3 DIY Jewelry Tutorials Using Unexpected Materials

For months, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making jewelry. With the holidays coming up, I have the perfect excuse, as there are several women on my list who love jewelry and accessories and for whom I’d like to make gifts myself. I wanted to created pieces that were simple enough for anyone to replicate — including me — in case I decide to make more of them for myself.

I came up with three jewelry tutorials. But not just any jewelry. These pieces are made using materials you might not expect: safety pins, hairpins and a t-shirt.

Safety Pin Bracelet

What You Need

  • 100-200 one-inch safety pins
  • Glass beads
  • Elastic jewelry cording

Step 1: Add beads to safety pins

The first step is also the most tedious. However, getting it done makes all subsequent steps a breeze. Open a single safety pin and slide your beads onto it until you get to the end of the open section. Close the pin. Rinse and repeat. A lot.

A bracelet that fit my wrist required about 100 safety pins and easily more than 1000 beads. But the look is totally worth it in the end.

Step 2: String pins together

You’ll need to cut two pieces of elastic cord to fit your wrist. Give yourself about 4 inches of breathing room on each piece so the bracelet won’t fit your wrist too tight and so you’ll have room to pull and tie the cord together when you’re finished stringing the safety pins together.

Put the end of one cord through the hole at the top of the safety pin. Put the end of the second piece of cord through the hole at the bottom of the pin. Move onto the next pin, reversing its position. In this case, put the first cord through the bottom hole and the second cord through the top hole. They’ll end up staggered, like this:

After you’ve added a few pins, it may help to tie a loose knot at one end of the cords so the pins don’t start falling off.

Step 3: Close the bracelet

Once you’ve added all your beaded pins, pull the bracelet into a circle shape. Tie the ends of the top cord and the ends of the bottom cord together tightly, so you won’t see the knot once the bracelet is finished.

Finally, cut off any excess length and rejoice, because you’re done!

The finished bracelet is really pretty, and worn on a wrist, you’d never guess it was made from safety pins! It’s also a lot more comfortable to wear than you might expect.

Hair Pin Bib Necklace

What You’ll Need

  • Black ribbon
  • Tons of hairpins
  • Scissors

This is definitely the easiest of the three tutorials, but the finished look is chic and polished.

Cut a length of black ribbon to fit around your neck. It needs to be slightly longer than choker length, plus an extra 4-6″ to allow you to tie the ribbon in a bow.

Begin hanging your hairpins on the ribbon. If you are using hairpins in a variety of colors, feel free to alternate them to create the pattern of your choosing. At equal intervals, tie a knot in the ribbon tightly against the preceding pins.

I did a knot after every 36 pins. Be sure to tie a knot both before the first pins and after the last pins. The end knots will stop the pins from sliding off the ribbon.

You can tie more or fewer knots depending on the look and pattern you’re going for, but some knots are essential. They will help hold the hairpins in place and stop the ribbon from kinking when you tie it around your neck.

Simple, but absolutely gorgeous! I would wear this to a holiday party in a heartbeat! I prefer to wear it with the smooth side of the hairpins showing, as the wavy side makes it more obvious that they are hairpins.

Almost No-Sew Braided T-Shirt Necklace

What You’ll Need

  • T-shirt (the bigger the shirt, the longer the necklace)
  • Sewing machine or needle and coordinating thread
  • Sharp fabric scissors

Step 1: Make t-shirt strips

I’ve seen my fair share of t-shirt necklaces, but I was surprised by how easy this was to make! I started with this tutorial from Melissa Esplin and put my own spin on it.  I chose to use a men’s XXL t-shirt, but you can use whatever you have laying around.

Lay your t-shirt flat, and cut off the bottom hem. Cut 1-2″ wide strips across the width of the shirt until you reach the armpits. You should wind up with 8-9 strips. Cut off the sleeves. Cut 1 or two strips across the chest of the t-shirt, which you will use to tie the others together (these cuts not shown in the photo below).

The strips are currently circles, as they’re attached by the seams from the sides of the shirt. Cut each piece open at one end so you have a long strip rather than a circle. Stretch each strip so the edges will begin to curl toward one another.

You’ll be surprised at how long the strips will get once stretched. After I stretched, I thought mine were actually too long, so I cut them in half. You’ll end up with what looks like t-shirt spaghetti.

Step 2: Braid

Bunch your 8-9 strips together, making sure that the ends are properly aligned. Using one of the extra strips you cut from the chest area of the shirt, tie a tight knot around the end of the bunch of strips, securing them together. Cut off the excess.

Find a way to secure the end of your bunch of strips so you can begin braiding. You can pin them to something large, like your bed or a sofa. You’ll need to secure it well so you can pull snugly while braiding.

Separate the bunch of strips into three sections. I only had 8 strips, so I had two sets of 3 strips each and one set of 2 strips.

Braid an 8-9″ length of your strips. You can do more or less, depending on how much of your necklace you want to be braided. I wanted a little less than half of the entire necklace braided.

Once you’ve reached your desired braid length, wrap rest of the extra strip from the chest area of the shirt tightly around the end of the braid several times.

Tie the ends together in the back, and tuck them into the folds so they are neat and secure.

Step 3: Finish it off

If you lay the necklace so the ends touch, you’ll see that you have what almost looks like a necklace.

To complete it, lay the ends together so they overlap as flat as possible — braided end on top and loose strips beneath. Tie the second extra strip from the chest area of the shirt tightly around the entire bundle and wrap 2-3 times to make sure it is as secure as possible. Cut off any excess ends.

Cut a 4-5″ square of fabric from one of the sleeves. Fold it in thirds.

Wrap this rectangle around the place where the two ends of your necklace meet, with the folded side of the square showing. This will become a fabric sleeve to cover the raw edges. With your sewing machine or needle and thread (I did this by hand), sew the sleeve closed.

Stitch tight against the bundle it encloses, but not super tight, since you’ll need some room to maneuver. Cut off the excess. Finally, push your fingers inside the fabric sleeve and flip it inside out so the seam is hidden on the inside.

Admire your handiwork!

The finished necklace is an incredibly sophisticated look, and I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll be doing with every old, disposable t-shirt I have from now on!

If you try any of these projects, I’d love to see the outcome. Feel free to post a link to your photo or blog post in the comments below!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for sharing a project of my choosing with you. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.

By jennae

Hi! I'm Jennae Petersen and I'm the eco diva who had the bright idea to share my journey toward green living with the blogosphere. Some of you may know me as the founder of Green Your Decor, my blog about eco-friendly home decor, as a Walmart Mom, from Twitter or from my organic cotton t-shirt line Differently Clothing. Stick around for a while!


  1. Loved this so much!! I am going to do this now or try lol. I am so happy to have found this and it is so easy to follow! Great tutorial. Just what I need to make a baby nursing necklace so he will not hurt his little fingers in my metal necklaces.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.