How to Decorate a Shirt With Glass Beads

Written by chelsea fitzgerald
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How to Decorate a Shirt With Glass Beads
Glass beads come in many different shapes and sizes. (multicoloured beads, background from beads image by 26kot from

Glass beads come in clear, transparent colours or opaque colours. They are useful for decorating clothing items, such as shirts and jeans, or accessories, such as a tote bag. Decorating a shirt with glass beads helps transform a plain shirt into a work of art. It is not difficult to add glass beads to your clothing item and it takes only a few inexpensive supplies. You do not have to be a talented seamstress to accomplish this craft project.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • White tissue paper
  • Coloured pencils or markers
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread to match the shirt fabric
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Glass beads

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  1. 1

    Draw your design on white tissue paper. Use the coloured pencils to indicate where a new colour of bead starts in the design.

  2. 2

    Tack the tissue paper onto the shirt where you want the beaded design. Use long, loose, temporary stitches with the needle and thread. The stitches hold it in place while you are sewing on the beads.

  3. 3

    Place the tissue paper and shirt design area into an embroidery hoop, so that the fabric is stretched tight across the hoop. This makes it less difficult to work with the beads, needle and thread.

  4. 4

    Thread your needle with the coordinating thread that matches your shirt fabric. You will need a 2-foot length of thread.

  5. 5

    Pull the thread through the needle until the two ends of thread match up. Tie the two thread ends together with a simple knot.

  6. 6

    Insert the needle up through the back of the shirt fabric. This keeps the knot on the back of the fabric.

  7. 7

    Place a glass bead on the needle and slide it down to the fabric.

  8. 8

    Hold the bead in place with the thumb of your nondominant hand.

  9. 9

    Place the needle back into the front of the fabric, next to the end of the bead. Push it through to the back of the fabric.

  10. 10

    Pull the needle and thread all the way through the fabric and then insert it into the back of the fabric very near the end of the bead you just put on the fabric. Continue this method, attaching each bead one at a time.

  11. 11

    Switch to a different colour of glass bead when the coloured marks on the tissue paper indicate a colour change. Continue the beading until your design is complete. You may need to thread your needle again several times to complete the entire project.

Tips and warnings

  • You can just trace around a design with the glass beads or you can fill in the design, depending on the look you want.
  • Using clear glass beads by themselves will add a sparkly embellishment to your shirt. You can use all one colour of beads for a design or create intricate colourful details.
  • Pour some of the glass beads out onto a towel to make them easier to grasp. This prevents them from rolling off the work surface.
  • Take care not to tear the tissue paper when placing it in the embroidery hoop.
  • Turn your shirt inside out when washing it. Most glass beads wash quite well, but turning the shirt inside out prevents the beads and thread from snagging on zippers or buttons of other clothing items. Follow the directions on your glass beads to dry the shirt.

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