necklaces a lot. They have circumvented some of the big problems I had with the commercial chew necklaces. The Chew Letters, Chewelry and other items quickly became choking hazards as my son would crack the beads or tubes within the first 6-8 hours. Also, his teachers and I found that saliva would drip down onto the table as he worked because the tubes and beads were not absorbent.
I looked online for ideas for DIY chew necklaces, but I had concerns with the t-shirt necklaces I found because they didn't have a breakaway clasp. I started with paracord clasps and braided my son's preferred material (t-shirt) around the paracord, but each necklace took 45 minutes to break and lasted 4-6 washings before they looked terrible and I wanted to replace them. What I really wanted was something fast to create, machine washable, and cheap.
Today I have a solution I'm totally happy with. I have found a clasp that breaks away effectively, but doesn't require that I use paracord. Note: It isn't the one in the picture, below (with my dog). The clasp in that picture is from Hobby Lobby and though it is called a breakaway buckle, I tested it and I was unable to get it to pop apart. I have stopped using those clasps in favor of these, from Amazon.
I did find and purchase a super cheap Chinese version of this clasp, and I have tested them for lead, using a 3M lead test swab and they tested negative, this time, but use at your own risk. The clasps from China look and feel exactly the same, and they are significantly cheaper, however, you run the risks of purchasing from China, where the manufacturing standards differ greatly. Given that the clasps are reusable many times over, compared to the t-shirt strips they hold, make your best choice on which one you want to get, based on your own concerns and expectations.
previous blog post with the more intricate and time consuming chew necklaces, as well as the aforementioned bags.
In order to make the t-shirt strip creation process slightly faster, I do use a rotary cutter. I purchased this one on Amazon.
- Rotary Cutter
- T-shirts cut into 1 inch strips
- Chip Clip, or something else to hold the end while you braid
Step By Step Instructions:Begin by cutting your 1 inch width t-shirt strips. I cut 10-12 Men's XXL t-shirts up at a time, but you can cut as few as 5 strips to get started.
Stack the five loops one on top of the other, then make the end as tight and wrinkle free as you can.
This forms the knot that will secure the beginning of your braid to the clasp. According to my research, this type of knot is known as a Larks head knot. It will be used to secure both ends of the necklace to the clasp.
Once you have the knot secured, use the chip clip or whatever securing device you have and secure the clasp end so you can begin braiding. Do your best to line the loops up so they aren't too tangled and place 1 loop each on the index, middle and ring finger of your left hand (Pictured below with tan, blue and yellow loops) and the index and middle finger of your right hand (pictured below with the black and red loops).
Then, using your ring finger on your right hand, go through the ring and middle finger loops on your left hand, then bring your right ring finger OVER the left hand index finger loop and hook the t-shirt strand. This puts a half twist in the loop as it pulls it back, which helps make the braid. Bring it back through the other loops on the left hand to complete the first pass in the braid. You should now have loops on the index, middle and ring finger of your RIGHT hand and the middle and ring finger of your left hand. Bring the loops way out to the side, to tighten the braid by moving the weaving close to the clasp.
You now need to shift the loops up one finger each on your left hand, freeing the ring finger up to do the same pass from the opposite side. Once you have the loops on your index and middle finger, use your ring finger on your left hand to go through the ring and middle finger loops on the right hand, then over the right hand index finger loop, hooking the strand and taking it back through the other loops. Walk the two remaining strands up one finger each and you should be back where you started. Again, bring the loops way out to the side, to tighten the braid by moving the weaving close to the clasp. Keep alternating that pattern until you have about 1.5-2 inches worth of loop left at the end.
Pull the remaining loops back through the other end of the clasp with the back of the clasp facing you. Group the 5 loops together and after separating the two pieces of the clasp pass the end that has already been used to create a larks head knot through the loops on the other side. Pull them tight and you should have a second larks head knot on the other side of the clasp. This completes your chew necklace.
My Sincere thanks to Loop Braider on YouTube whose tutorial taught me the 5 loop square braid I use in this video. For more details on the braid mechanics, or to try other braids in your necklace, check out her tutorials.