There aren’t many things out there that can’t be improved with a little bit of embellishment. Over the years Alyssa and I have experimented with adding sparkling details to just about everything, from socks and tights to jackets, and in this department we truly believe more is more.
Though we may have had a lot of experience messing around with glue and thread, our glittery finished product didn’t always have the lasting result we had hoped for. In an effort to hone our skills and master the art of embellishment, we turned to local designer Breeyn McCarney.
Specializing in all things delicate and detailed, bespoke bridal and womenswear designer Breeyn showed us the proper way to add some flare to your wardrobe, and we’re pretty sure after a lesson this thorough we’ll be spending the entire winter cozied up with embroidery hoops and iridescent beads!
2 small clamps (ours were originally orange but we spray painted them)
Jeans to embellish
1 // Draw a loose pattern onto your jeans with pencil. We opted for a series of intertwining swirls.
2 // Once you’re ready to start adding your gems, insert the embroidery frame. The solid half goes inside, and the adjustable side goes on top. You want the area you’re going to bead on to be as taut as possible.
3 // Clamp it to your table in such a way that your hands can easily access inside. Once clamped, you will have both hands free to manipulate your gems and your thread and needle.
4 // Start by laying out the first section of your gems overtop of the pattern we drew on so you have an idea where you want them to be placed. Don’t bother doing the whole thing, as they will move once you start threading, but this will help you to visualize what they’ll look like once they’re on.
5 // In order to thread the needle, use a length of thread just about the length of your arm. Shorter than this will annoy you because you’ll have to re-thread more often, and longer than this will often result in tangles.
Pass one end of the thread through the eye of the needle, and then pulling the two ends even, tie a simple knot. Trim the ends to about 1/4 inch.
6 // Now you are ready to start attaching the gems to the jeans. We used grey thread for this project, as it showed up least against the jeans and the gems. It is important to anchor your thread for beading projects, so that they won’t pull out.
Starting from the top side of the jeans, pass the needle through to underneath, but don’t pull the thread all the way through. Bring the needle back up about a millimetre away, but before pulling it taut, pass the needle through the loop of the knot. Now your thread is solidly anchored, and it won’t slip through and let your gems fall off.
7 // Then we started adding the gems! (Note: This method also applies if you want to glue your gems instead of sewing them on).
When you reach the end of your thread, you are ready to knot it in place. This will require another anchor. You will want to be sure that you leave yourself enough space to create your knot and anchor – depending on your needle length, you will want to leave at least 15cm.
Once you are ready, make a tiny stitch through the jeans, going across the fabric instead of putting the needle straight down through the fabric.
Do this one more time, and then tie a basic double knot (as pictured). Using your nail, hold the knot against the fabric so it stays flush, and pull tight. For extra security, you can repeat this step.
That’s mostly it – once we have everything prepped and in place, putting everything on just takes a bit of time (I ended up spending most of a Saturday finishing my jeans), but there isn’t much more to it.
Recommended Toronto Sources:
- New Collection, 390 Queen Street West – gems, sequins, beads, pearls, gem glue.
- Neverin’s Sewing Supply, 451 Queen Street West – thread, needles, interfacing, embroidery hoops (they have a ton of different sizes)
- Black Market, 256 Queen Street West - great vintage denim and other finds all for $10 and under
- Canadian Tire - clamps (and spray paint, if you opt to paint them like we did!)