Gather up all your beads, it’s sewing time! In this tutorial you will learn how to make a hand-sewn beaded appliqué, perfect for adding to basically anything: sweaters, hats, gloves, jeans, socks, whatever your heart wants!
My chained heart appliqués use a cool technique of chain draping and tacking so that it seems like the heart is breaking through; the delicate chain over the gobs of crystals and pearls and sequins adds just the right touch of texture.
This is an alternative way of beading, yet it is quite easy. You really can’t mess up, because the beads are placed randomly and there is not a necessarily “right” pattern.
I will just be using a beading needle and sewing thread (2 pieces of thread because it’s sturdier). I appliquéd my winter hat, and my sparkly sweater. I used a bright combo of magentas, blues and greys for the white hat to pop, and then a combo of golds, blacks and beiges for my sweater.
This is an early Valentine’s Day theme project; the day is probably my least favorite holiday because I’m not big into the pinks and ruffles and cutesy hearts. I do love crystals and sparkle though. Plus, the chain adds a bit of an edgy vibe. This is my version of Valentine’s day crafts!!
You can use any color combination you want. Just make sure that the colors all look harmonious together! Contrasting colors always add pop: maybe a teals, pinks and silvers. You could go monochromatic with an array of blue tones. Or, be classically chic with a black/white combo!
My sweater appliqué features chain fringe. OBVIOUSLY, whatever you sew this on will have to always be CAREFULLY hand-washed and dried quickly so that the chain won’t tarnish.
ALL of my materials here (the beads) are from Cousin. Their wide variety of awesome beads allows crafters to create anything their heart desires! You can buy Cousin at Michael’s, JoAnn Fabrics, Beverly’s (for California followers) or AC Moore stores.
Alright, let’s get started!
Step 1: Gather materials. I used:
-One sweater or shirt (don’t use a thin tee shirt or anything rayon or stretch fabric, as it’s SOO difficult to keep the fabric from puckering!)
-A beading needle or thin sewing needle
-thin Gold Chain from Cousin
-Seed bead/sequin assortment, all from Cousin
-6mm black crystals and smaller bacons from Cousin
-Black and beige pearls from Cousin
Basically, you can use “bead soup” (a term for all those loose, mismatched beads you’ve collected) here. Just make sure your color palette works together. Here, I’m gonna use a collection of blacks, blush tones, golds and beiges to give a sort of neutral luxe feel. Other schemes that would work would be pinks, silvers and taupe for a girly feel, reds, blues, amethyst and emerald for a jewel-tone look, or even a mix of reds, blacks and gunmetal could give a “dark romance” type feel!
You will need seed beads for this project. This will be useful to fill in the little spots within your sewn heart!
Step 1: Cut out a heart template from paper. Make sure it is the right size; place where you want it on your shirt and cut smaller if you need to. I am placing it on the lefthand side of my shirt. Get a washable marker ready. (I used a brown sweater with a light brown marker. Make sure you use a LIGHT colored marker just in case, so it doesn’t show through. Like, don’t use a white sweater and black marker, use yellow or something!!!)
Step 2: TURN THE SHIRT INSIDE OUT. IMPORTANT. Trace your heart right where you want it to be. Turn the shirt the right way now. Your heart stencil will be on the inside of your shirt, and you will be using this as a template when you sew.
Begin sewing the larger beads and crystals on with your sewing thread (I used two strands for strength) and needle. Make sure as you sew, you start in one area (say the middle) and work your way outwards. DO NOT sew on the left, then bring the needle all the way to the right and start sewing over there. Work your way from one side to the other. If you sort of “zig-zag” sew, you will have long pieces of thread on the backside which can get tangled, etc. Trust me.
Continue to sew, filling in the empty spaces. Follow the heart template we have drawn on the inside of your shirt to make sure you stay inside the lines.
I finally have all the space filled up with my large crystals, pearls, smaller crystals and sequins, but there are small still empty spaces; this is where the seed beads come in.
Step 3: Simply thread on 4 seed beads or so, and then bring the needle down about 2mm from where it came up at; it will create somewhat of a seed bead arch which gives dimension and can fill in space. Continue this all around, filling up all the spaces. Correct the outline of the heart and make sure it fills in your template perfectly! Here is mine.
Step 4: To make the “chained” element, simply take the entire length of Cousin chain. Sew upward through the shirt, at the top of the heart, and thread through the last link of chain. Bring the needle back down and through the shirt, pulling firm, so that the chain is stitched in. Now, simply lay the chain a in random pattern all around the heart, tacking the chain down by bringing up and through the link, then back down to adhere to the shirt. Make sure the chain isn’t too tight, just gently lay it down and sew through.
Continue until your heart is all chained up!
Oh so luxe….
My sweater with fringe. For the fringe, I just cut 3″ pieces of chain and tacked them down evenly around the heart!
Sequins add dimension and sparkle 🙂
A truly unique winter accessory! Trust me, everyone will be like, “Where did you get that?!!!”
All images & tutorial copyright Allison Beth Cooling; do not use/post without linking back to me.