Tassels are a useful addition to many needlework projects. Christmas ornaments and pillows come to mind right away! Also bellpulls, banners, and other wall hangings. They're useful for pulls on windowshades and ceiling fans and strictly as a "decorator" item on doorknobs and drawpulls. I have a lot of string instruments hanging on my walls, and I looped a fat tassel on a long cord around the scroll of the instruments and used that as a hanging loop on a nail; I think it looks kinda neat!
To make a tassel, cut a piece of cardboard 1/2" longer than you want the tassel to be. Wrap the floss or pearl cotton around the cardboard until it's a full as you like (remember that you see only half the tassel on one side of the cardboard; it'll be twice as thick when you're finished).
Thread a piece of floss (at least 6" long) between the cardboard and the floss loops and tie a knot. This will be the hanging thread for the tassel. Slip the loops off the cardboard carefully.
Now you need to bind the tassel at the top, just below the hanging loop. A simple way to do this is to wrap the floss around and then thread each end in a needle and "bury" it. A second way is to find an old salt and have her show you how to "seize the end of a line." It's a clever method of laying a loop on first, then doing the winding, threading the final cut end of the thread through the loop and pulling on the first cut end so both cut ends are neartly buried. (If I can draw it well enough, I'll put up a gif here later.)
After completing the winding, cut the other end of the loops and trim the ends so they're even. You're done!
Experiment by putting metallics or other interesting fibers in your tassel. Especially if you are using twisted cord of more than one color for your project, you might want a multi-colored tassel, too. Consider the addition of beads and other items.
From time to time, needlework magazines have articles on fancy tassels or instructions are included as a finishing technique for another project. Also see Thérèse de Dillmont's "Encyclopedia of Needlework" (DMC) for exotic tassel styles.
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
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