Crocheting little shapes is a great way to make your own custom accessories – brooches and pins, hair decorations, and even jewellery. The best embellishments are tiny pieces (so you can use multiple pieces without looking over the top) – such as my Posy Blossoms, Love Hearts, or Basic Rose (especially in a finer yarn so it comes out smaller and daintier).
These patterns all make beautiful crocheted embellishments
A little prep work is invaluable for attaching embellishments securely, especially if you need to attach them to something hard, like a hair barrette, brooch/pin back, etc, or make an appliqué or brooch from several crocheted pieces. There’s no one ‘right’ answer for how to tackle this, but I’ll cover some options and general tips in this tutorial.
And, because it’s easier to learn by example, I’ll also give you a couple of walk-throughs so you can see exactly how I made these pretty hair accessories – a forget-me-not hair clip and a posy barrette:
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A couple of definitions for the purpose of this tutorial:
There are two main ways to attach appliqués: sewing or glueing. Attaching embellishments with adhesive is simple and fast, but sewing gives a more secure finish. I always sew my embellishments, but the choice is yours! Here are a few pointers for each:
Note: Most glues aren’t designed to glue a porous object (yarn, felt, etc) to a non-porous object (plastic, metal, etc) so I always recommend you stitch appliqués to hair clips, hairbands, pin backs, etc, to make sure they stay securely fastened and that you don’t get any unfortunate surprises (like the glue seeping through to the front and leaving a visible mess…)
For any adhesive, read the packaging for usage and drying times, and make sure it has fully dried before you use or wear your embellished item!
Note: You’ll want to use a sharp needle to make it easy to stitch through felt or multiple layers of yarn with sewing thread or embroidery floss. Choose a small diameter needle with an eye size that will accommodate your thread.
Attaching your crocheted embellishments to a soft surface is very easy: if you’re appliquéing onto fabric or another crocheted surface, such as embellishing clothing, bags, or amigurumi, you can stitch or glue your pieces down directly.
The blobs of paint and toadstool spots are stitched-down round appliqués.
By ‘hard surfaces’, I mean metal or plastic, which you’ll encounter when you want to attach an appliqué to hair accessories, pin backs, etc. As I said in the Adhesives discussion, above, I do recommend stitching these pieces together rather than glueing them, to make a more secure long-lasting join.
To stitch an appliqué onto the hardware, turn the appliqué face down, and place the hardware down on top. Make a series of parallel stitches, with each stitch passing over the hardware, down into the appliqué, and up again on the other side of the hardware. (See the examples below for clarification.) To make the most secure join, stitch along the whole length where the two pieces touch.
If you’re making an appliqué from more than one component and stitching it to a hard surface, it’s best to attach the pieces together first, so they’ll stay in the desired arrangement. To do this, you’ll need a backing fabric, which you can make from felt, or by crocheting a backing piece. Felt is easy to cut into any shape and doesn’t add much bulk to the piece; a crocheted backing will be more sturdy and longer-lasting, but thicker and more noticeable.
The backs of the above hair clips – as you can see, the cluster takes a little more work to create, but that’s all invisible from the front!
I’m going to show you two examples below – I suggest you read through both, as I give different tips in each! Between the two, they should give you a clear idea of how to make and use clustered embellishments.
This method gives the best possible finish, even on the reverse side. If you want to sell embellished hair accessories, this is the kind of professional-looking finish you’ll be aiming for. (For beginners, or crafters in a hurry, see Example 2, below, for the simpler method.)
I’ll walk you through how I made the forget-me-not hair clip pictured above, to give you a general idea of how to create a multiple-piece appliqué. I’ll also give some alternate options (ALT) in italics throughout my instructions.
If your components are layered on top of each other, start with the components at the back (the leaves in my example above). Remove all but one of the components from the backing (you may wish to sketch the general arrangement first, so you don’t forget it) and use a needle and sewing thread to make a couple of stitches through the crochet and into the backing fabric (ALT: use fabric glue to stick the piece to the backing). If you keep the stitches very tiny on the front, they won’t show in the finished piece, or you can just stitch through the back of the crochet if you can’t make your stitches small enough.
Add another component and stitch (ALT: glue) it down in the same way. Continue until all the pieces have been attached.
To secure the felt pieces together and make them longer-lasting, I blanket-stitched them together all around the edge with a matching shade of embroidery floss. (ALT: just glue them together, all the way to the edges.)
In case that all looks like far too much work, here’s the faster method, without the 2nd layer of felt and the blanket stitching. This gives a slightly messier reverse side – you wouldn’t want to sell anything made this way – but looks just as good from the front!
I won’t repeat the parts that are the same as Example 1, but I’ll go into a bit more detail on the sewing here, in case you need a little extra assistance with that part.
To start, I cut my felt backing to be slightly larger than the top of the barrette, and decided on arrangement of blossoms that would completely cover the barrette. Tip: to make your arrangement look natural, don’t arrange your pieces so they are completely symmetrical – it will look more stylish if the two sides are balanced but not identical.
Trim the felt, if required, as in Example 1.
(If you’re using a barrette like mine, pull out the spring clip from the middle as I’ve done here to make the sewing easier.)
(Don’t forget to fit the spring clip back into place!)
As you can see, a few of my stitches show on the exposed felt. I recommend that you match your thread colour to your felt, so the end result will look tidier. (Obviously I wanted you to be able to see my stitches for the purpose of this tutorial!) But, from the front, it’s absolutely perfect:
I hope these examples give you a general idea for how to make crocheted accessories using clustered embellishments. Part of the appeal is that this is all very flexible – there’s no right or wrong way to do it – and you can choose your method depending on the size and shape of your pieces, how sturdy you want it to be, and how neat you want the reverse side to look.
One last tip: it’s best to look for hardware (hairband, barrette, pin back, etc) that’s wide enough to securely stitch your appliqué around the top of the hardware without it swinging down to either side. For narrower hardware, you can also support a more dimensional item (e.g. my Basic Rose) with a stitched-on felt backing, which gives it a flatter base that’s easier to attach.
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Crocheted embellishments can be a fast, easy way to customize an outfit, cover a stain, or make accessories. With a little more effort, you could use my clustered embellishment technique to create a complex, unique, show-stopping piece! I hope you’ll be inspired to get creative and add a little something extra to just about anything with crocheted appliqués…
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