Make This:

Crystal Decorated Shirt Collar

Swarovski makes some of the most beautiful jewelry in the world.  For those of us who love to make our own jewelry we are fortunate that Swarovski Crystal Elements are available as individual pieces for us to pick and choose the best shape, size, and color crystal for a project we are working on.  They even have a Create Your Style with Swarovski Elements Color Carousel app for helping you pick the best colors for your project! Check it out here on Facebook and iTunes.  Swarovski sent us 2 beautiful jewelry kits –  one to use on a project and one for a giveaway.  This first project made a decorated shirt collar from one of the kits and another project will be posted soon.

Decorated shirt color with Swarovski crystal

One of the kits we received was designed to make a collar-like necklace with a bunch of rectangle stones. It had a total of 88 beautiful rectangle stones in 4 colors.  As much as I would have loved the necklace the kit made I wanted to go a different direction.  I’m a huge fan of shirts with decorative collars (sequins, beads, metal studs, etc.) but none of those would sparkle like a color decorated with Swarovski Crystal.  So I went to work…

 

Supplies
A shirt with a collar or a separate collar/necklace
Crystals with sew-through holes
Chain (I used the chain included in the necklace kit)
Jump Rings
Claw Clasp
Thread (I used silk thread and recommend using a similarly strong thread)
Tools:
Hand Sewing Needles
Needle Nose Pliers
Sewing Pins

This is the kit I used to decorate this shirt and Technoplastique made a bracelet with some of the unused pieces.

I began by sorting the crystals that came in the kit and found out exactly how many and which colors I had to work with.

I used the Swarovski Color Wheel to determine that the best colors to use on the creamy off-white shirt were in the rosy light pink range which this kit just happened to have!  The other 2 colors from the kit I used on this project were a clear crystal and on opaque white that looked like opal.  I set aside the blue crystals to use on another project.

 

Once you figure out the pieces you will use on the project it is time to decide the pattern in which they will be attached.

To keep the array of colors and layout the same on both collars, it is a good idea to lay out all the pieces before you begin sewing.

In order to get both collars to be mirrors of each other, I added the crystals to both collars at the same time. The shirt I attached these too is a light weight crepe chiffon so I picked 2 of the thinest needles in the variety set I own.  This type of project is a good place to use high quality thread.  I used 100% Silk thread because it is strong, easy to work with, and has a beautiful sheen which is great because it might show a little bit on this project.  If you don’t want to invest in higher quality thread, at least make sure the thread matches the color of the shirt you are sewing your crystals to.

The trick to making the collar look great on the top and the underside is to have all of the passing stitches happen between the 2 fabric layers of the collar.  Some fabrics will cling together so it might be tricky and you can decide if it is worth the effort.  For light weight fabrics like the what my shirt was made of it was pretty easy overall.

 

Thread your needles and tie the ends with an overhand knot.  Take a small stitch just through the underside layer of the collar to secure the knot before you begin to sew the crystals in place.

Once you determine where you want your first crystal to be, send the needle/thread to the top side of the collar oriented so that the crystal will sit where you want it to sit.

Send the needle through the hole of the crystal facet. Send the needle through both layers of the collar fabric next to where the thread comes to the top.  For crystals or beads with holes oriented this way the your stitch positioning effects how the crystals will sit when complete.  If you pull the thread tight and don’t like the angle the crystal is sitting don’t hesitate to pull the thread/needle back through the fabric and try again.

To fully secure the crystal in place you need to sew through the other channel in the facet.  To get your thread end from one side of the crystal to the other end of the crystal carefully send the needle between the layers of fabric.

Bring the thread through both layers of fabric to the top of the collar, sew through the crystal facet, and return the needle/thread to the underside of the collar.

Now move on to the next crystal you want to attach.  Send the needle between the layers to move to the next location. Repeat the steps of the first crystal:  Bring the needle to the top of the collar, through the crystal facet, and then to the underside of the collar.  Send the needle between the fabric layers of the collar to the other side of the crystal.  Bring the needle to the top side, through the crystal facet, and then to the underside of the collar.

Continue to work this way along your collar.

Here is the underside of the collar as I move back to the collar point to work in the other direction.

These steps are repeated until all crystals are sewn in place.  Often I would un-do to reposition stones if I was unhappy with how they were sitting.  Working on both collars at the same time meant that I could compare and make adjustments very quickly and easily if things didn’t look symmetrical.

If you have a dress form, at this point it can be very helpful to place the shirt on the form for the finishing steps.  If you don’t have a dress form (or a super patient friend to wear it while you work) placing a pillow in the shirt to imitate the curve of the neck and shoulders would help.

Tie your thread with an overhand knot that tightens up agains the fabric.  Using a straight pin or awl can help keep that loop open until you can get the knot to tighten close to the fabric. Cut your thread leaving a little tail past the knot.

I was working with a jewelry kit from Swarovski and it included 2 different styles and lengths of chain as well as some jump rings and a claw clasp.  I used these as a chain detail between the 2 collar points.

Using one jump ring, join the ends of both chains and the claw clasp together.

Using a second jump ring, join the other ends of the chain together.  Pay very close attention to the chains – you don’t want the chains twisted.

Place sewing pins through the jump rings/clasp at either side of the chains and position the chain on the shirt in an appealing way.  There is no math equation for this – just make it look lovely.

I decided that the jump rings should sit between the 3rd and 4th crystal.  Using a bit of thread I sewed the jump ring to the underside of the collar – being careful to not let any of my stitches show on the front.

The side with the clasp needles to be oriented so that the jump ring at the end of the chain is matched to the other collar point.  I used a second pin to mark where a different jump ring needed to be attached on the back for the clasp to attach to.

Here is how the chain looks.

The clasp attached to the jump rings sewn to the underside of the collar.

Here is the final collar with a beautiful set of Swarovski Crystal Elements.

Decorated shirt color with Swarovski crystal

Decorated shirt color with Swarovski crystal

Play around with the Create Your Style Color Carousel app (on Facebook and iTunes) and see what you can design.  You might need it when you win your own kit of Swarovski Elements – Click here to enter our giveaway!