These mini tetra charms are super quick and fun to sew (they are also pretty addictive). All you need is a tiny scrap and a little stuffing and you are minutes away from a completed charm. I have no real plans/reason for these yet but I love making them. There is something so satisfying about the shape and size and variety of colors together. They are lucky charms or bookmarks (on a longer string) or garlands or jewelry.
I came across a tutorial years ago on the mairuru blog (she has lots of great diys) but got around to trying them just lately.
I made charms in two sizes – very mini – using a rectangle 2 ½ by 1 ¼ inches and a larger size using a rectangle 2 by 4 inches.
Cut your rectangles and follow the diy here.
You can also make an even larger version for a pincushion or pattern weight. Start with a rectangle twice as long as wide.
The name, tetra, comes from their shape – tetrahedron- a triangular pyramid. The construction is magical and simple. You can also make little paper packages with pretty much the same technique. Check out this vintage tetra milk carton. So cool, but it apparently did not stand the test of time…
I also made the packages in 2 sizes. The smaller size is made using a 4 ½ by 6 inch rectangle and the larger with a 6 by 8 rectangle. If you’re using heavier paper like card stock the larger size is best. For the little one I used kraft paper. a shopping bag is ideal.
*this post contains an affiliate link, meaning if you purchase through the link I get a small commission.
Roll the paper into a tube, overlapping the edges and tape or (glue stick) them. I used washi tape. Double sided tape is also great for the join.
Fold the edge over twice. You can glue or staple or even sew the edge. It also does not need to be folded – you could trim the edge instead. Put treats or surprises (or little tetra charms inside).
Close the other end with the taped join on the side instead of the middle, fold and staple.
And we gotta talk about the stapler. Who new staples could be so charming? It was a Christmas gift and everything about it is appealing, the box it comes in, the midcentury design and the tiny staples. You can find it here * this is an affiliate link meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.
I love the simple little packages! You can find more variations of them and other simple and sweet packaging ideas on my pinterest packaging board.
The website for the tetras is labeled “not secure” in my browser, which means there are problems with the website.
Could you post a diy on your secure site, please?
No, it does not mean there are problems. It means the website does not have an ssl certificate – reading/viewing the page is completely safe.
Ooh. I love this shape. I’ve made small coin purses using a zipper and mix and matching the pulls. It fits perfectly in your hand. Added a ring for keys to some.
I’ve seen those – super cute.
This is now all I want to do today. Why do I suddenly need a giant bowl filled with tetras? I love the Loop and Tetra closure on Mairuru’s bracelet.
The stapler has a ton of personality! It looks like a little dinosaur.
It does look like a dinosaur. And yes- that’s the problem. I only want to sew tetras and staple things.
<3. Love it!
Ooo yes I made a set of these last year, a little bigger than those, stuffed with rice. I use them as sewing weights when cutting out. X
They make perfect pattern weights! And so cute.
I love the tetras! Short and chonky is kinda my jam, because, well, I am. And the only problem with the stapler is trying to decide which one. I might have to close my eyes and just let my stylus chose. But the most important part of the tetra post is your scrap collection. I’ve swooned over your scraps many times – for many years – but today I’m drooling, too. Drooling and swooning, drooning? Or swooling? This is even almost as unattractive as it sounds, so I beg you to take pity on me and just send me the whole lot. Please.
And I am delighting – with the lilac right there in the workspace!!!
When I was a kid, we could buy little tetras filled with condensed milk for a few pennies. Sweet memories of what that little shape held. ☺️
Yes tiny staples make me swoon! I have a growing vintage stapler collection. It might be reaching problematic proportions. Going to try some tetras today, perfect project to use up all the tiny scraps we made working on 100 Day Books.
I’m with Susan , sweet and pretty bowl fillers! Change colors with the seasons? Thanks for sharing, I have scraps I can’t bear to part with. Great way to enjoy them!
YES! The stapler. I got mine at a local little shop that has unique items. Love the little staples. Always looking for an excuse to use it.
I have that stapler in white! I love it and I always want to draw eyes on it with a sharpie.
And yes, I long to leave work right now to go home and make tetras.
I know these wee bags from embroidering them as Christmas decorations, scissor fobs and for pattern weights. We refer to the shape as a ‘humbug’ after the boiled sweets where the length of toffee is cut and rolled a half turn before cutting again. Humbugs of any kind are addictive.
Always learn something clever in your newsletter. Thanks
I love these tetras, I remember when I was a child (1960s) we had orange drink in tetras and we froze them, then cut a small corner and sucked the icy juice for ages on hot summer days! They were called Jubblies. Some fabric reminders would be great. Thanks again for an inspiring post.
I remember Jubblies too, often the tasty orange bits would end up in one corner – would that be the corner that was snipped off? Oooh the anticipation!!!
Anything in miniature makes me swoon!
Lovely little shapes. I have a staple plier similar but a little more modern but it still does cute staples. I colour mine with alcohol ink pens before using too. Hmm lilac indoors, not something we do here as bad fairies might find you and do horrid things!
When I read the title of the article, I thought you were making little tropical fish!
I’ve made these shapes in beads, they make a nice ornament in different sizes.
These are adorable!!! Thank you!!
I made a lined change purse years ago using this tetra shape. It got fiddly with the zipper, but it was fun, and I still use it!!!
Enjoy your weekend!
There are free patterns all over the internet for different sizes of zipper bags with this shape—they were very popular a few years ago. Most are called triangle bag or pyramid bag, but the original pattern was called the humbug bag. In England they have a pyramid shaped hard candy called humbugs and it was named after those. I made a few small ones—so much fun! I think I’ll make some more!
I’m going to make some today for a kitten to play with! A little bell on them will drive her crazy. She loves to play fetch and will bring things back to us for us to throw and her to chase until we tire if it. She never does!
As children, we had these small tetras filled with rice or sand and played the game called “jacks”. (maybe called knucklebones etc.)
Nous avons, ici en France, une spécialité de bonbons de cette forme : le BERLINGOT. La pâte de sucre devient un grand ruban qu’on tire et qu’on étire en une bande rectangulaire que l’on coupe aux ciseaux. Les diverses couleurs de sucre ajoutées deviennent des rayures très esthétiques ! Mais pour le bonbon, il n’y a qu’une seule taille : plus gros, on ne pourrait plus le garder en bouche au risque de l’avaler et de s’étouffer avec !