This seashell beaded headband is one of those magical accessories that is so full of drama and sparkle that you can’t help but be the center of attention. I fell in love with the mother of pearl spikes that form the centerpiece for this headband and built the rest around it. The project takes a bit of work, but it’s so reassuring to know that there’s a headband fit for a mermaid waiting in your closet to turn even the dullest day into something extraordinary.
– muslin (plain white or a color)
– fusible interfacing
– sharp scissors
– sewing thread
– beading thread
– sewing needle
– beading needle
– plastic headband – this one is about 2 inches wide and relatively sturdy, a bigger headband is a larger canvas
– masking tape (low tack painting tape is best)
– E6000 or similar flexible clear glue
– acrylic paint and brush (this seafoam shade was accomplished with cobalt green)
– size 11 seed beads
– size 8 seed beads
– an assortment of shell, pearl, stone and mother of pearl beads
– mother of pearl spike beads
There’s no way to give a specific list of beads for this project – it’s totally dependent on what you can find when you’re shopping. It took me a while to accumulate what I used but it all came from ‘big box’ type craft stores so you’ll probably be able to track down a similar assortment. And if you can’t find it locally try the internet.
I rarely post projects that are completely dependent on glue and this is no exception. The headband is flexible and the beads are not. If you were to do this with just glue you would be very likely to have a problem with beads popping off. The combo of sewing and gluing makes it into a very permanent, stable accessory.
Start by making a pattern for your headband. Mine has a handy seam line at the center as most I’ve seen do. If yours doesn’t use a tape measure to find the center.
Tape a piece of paper at the center point and fold it around the headband as shown.
Flatten it out.
Cut it to size.
Cut two pieces of fusible interfacing using the pattern.
Cut a piece of fabric well larger than your fusible interfacing pieces. Lots of extra fabric makes this much easier. You’ll want more than the width of your headband for folding over and finishing the back later. My headband is 2 inches at it’s widest so I allowed 3 extra inches of fabric everywhere.
If you’re painting your fabric now is the time to do it. I used the watercolor fabric painting tutorial we posted previously.
Fuse one piece of interfacing to the fabric following package directions. Fuse the second piece on top of the first. This double layer of interfacing will give your heavy beadwork better stability.
Fold the edges of the fabric back over the interfacing and press. This will make it easier to be aware of your edges as you add beads.
Fold the interfaced area in half both directions. Lightly mark the center with pencil. Don’t mark all the way to the edges of you’ll have to add beads over the entire area. I marked about an inch the short way and about 5 inches the long way.
String your beading needle with 2 doubled strands of thread (4 strands in all.) Most of the beads should have holes large enough for this number of strands and it will help keep everything solidly in place.
Start with one of your spikes at the center of the headband on one side of the long line. Stitch through once.
Then stitch through again, but slightly offset. This is sort of like giving a table 4 legs instead of 2. Make sure the spike is upright as you tighten the threads down. (It will probably fall over later, but keep it upright now so that there’s definitely enough thread that it can be upright.)
Add another spike on the other side of the line and offset halfway from the first (like a brick pattern.) Stitch through it twice as before.
Continue adding spikes this way – two rows of spikes on either side of the center line, 2 stitches per spike.
They are going to fall over. Oh, how they will fall over. It’s okay, just make sure that each one can stand upright.
Put the headband on your head and measure how far out you want the row of spikes to continue. My spike row is 6 inches long but it’s about how you want the headband to look when you’re wearing it.
Lay the fabric on a flat surface. Do your best to stand your spikes upright. (Later on I started masking taping them together which makes it much easier. Do that whenever you want.) Start arranging other beads around the base of the spikes. Experiment with different configurations. When you find one you love take a picture so you can refer to it later. The piece will probably evolve from your original picture, but at least you’ll have a starting point.
Start at one end of the spike row stitching in other beads. For this row try to use all of the largest beads you plan to include. Use as many stitches per bead as you need to to keep things where you want them.
Continue working along the base of the spikes adding beads. These beads will help keep the spikes upright, so taping them together helps to keep all the parts where they need to be.
Loop all the way around with the big beads.
Stitch another row of beads outside the first (you’re kind of spiraling out from the spike row.) Use smaller beads this time, and try to fill in as many gaps as you can. I found that really filling in every nook and cranny with beads was the best look for my project.
Keep going around and around until you run out of space to bead on the interfacing or until you like the look.
Do one more row, this time right along the spikes. Wedge in as many little beads as you can to help support the spikes. Untape them as you go along to make sure they’re really staying upright.
I also added some rows of just seed beads at the ends to give the beaded area a finished effect as it blended into the plain fabric.
Make sure all your threads are tied off and trimmed, then glue the fabric to the headband using E6000. Spread it across all of the interfacing and try to work it into the stitches to give them a little extra support. Also spread a thin layer of glue onto the outside of the headband. Let them both dry until they’re tacky, but not dripping wet with glue.
Carefully press the fabric onto the headband, making sure it sticks how you want it to stick. Because both sides are dry you have some repositioning ability. This glue is meant to make it easier to work with the headband and create some friction, but it’s not what keeps the beadwork in place.
Thread the sewing needle with a doubled piece of sewing thread. Make it as long as you’re comfortable working with.
Stitch through the fabric at the center of the headband as shown, a little from the edge.
Stitch back in. Also slide the needle between the threads just above the overhand knot behind the fabric at the end of the thread to help lock it all in place.
Flip the headband over. Stitch through the fabric at the center a little from the edge as on the other side.
Stitch back in, making sure you’re heading toward the same end of the headbands you were with the first stitch.
Continue stitching back and forth like this toward one end of the headband.
You’ll have a ladder of long threads across the back of the headband under the fabric.
When you get to the end to a few running stitches around the curve.
Pull the stitches up so the end of the fabric wraps around the end of the headband as shown. Tie off your threads and repeat this stitching starting at the center and working to the other end of the headband.
Use some water to make the fabric on one side of the headband damp. Shape it the way you want it to fall when finished and leave it to dry.
Trim the fabric at the end of the headband, leaving about 1/2 inch.
Glue the fabric down to create a tidy finish as shown.
Run a bead of glue across the back of the headband (over the threads holding the fabric in place) just inside the fabric at the bottom as shown in this picture. Glue the fabric that you shaped into place. Let dry completely.
Trim the extra fabric from this side, being extremely careful not to cut the other fabric.
Again, make your fabric damp and shape it.
Trim the fabric so that you have about 1/2 of extra past the edge of the headband.
Fold the fabric so that it fits just inside the edge of the headband. It will help to do this with wet fingers – the fabric folds better and dries in the shape you leave it in.
Apply glue for about an inch in the center near the edge as shown.
Press the fabric into place, let it set for a few seconds.
Continue working out from the center gluing a bit at a time.
Be sure to fold the end so that no raw edges of fabric are exposed.
Repeat on the other side, let the glue dry completely before putting the headband on (I know!)