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How To Make Faux Leather Tassels

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When a box of faux leather arrived from Fabric.com, it ended up sitting on the floor next to a paper shredder. I had to wonder: do these two things mix? At the risk of having the evidence permanently ensnarled in the teeth of the old paper shredder, I fed it a swatch of faux leather, stopping with a half inch remaining uncut. I used the reverse switch to remove it, and ended up with a nice little fringe. Where the shredder didn't cut all the way through, it scored it well enough that it took less than two minutes to finish using scissors. The result: perfect fringe. Roll it up and you get a pretty tassel.

Fabric and Other Supplies

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For one tassel:

  • ONE 8" x 3" scrap of faux leather. We used Faux Leather Fabric Bison Fudge from Fabric.com
  • ONE large bead cap (16-18mm) – flexible bronze and copper work best. (You can find bead caps at beading supply stores, most craft stores, and online. The best source I've found for the large flexible bronze and copper bead caps is  Etsy. Copper and bronze bead caps are very inexpensive and you should find many pretty options.)
  • ONE 6" piece of thin waxed cotton cord or leather lace (Confirm that your cord, when looped, fits through the hole in the bead cap. You can use an awl to make the hole a little bigger if necessary.)
  • Fabric glue (not spray)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Optional: paper shredder (standard strip shredder)

Make the Tassel Fringe

Confession: these are the first two tassels I've made this way, so I consider the concept a work in progress. In other words, we're beta testing these tassels prior to using them in an upcoming project.

  1. For a chunky three-inch tassel like those shown, cut an 8" x 3" piece of faux leather. (You can make your tassels thinner or longer by adjusting how you cut your faux leather.)
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  2. Use a fabric pen or piece of masking tape to mark the top half inch of the faux leather rectangle – this is the area that will remain uncut:
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Option 1: Paper Shredder

Caution: The S4H studio has two paper shredders. One worked better than the other, but neither jammed. After using it to make two tassels, the paper shredder still shredded paper perfectly. However, this is a very limited test, so do this at your own risk. Cutting the faux leather with my rotary cutter was like cutting butter – an easy clean cut. I can't say, however, that using your shredder on faux leather will not dull your paper shredder blades.

  1. With one finger on the start/stop button evenly feed the faux leather into a paper shredder. WATCH CAREFULLY and hit stop when the tape is just at the blades. Hit reverse to back the piece out. My ancient shredder cut either fully or partly into the faux leather. It's worth a practice run or two with a piece of paper until you've got the rhythm down.
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  2. Where it doesn't cut all the way through, it does score the faux leather nicely, making a perfect channel for cutting through with your scissors. 
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Option 2: Scissors

It takes longer to make the fringe with scissors, and the results were slightly less perfect. But when rolled up, the test scissor-cut fringe looked almost as nice as the paper shredder finge.

  1. You can use a fabric marking pen to draw lines approximately 10mm (or ³⁄₈") apart on the back of your faux leather rectangle. If you have a good eye and a steady hand, you can just hand cut the fringe without marking.

Assemble Your Tassel

  1. Cut a piece of your thin cord approximately 6½" long. Tie a tight knot in either end. The knots keep the loop from pulling through the bead cap.
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  2. With your fringe backing side up, apply a THIN strip of fabric glue as shown:
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  3. Loop the knotted cord as shown, offseting the knots:
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  4. Roll the fringe tightly so there are no gaps, but not to the point where you are straining the fabric.
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  5. Hold for a minute or two until the glue sets enough to hold the tassel together.
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  6. Feed the loop in the cord through the center of the bead. I used an unfolded paperclip to help push it through.
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  7. Add a small amount of glue to the top sides of the tassel where it will be hidden beneath the bead cap. Move the bead cap all the way down onto the tassel and hold for a minute while the glue sets.
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Hints and Tips

The photo below shows two flexible copper bead caps and two non-flexible metal caps (the cone shape). Either works, but the flexible caps are much easier to work with and can be crimped to fit if needed.
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Comments (13)

wendy said:
wendy's picture

Shredder idea did not work and broke my shredder would not suggest this 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ wendy - so sorry you had trouble with this technique. It is indeed how we made our sample, and as mentioned/shown above, we tried two different standard home/office shredders. Both worked without jamming. We certainly wouldn't have offered it as an option if we'd had any problems. So sorry that happened to you... but I guess there are always scissors. 

Maurene said:
Maurene 's picture

These are great! And, I just saved my old shredder from going into the thrift store pile!

Val Charman said:
Val Charman's picture

Thank you so much for this! very well put together tutorial  x x x

HelenClare said:
HelenClare's picture

What a fantastically well put together 'how to' demo.  Brilliant. 

Brenda Sanders said:
Brenda Sanders's picture
What a unique use for a shredder! I'm gonna have to think about what I could use these on, they are so different and cute.
LB said:
LB's picture
Love this idea and have just made a couple with faux suede now too. so many uses.smilies/wink.gif
Wag Doll said:
Oh I love these, will have to be the scissors option for me though as my shredder is a cross shredder, so chops into tiny squares lol!
lot2sew said:
lot2sew's picture
Great idea! Now I have a use for my old strip type paper shredder that's been sitting around my craft room.
tpill02 said:
tpill02's picture
these tassels are so chic. they'd be great dangling from a matching faux leather handbag or tote, or nice on the handle of an armoire for a more masculine/modern look than a traditional satiny tassel.