French Beaded Flower Hair Clip Tutorial & My New Dendrobium Orchid Pattern

My daughter is six, and she’s starting to actually like bows and hair clips and cute headbands. Until just a couple months ago they were “stupid”. So, I decided to make her a French Beaded one that she could wear at church or other special occasions, or maybe even at school every once and a while. And while I was making them, I figured I could teach all of you the basics of how to make them. Instead of putting a billion pictures in a really long blog post, I made a free PDF tutorial that you can download from my Free Pattern Library page.

I am counting this tutorial as my September pattern publication because I’m behind on other stuff.

These are not the first hair accessories I’ve made. In fact, that’s how I started out with French Beading. I sold hair accessories on Etsy for years, mostly for weddings or prom. Hair combs, hair vines, hair clips, bobby pins, hair pins, headbands, barrettes… You can see a little slide show of hair accessories I’ve made in years past below. But, I’ve had some time to consider how to fix certain issues that come up.

Note: I used to operate under the name “Lauren’s Creations”, so these are all my works, just with different logos attached.

For now I’m just teaching the little hair clips I made for my daughter in the tutorial. I do plan to teach other types of accessories in full at a later time, but I thought for now it might be helpful to go over some things about accessories in general to give you guys a starting point for other types of accessories. There are a few considerations to keep in mind while making French Beaded Flowers accessories: Sturdiness, Weight, Wire Bulk, and Comfort.


Accessories are handled more than the flowers we make for arrangements. Especially if that accessory is given to a child. They fiddle with things. A lot. Wire is strong, but it does break if you bend it back and forth over and over. So I would not ever use a 26g wire for accessories. 24 or 22 gauge will do the trick. Depending on what techniques you are using, you might also consider lacing the petals together for extra security. But make sure the wire you are using is a high quality wire. Cheaper wires are usually easier to break.

In addition to holding up well, sturdiness also pertains to how the flower is attached to the accessory. Over the years I’ve used a lot of different attachment methods. Wire, thread, glue, floss, ribbon… Wire can break, and thread can wear down, shred, fuzz up, and break, too. And sometimes glue just fails and wears out. Bottom line, all attachment methods are capable of failing over time or due to mishandling. Choose whichever method you think will be easiest for someone to re-do.

A lot of the time I just use glue – specifically something like a 2-part jewelry epoxy or E6000. I’ve used hot glue too, though those always tend to fall apart within a year or two. But, then again others say that epoxy and E6000 fall apart, even though I’ve never had any of those fall apart even after years and years, and have never had hot glue fail. So, test several glues and see which ones you like best. But I would avoid a lot of super glues, as I’ve had bead finishes and colors affected by super glues in very negative ways. I know a lot of you are strongly against glue, because it’s “lower quality.” And I disagree with you in this instance. If a wire or thread breaks – and they do! – not everyone has the skills to reattach a new wire or thread. They would probably purchase the wrong kind, and may not be able to figure out how to redo it securely or cleanly. But… pretty much everyone can use glue, so it’s super easy to re-attach. I also like glue because then you can use a bezel tray and the entire underside of the flower is covered up and concealed, which is more attractive to me.

But, they do make hair clip blanks with perforated discs or filigrees attached. You could easily sew a flower to one of these with thread instead of gluing them into a bezel cup. I’m not a fan of wire attachments on these little discs and filigrees, though. Wire isn’t as flexible as thread, so it’s harder to sew it in and out of the tight places without forming kinks or scratching up the wire – both of which will make it more likely to break. When I’ve used thread, I usually use Fireline because that’s what I already have on hand for bead-weaving.

As you can see in these photos, there are lots of different accessory blanks that you can attach flowers to. When I first started, none of these were available (at least not that I could find anywhere). So I made my own by soldering bezels and perforated discs onto hair clips. Now they come already made.


Beaded flowers are heavy. French Beaded ones are heavier than bead-woven ones due to the wire. Most people don’t want to wear heavy objects on their heads, especially if that person is a child. (At least not for very long. Maybe just to snap a few pictures.) So, try not to add more weight than is necessary, this might mean making a smaller or simpler flower with fewer layers and less floofera. Some people, like me, have very fine hair. Fine hair cannot support the weight of heavy flower clips and pins. I’ve tried. My hair also doesn’t have a lot of texture. It is super straight and super smooth. It can’t even hold a plain, unadorned bobby pin without copious amounts of hair spray. So you might consider a headband instead.

Wire Bulk

You really want to reduce wire bulk with accessories. Lots of stem wires results in lots of bulk under the flower, which makes it harder to assemble, heavier, uncomfortable, and creates an unattractive lump that gets in the way of attaching the flowers flush against the accessory… which means the sticks out farther away from the clip or headband, and also your head. To me, that’s not a good look.

To combat this, I use continuous techniques where all the petals are on one length of wire. You end up with just a couple tail wires, so there’s a whole lot less bulk to deal with. Assembly is easier, and the flowers can be assembled flush against the accessory. Here are some continuous techniques you might consider using: Continuous Loops, Continuous Crossover Loops, Continuous Wraparound Loops, Continuous Split Basic, Continuous Basic Frame. Because they are continuous, you could even combine all of these on one wire. I would avoid Fringes, though, since they use thinner wires that will break more easily when being handled as often as accessories are.

My hair clip tutorial will teach you a continuous basic technique that results in just a couple bottom wires, and zero top wires. It’s a technique that I learned from the book “Beadwork” by Donatella Ciotti- an Italian Designer. Whether this is a technique that she developed, or her teacher (Giovanna Poggi Marchesi), or if it’s always been a part of Italian beaded flower techniques, I don’t know. I also don’t know if this technique has a specific name, and my brain needs things to have names to separate them from other similar techniques. The book was originally written in Italian, then translate to English, and unfortunately it’s not a very clean translation. I already struggle to understand other people’s written instructions sometimes. So, that book with few pictures took a lot of mental gymnastics for me to figure out. So, I’m not even 100% sure that what I’m doing in the hair clip PDF is what she’s doing in the book. I just think this is probably what she’s doing. But I think this technique is a gem, so I’m glad I have the book and took the time to understand it. Who knows what else is in this book that I’ve missed! To avoid confusion and distinguish the method from other continuous type basic frame techniques, for now I’m calling this Two-Wire Basic Frame. If anyone knows what Donatella calls this technique, please let me know so I can adjust it. I could not find any mention of a name in the book.

A little extra note here: despite me not being able to understand all her written instructions, her book is interesting because you get a look into how Venetian flowers are made. The way they do loop techniques (CL, CWL, CCL) are different than how it’s done in French Beading. I was able to figure those out from the photos. So, it’s a fun book.


This kind of goes along with previous comments on weight and bulk a little, but there’s more to it that I feel deserves a separate section. I’m talking mostly about how things are assembled and attached to the accessory.

Wire attachments are uncomfortable if any wire sits against your head, so I would recommend covering a wire attachment with something else, like ribbon. The more wire bulk, the more it digs into your scalp, even if it is covered up. Wire also has the potential to tangle in the hair is if it isn’t covered with something else. So, I’m not a huge fan of wire attachments 90% of the time. For some of my headbands, combs, and barrettes, I skipped the wire and attached with ribbon or embroidery thread instead. I’ll teach how I handled those specific accessories at a later date.

Another ding against comfort is the existence of Top Wires on Basic Frame techniques. When making flowers for arrangements, those top wires on a Basic Frame are usually clipped short and folded to the back side of the petal or leaf. But, those little folded top wires will snag on hair, or unbend and stab people in the head. Instead of just folding the top wire back, you can weave the end back down between rows. Or maybe just leave it super long, then fold the full length down the back of the whole petal and wrap at the bottom of the petal. That second option will provide extra support, while also eliminating any stab-y bits. But the Two-Wire Basic Frame method I teach in the PDF results in zero top wires, which is why I think it’s great for accessories.

French Beaded Dendrobium Orchid Pattern

As I mentioned in my last post a couple weeks ago, I’ve been working on finishing my Dendrobium Orchid design to publish in August. I’ve made Dendrobiums for a few different projects now. The first one was a wall hanging I made for a friend. I made the bouquet just like her wedding bouquet, which used dendrobiums in the cascade.

I also made lilies, roses, ivy, and some pretty blue beaded ribbons. This project was one of the hardest assemblies I’ve ever done because the back needed to be flat, but some of the flower stems were fairly bulky and hard to bend. Could have used a couple extra hands.

But, these Dendrobiums were made with 13/0 charlottes. I really like the daintiness, but not everyone can get a hold of charlottes, and the colors are fairly limited. So I wanted to re-design using 11/0 to make color options more accessible for more people.

French Beaded wedding bouquet by Lauren Harpster

I got the chance to re-design them a couple of years ago when I made a tropical wedding bouquet in bright orange, hot pink, and cobalt – a very bold color palette. This bouquet also had sweetheart roses, pincushion protea, Hawaiian ginger, areca palm, lignum vitae, and a huge monstera leaf. Many of these patterns have been published and are available in my shop.

I remember working on this bouquet while my kids were being homeschool due to covid lockdowns, trying to find every possible minute to bead so I could finish it on time. I’d agreed to make it long before the lockdowns happened, otherwise I probably would have turned the order down. After months of struggling through, and right as I was finally finishing and assembling the bouquet, there was a huge flash flood that ripped through my neighborhood. We spent a lot of time draining our own and our neighbor’s yards, and cleaning up debris. Monsoon season in Utah can be rough. We flooded over and over again for weeks. And I almost didn’t make the deadline. The bouquet arrived the day before they left for Jamaica for their wedding. It was a close call that really stressed us both out. But, we made it and the bouquet turned out beautifully!

Dendrobiums are more commonly used as individual flower stems in floral arrangements, but I really wanted to make a full plant as well. That’s why publishing this pattern was held up. Otherwise it wouldn’t feel complete. So I made all those extra pieces… and then I wanted to add another shading pattern so I could have more fun, and I really loved the pretty blue ones. And that’s when I either ran out of steam, or maybe I had to move on to something else. Either way, my dendrobiums have been sitting in a box unfinished for a couple years, waiting for me to feel inspired again.

I’ve been trying to publish a new pattern every month this year. And working through unfinished designs has helped me accomplish this goal. So I decided that August would be my month to finally complete these dendrobiums. I was one day off on the official publication (Sept 1st), but it was only because the pot I had originally picked didn’t work out. So I stressed out and tried to pick a new pot but couldn’t decide. By the time I decided and go it potted, I’d run out of time to photograph it and had to do it the next day. So I’m still counting it for August!

Here are the finished dendrobiums! I did only make one full plant. But it’s 22 inches tall, including the pot. It’s around 17 inches without the pot. And it used over 300 grams of beads.

The PDF is available in my shop! In addition to the yellow plant, the PDF also teaches the shading pattern for the orange orchids that I made for the tropical wedding bouquet above, and a new blue watercolor dendrobium orchid. The blue ones aren’t naturally occurring. They make these by injecting dyes into the stems of white orchids. But I still love them. If florists can use them, then so can I! I might find some time to expand that one into a full plant… eventually, but I’ve already got lots of projects piling up. So maybe I’ll re-evaluate in a couple years.

Okay, that’s all I got for this month!

Happy Beading!

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