What is soutache?
Soutache /suˈtæʃ/ is a narrow flat woven braid, which is braided in a herringbone pattern and used for decorative purposes.
The origin of this word is French, from Hungarian sujtás (pendant) and it’s first known use dates back to 1848.
Soutache jewelry is created out of soutache braids, which are often combined with intertwined beads. The soutache threads come in many beautiful colours and multitude of their combinations. They can be bend and shaped in numerous ways to create extraordinary and unique jewelry with lots of stunning swirls and loops. Elegant, casual, colourful or simply ascetic; soutache jewelry comes in all flavours. The only limit being your imagination.
Soutache technique is all about hand-sewing(!). In original, high-quality soutache there is no place for gluing braids together! The soutache braids are connected and fixed in layers using a very thin, often transparent, nylon thread (and by “very thin” I mean the diameter of 0.1 – 0.12 mm). All beads are carefully locked between soutache braids to make a breathtaking design. The wonderful aspect of this kind of jewelry is, apart from its uniqueness, the fact that it is really light-weight.
However, the technique itself is very labourious and difficult; it demands lots of precision, patience and hours of work. That is why the soutache jewelry is indeed luxurious, fashionable, and one-of-a-kind.
Two sides to the story – about the back side of the soutache jewelry
When buying soutache jewelry you should pay attention not only to the front, but also to its back side. If you don’t know the particular Artist, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for extra pictures of the jewelry backing (if not provided in the advertisement).
Soutache jewelry’s backside is often finished using felt, leather or suede. A piece fo fabric in the shape of the whole jewelry piece (e.g. earring) is cut out and attached to its backside. The aim of this action is to hide all stitching and soutache braid ends. I believe it works very well for necklaces and pendants, where the extra backing gives additional stiffness to the project. However, I am definitely not in favour of this kind of finishing when it comes to earrings.
Soutache earrings which I make are two-sided (unless clearly stated otherwise). This means that I invest time and pay a lot of attention to a neat finish of each project. Instead of adding extra weight to the stylish and (very often) long soutache earrings by backing them with fabric, I finish the earrings using mostly only small beads. This way I hide the ends of soutache braids, keeping the earrings opened and two-sided at the same time. And you can enjoy truly light-weight exceptional jewelry!
In the photo you may appreciate both back and front side of two earrings.
How to take care of your soutache jewelry?
Any jewelry requires proper treatment if ment to last a long time. The truly royal soutache jewelry is no exception and requires royal treatment 🙂 .
Despite the fact that I impregnate every piece of jewelry which I make, in order to enjoy this beautiful handmade jewelry really long, you should keep in mind the following advices:
- do not store your jewelry in direct sunlight (as it may bleach the colour)
- prevent the jewelry from wetting (take it off before taking a bath or shower, or before swimming)
- if accidentally wetted, dry the jewelry flat
- take it off before going to sleep
- apply all cosmetics (creams, hair-sprays, perfume) and make-up BEFORE (!) putting the soutache jewelry on; beware that stains from tanning products or coffee are basically imposible to remove (!)
- store each piece of jewelry in a reclosable zipper/seal bag (prevents from dust and moist), lying flat (prevents from deformation)
- make sure that the jewelry is completely dry before putting it back into a plastic bag for storage
However, if (despite the above precautions) your precious soutache jewelry got some stains, here’s what you can do as the “first aid”:
- Soutache jewelry is rather delicate, so if you pulled a thread you should:
- cut the pulled thread very close to the soutache braid stem (will only work if a single thread is pulled; not in case of a bigger disaster)
- use small sharp scissors to assure the best results
- In case of small stains:
- use a damp cloth or cotton swab soaked in warm water with mild dishwashing detergent
- In case of bigger stains:
- use a small amount of bleach (without chlorine!), e.g. vanish
- rinse with cold water
- Important! When cleaning soutache braids, always rub the cotton swab in one direction, which will prevent its pilling.