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How to make tribal-looking hair tassels
an informal tutorial
by LJ user Prosewitch

-cool, funky yarn
-embroidery floss
-needle & thread
-cowries, peacock feathers, and other accents
-a T-shirt you can cut up

Okay, so you want to figure out the desired tassel length, and loop the yarn such that you've got 3 top loops to work with (6 strands altogether). You can vary the number of strands, but I like this number, three being a ritual number and all. Cut a strip of T-shirt hem about the same length as your desired tassel length, and line it up so that the end of the T-shirt strip is a few inches below the top loop of your tassel. (FYI, the T-shirt I'm using is a dark green, which isn't too visible against the color of the yarn, but you can see it more clearly in the finishing step)

Starting out, it should look something like this:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Here's basically the same shot:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Oh yeah, and if you're neurotic like me, you'll want to cut the yarn for both tassels of a pair at the same time to make sure they're exactly the same. Yay symmetry!

Next, get your embroidery floss and knot it around the base of the loop, leaving a bit of the T-shirt strip sticking out over it. It'll look something like this:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Then, just wrap the embroidery floss around the strands of yarn & T-shirt. Aim for a tight wrap, though I'm so impatient I don't do a 100% even wrap, and sometimes I double back on my wrapping, and it works out okay. To switch colors, knot off the color you're working on, tie on the new color, and proceed. Here's what that looks like:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Finishing it is a little tricky. You want to leave a little over 2 inches of T-shirt wrap before trying to finish it. If you want a super-thick tassel at the bottom, cut more yarn to the length you want, then put the top loop of that yarn on the T-shirt strip, and fold the strip upward so that the yarn is secured within it. Now you can finish the tassel by wrapping the embroidery floss downward and knotting it so that the T-shirt strip, now bulging with extra yarn, is entirely covered. Oh, and that's when you would add peacock feathers too, but they're tricky and I haven't tried to put them in a tassel yet.

Here's how the last step looks:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

To add cowrie shells, just sew them into the tassel wherever you like. I generally do four or five on the same row, and then add on upward as I please.

Here are two shots of my just-finished magenta/purple/green tassels (with 2 rows of cowrie shells at the very bottom, and 2 more rows slightly further up):
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

I made the red/black tassels a few days ago, and in addition to cowrie shells, I adorned them with wide-mouthed silver beads I was able to slip up over the yarn and T-shirt:
Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

Tribal Bellydance Hair Tassel Tutorial

A lot of this is personal preference--for instance, I don't make the loops at the top of my tassels very big because I don't have a lot of hair to get them over, and I've found that using a toothed clip works fine to secure the tassels in my hair. I'm also not much of a seamstress, so my work is a little sloppy, but I figure it'll improve with practice.

One thing I've been wondering about is whether I should wrap the top yarn loops with embroidery floss to improve their strength and durability... part of me is too lazy to do it till there's a problem, though...

Okay... any feedback? Was this helpful?