When I first tried to attach hot fix crystals to my embroidery I have to confess that I was not that successful. I don’t have a steady hand so it was a challenge. It is actually a matter of practise and well worth perfecting the process as it really can make a difference to your embroidery. Obviously not all embroidery designs lend themselves to embellishment but some of them cry out for it especially if they have been digitised for crystals.
Several years ago I subscribed to a monthly crystal club with Designs by Dawn. (Crystal Eye Candy)
This meant that over time I built up a collection of crystals and other exciting shapes. If you have never used crystals please visit Dawn’s site and see the huge variety of shapes, sizes and shades that are available, as these are the very best available, true Crystallized™ Swarovski Elements. I would advise treating yourself to the essentials first which are an Applicator wand, some tips in various sizes and a couple of trays to hold your crystals so they are easy to pick up. To have more variety of colours you may want to purchase the little mixtures of crystals. While you are there you may want to get yourself a shade card so you can match your crystal shades to your embroidery threads.
Just looking at all the beautiful colours is as good as visiting a sweet shop! My favourites at the moment are the various coloured pearls, but I noticed there are butterflies and buttons so I should get some of those for my crazy quilt embellishment! Preparation is the key so make sure you have everything at hand before you start and have an idea of which crystals you are going to use and where you will place them. Take a good look around her site and take time to read all her instructions and FAQs so you have an idea of how to attach them perfectly.
An old mirror works quite well as a surface to pick up your crystals from and you will need a few pins to dislodge any that get stuck in the wand. This usually happens when I have not given the crystals enough time to heat thoroughly. I have some fingered oven gloves that I use to change the tips that are too hot to handle and a pair of tweezers will come in handy too.
Tip: Count Slowly to twelve!
The most important thing to remember is that your wand needs to be very hot, and when you pick up a crystal you need to leave it there so the glue melts. As they are quite small you may not be able to see the glue bubbling which is a sign they are ready, so I always count to twelve slowly increasing by a few counts for the larger crystals. They will stay in the end of the wand when you pick them up almost by magic, until you press them in position. If the crystal doesn’t come out, don’t panic, simply place your pin in the gap above, holding the end where you want the crystal and push down carefully to release the crystal. For just a few seconds when you remove the applicator you can move your crystal slightly if its positioning is not exact but it is not possible to move it too far otherwise the glue will show on the edge. Be careful as it is red hot, so use your tweezers and then when the positioning it perfect push down. Once a crystal has touched the fabric it will leave a mark so you need to be sure that you have the right place.
I have also found it successful where placement is difficult and must be precise, in placing the crystal in the correct position and just holding the wand lightly over it, so that it heats up that way. This design comes from Anastasia’s Spring 3, a set for 9.5″ by 6″ hoops which I am releasing today. I decided to follow the example of Carl Faberge eggs that were made in Russia for the Romanov family of which Anastasia was a princess, and embellish the design with crystals, both green gold and in two shades of red.
Use the embroidery stitches in your design as guide lines. As you can see the crystal in the flower on the right is not quite central so you need to be careful and work slowly to avoid mistakes. Notice that using two sizes of crystal adds variety to the embellishment. So go on and get embellishing. Have fun!
Happy embellishing from Hazel