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Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Some Tiny Embroidery for Jewelry – with Free Patterns!

 

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I’ve started playing with some miniature pieces of embroidery to use in jewelry bases.

If you’ve been following along on Needle ‘n Thread for a while, this probably won’t surprise you too much, because I love little embroidery projects – and when it comes to embroidering for jewelry bases, well… that’s pretty little!

The fun thing about these little embroidery projects is that they take very little time to work up, if you’re not making anything too complicated. I’m not even talking about a weekend project – I’m talking about a morning or afternoon project!

It all depends, though, on how complex you make the embroidery.

I went with pretty simple. I still need to get some aspects of the whole process ironed out. I’ll tell you what went well, what didn’t, what I will change for the next time, and I’ll share resources and some free patterns with you, so you can stitch up your own little autumn embroidery bits, too!

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

My first attempt was the brooch / pendant above. This comes from the new collection of jewelry finishing kits from Nunn Design.

The kits are not embroidery kits – they are kits for finishing embroidery into jewelry.

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

The kits come with the bezel (or setting), the insert that you mount the embroidery on, and instructions on how to set up and finish your little project into a piece of jewelry.

In the photo above, the silver middle is the insert. You remove that little round piece (which is finished so that the edges are smooth) and you mount your embroidery over that.

This silver disk, in fact, gave me a little trouble due to the materials I used for my stitching – I’ll tell you about that below!

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

The back of this particular brooch / pendant setting is finished so that it can be either a brooch or a pendant. I prefer it as a brooch. The brooch hardware on the back keeps the pendant, if on a chain, from resting flat on the person wearing it. It kind of tilts to one side or the other if it’s resting on the wearer’s chest. So I think these work best as brooches.

The rings there, by the way, tuck to the back so they aren’t visible when worn as a brooch.

I was thinking, in fact, of finding a copper leaf charm and using the pendant rings to add a little dangling charm to the outside of the brooch. Why not add a little extra bling if you can, right?

The new collection from Nunn Designs launched this week, and it has some interesting things in it. In fact, the model embroideries that they use to display the jewelry settings are gorgeous – if you have a chance to visit the website just to take a look at the embroidery, do!

What I especially like, though, is the idea of the hardware for finishing the pieces into small ornaments. This approach to little embroidery mounted in pretty settings for ornaments actually captures my interest more than the jewelry aspect.

But I also like the idea that you can create a little seasonal piece of embroidery, mount it in a pretty brooch base, and pin it onto a coat lapel, for example. It’s a fun way to “season” things up!

What Went Right, What Went Wrong

Whenever I first start playing around with some kind of new-to-me stitchy idea, I generally plow headlong into experimenting without necessarily thinking the whole thing through!

And this can be problematic, because I will, inevitably, make mistakes that I could have avoided, had I bothered to think for a minute or two.

This is the sanguine side of me. I get a wild hair to try something, and I jump right in, eager to see the quickest results …which will then tell me if I want to pursue the whole thing any further.

I don’t really recommend this approach. On the bright side, it allows me to make mistakes for you, so that you can avoid them!

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

I began by doodling up some little twiggy and leafy things that smack of autumn.

I traced these onto fabric.

My first mistake was my fabric choice. I grabbed whatever I had close at hand, which happened to be a small scrap of shadow work linen. This linen is really too sheer for this type of finishing, unless you put another fabric behind it. The silver insert of the jewelry kit shows through if you use a fabric that’s too sheer.

With the first leafy embroidery, I stuck a piece of non-woven interfacing behind it when I mounted it over the silver disk. This whole process was a pain in the… neck, so the upshot: best to choose fabric that isn’t quite so sheer!

Additionally, I found the linen a little stiff for the finishing method. It was hard to get a really smooth edge around the insert. In the future, if I use a different linen for the same process, I’ll probably experiment with other approaches to finishing.

My second mistake was including the outline of the circle in the design.

Don’t trace the circle or “frame” around the embroidery! If you’re not stitching over that circle as part of your embroidery design, you’ll just have to remove the lines somehow from your fabric. And that’s another big pain in the… neck.

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

For the leafy piece, I based the design on Octoberfest!, so if you already have that e-book and you’ve worked the project or plan to work it, you probably have all the threads and beads on hand to make this little brooch. The instructions are the same instructions for Octoberfest. And the design is included in the free printable below.

I like this little leafy piece, but here’s another thing I did wrong!

I didn’t have any clear nylon beading thread on hand, and I didn’t want to use colored thread behind the lightweight linen, so I used a white sewing thread to sew the beads on.

Looking at the pendant directly on, it’s not so noticeable, but looking at it from the side, I don’t really like seeing the white thread used to attach the beads.

The fix: if you’re using beads, either invest in nylon beading thread that’s clear and practically invisible but is a pain in the (neck) to work with; or use a color that corresponds with the beads, as long as your ground fabric is either colored or heavy enough not to show the thread passing between the beads.

Autumn Embroidery for Jewelry - free patterns

This is one of the plain bezels from Nunn Design. Their bezels (which are made in the US) are all plated with either copper (the first one I showed you), 24k gold (this one), or .999 silver, so, material-wise, they’re very sturdy and they’re nicer materials than the cheaper bezels from made-in-China markets.

One of things I really like about their settings, though, is that the “tray” that takes the insert is deep – much deeper than most bezel trays, which are normally 1mm deep. These are at least 3mm deep, which works great when you’re mounting something like embroidery – it covers the edge of the mount well.

So, this little twiggy bit above is simple – just some stem stitch and some 15/0 seed beads. Again, next time around, I’ll pick different ground fabric and I’ll use different thread for attaching the beads. But I like the simplicity of the twigs, and I like the sparkle of the beads!

In fact, after experimenting a bit, I like the whole process, and I plan to pursue a few more ideas in this whole vein. I’m not going into full scale jewelry production or anything – I just have a few notions for Christmas gifts and perhaps for ornaments. We shall see what develops!

Free Patterns Printable

If you want to toy with some quick little embroidery for fall to mount in jewelry settings, here is a printable with three twiggy and leafy designs that fit into a 32mm round bezel.

When you print the designs, choose “no scaling” or “100%” in your print dialogue box, to get the correct size.

Three Autumn Embroidery Bits for Jewelry (PDF)

I strongly suggest that you do not transfer the dashed line “frame” around each design.

The whole set up and finishing instructions for making into jewelry or ornaments using bezels like the ones above are explained in the jewelry kits from Nunn Design, and they also have a link to a video tutorial on their kits page for the embroidered jewelry items.

Resources

You can find the bezels that I used for these samples here through Nunn Design. Look under their “embroidery kits,” which include the bezels, the insert, and instructions for setting up and finishing into jewelry.

You can find Octoberfest! here, if you’re looking for something a little larger to stitch for autumn.

You can find the specialty thread pack that I used for the samples above here at Global Artisans (formerly Akonye Kena), the distributor for House of Embroidery threads in the US. They have recently ordered new thread packs for Octoberfest!, so if if you order now, you’ll receive the thread pack when the new shipment comes in. Use the coupon code MARY2018 for a 10% discount on your whole order, and, if you live in the US, domestic shipping is free with the coupon code SHIPPING.

This article may contain affiliate links, which means that Needle ‘n Thread gets a small kickback for any purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you. Thanks! Every little bit counts!

 
 

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(16) Comments

  1. I love mini embroidery and will definitely investigate whether these are affordable to buy from the UK. Do please add that copper leaf charm you mentioned, it sounds like just the thing to make the whole thing even more unique than it already is (with apologies to everyone who shudders at the use of “more unique” – I wouldn’t normally, honest)

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    1. I’ve been looking for one, Ilke – because, after all, “more unique” is more unique than just unique! LOL! 🙂

      I’m sure there are sources for jewelry settings similar to these in the UK. Look for cabochon bezels or something similar. Lately, it seems like shipping is pretty hefty when going from the US to the UK or visa-versa. I don’t know if the exchange rate makes it worthwhile for you or not, especially if you end up having to pay customs fees. But I would imagine you can find similar settings over there, too!

    2. Thanks Mary – I’ve just checked and postage is $18 minimum, and then there’s customs and handling fee (which is a standard £8) so probably not worth it.
      But thanks for suggesting search terms to look for them locally – it helps to know what to Google 🙂 !

  2. You can draw the circle on the back of the fabric and stitch around it so you can see the area to be visible without leaving a mark. And you can do this sort of thing on buttons that are made to be covered with fabric if you don’t need the bezel. I recently took a workshop with Margaret Kinsey on making such button jewelry with ribbon embroidery and beads, and it can be quite beautiful. We used large buttons, about 1.5 or so inches. I won a blue ribbon at the Dutchess county fair with my first effort!

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    1. Hi, Christine – Yes, embroidered buttons are a ton of fun! My ebook Labender Honey & Other Little Things has a whole section devoted to them & different ways they can be used!

  3. Oktoberfest is exactly what I was looking for, though I didn’t quite know it until I read this post. I wanted something for self covered buttons for a sofa cushion I am making for my mother’s 87th birthday next month! This is perfect.

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  4. I’m inspired! And I looked at all their kits and chose what I want to try first… and there’s a minimum order of $100! I’m using the correct link? What was your retailer? Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Amber – when you follow the link in the article above, just click on the main picture on the page, which is, right now, linking to their embroidery finishing kits. It sounds like you might be clicking on their wholesale link…

  5. Dear Mary

    These jewelry Finishing kits are lovely and would make lovely Christmas gifts or Christmas decorations and a great way to display embroidery projects. I can see that they would be easy and simple to embroider using your free patterns. Thanks so much for sharing these lovely mini jewelry kits with us and for the links to Nunn Design she has some lovely bezels on her site.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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  6. Hi Mary,
    I just need to verify something…. The kit you had could be a brooch or a necklace, but if if used as a necklace would not sit flat. But I’m looking at the website and there are some kits which are just necklaces. You used the ‘either or’ kit, not the ‘just necklace’ kit correct?

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  7. Thank you for the reminder of Lavender Honey. I bought it a few years ago, but haven’t looked at it. I need to make a hedgehog button/pendant!

    Peace

    Christine

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