Thursday, August 1, 2013

Off the Cuff - WHAT?!?!?

OK - I have to admit, I'm a woman who likes jewelry.  Rings, necklaces, bracelets - love to wear it all.  I got hooked on cuff bracelets years ago.  I like how they look and feel when I wear them.

As usual, I was intrigued to find out the history of cuff bracelets.  Because my mind works in strange ways, it dawned on me, there must be a story behind the phrase "off the cuff".  After a bit of searching, I discovered that, back in the days before credit cards, most people weren't allowed credit.  If they did borrow, the debt was written on the cuff of the lender.  When a man would travel from town to town, the livery stable owner would let them put what they owed on credit and would write it on their cuff.  If the traveller owed money to different stables in different towns, he was said to live "off the cuff."

Back to bracelets. People have worn cuff bracelets for thousands of years.  The ancient Egyptians were known for their elaborate and intricate jewelry designs.  In Mayan culture, cuff bracelets were a measure of social class and status and date back to circa 1000 to 1500.  The Greeks wore bracelets on their upper arms, as well as their wrists; Greek and Roman soldiers wore wide leather and metal cuffs around their wrists for protection during battle.  The ancient Celts, Asian cultures and Native Americans also wore cuff bracelets.

Coco Chanel made cuff bracelets chic and a fashion staple in the 1930s.  They can be worn with jeans or a little black dress. Today, there are so many glorious designs, it's hard to choose.

I got brave.....and stitched my own.  Here is a needlepoint cuff done in wool and metallic threads:

And here is a cuff I just finished.  It's a kit from Orna Willis, called "Nightshade".  It was fun, fast and challenging!  I had quite the time figuring out how to do the beading on the edges, but once my brain clicked in, it was a snap.  Can hardly wait to stitch up the next one.

I'm currently working on doing the finishing on a needlepoint bracelet of a gold snaffle bit.  I'm making it up as I go, will post a picture when I have it done.

Happy stitching - Cheers!


  1. Wow! Kim, those cuffs are amazing. You are so talented.

  2. Wow! That is just sooooo cool! Love them!

  3. Your bracelets are gorgeous. I too love to find out the origin of sayings and old wives tales , but that's a new one on me . Thanks for sharing .
    Do you stitch yours on plastic canvas ? Just wondering how you get them to keep their shape .X

    1. Thank you, Cath. The bracelet is stitched on regular 18 count canvas and the shape is held by sewing in 18 gauge copper wire. Orna's directions are so easy to follow, it made the finishing a snap.

  4. Wow so pretty ..I love them all x

  5. Really, really neat Kim. They are pretty.

  6. Beautiful cuff bracelets Kim! I studied jewelry for a while. I love it too : )

  7. Nightshade is so pretty. Now I'm excited to stitch the one I got :)