Skull-A-Day 4.0 - Tutorial - #24 Beaded Skull Broach

I've been hand sewing since I was a kid, so hand beading was a natural progression. In March of 2010, I made a piece call "Wind" for a show where I used to work. It had lots of beading and embroidery. However, in comparison to this beaded broach, the large canvas was much harder. Not because of it's scale, but because beading though stiff canvas is rough on my hands and tedious. If you make a mistake, it's really hard to hide the error...cover up the hole that still remains in the canvas. Cotton is much more forgiving in many types of sewing.

During the Dia de la Abby weekly posting on Skull-A-Day, I've made a variety of things. Now, if I haven't mentioned to you Skull-A-Day readers before, I have a degree in Fashion Design. My favorite things to make are fashion related items, mostly accessories. My closet and collection are a thing of envy. I have not made all the pieces, but it's a beautiful thing. I have made a few fashion related things for my Skull-A-Day posts. I made a dress for my daughter, a hand fan, a pair of shoes and a scarf. I thought it was time for some jewelry, so I made a beaded skull broach.

  • Size 10/0 Seed Beads in Black - I didn't count the amount of either color...sorry, I had a lot of them already in my supply stock. You can use a smaller size if wanted. I don't recommend using a larger size.
  • Size 10/0 Seed Beads in Clear that are iridescent - This is for the skull and picot fringe. You can choose a different color if wanted, just make sure it will stand out against the black
  • A Needle - Make sure it's thin enough where beads can easily slip over it and have a bit of wiggle room. Not all the beads will, but most of them should. Of course, you can't use the beads that won't go over, or you need a thinner needle
  • Black Thread - Most tutorials will tell you to use beading thread, but I have a large spool of thread that I bought for hand sewing. It's the kind that is supposed to be for sergers, but I don't have a serger and it was $1
  • A Large Half Ball Metal Cover Button - It's two pieces...a curved piece with teeth on the underside, that the fabric will lay on and a flatter piece with a ridge that snaps on the bottom to secure the fabric. I bought mine at a fabric store. Mine is about 1-7/8" wide, which will make a large broach
  • A Scrap of Black Cotton Fabric - Make sure it is big enough that the circle pattern for the button cover will fit on it. Also, make sure it is a nice sturdy quality. Thin fabric might not hold up well to lots of beading
  • Scraps of Black PVC, thin Vinyl or Felt - It needs to be the same color on both sides. Trust me, it will make your finishing easier. They need to be big enough that the back of the button cover will fit on them easily with excess. If you choose another color of outer beading, make sure you backing fabrics match the bead color
  • A Light Colored Pencil - This is for tracing the circle pattern on your black cotton and for drawing your design. White, light yellow and cream all work well
  • E6000 Industrial Glue - I will explain the use for this in the instructions
  • Small Scissors - You will be cutting small areas in a precise way. Make sure they are strong enough to cut through thin vinyl or PVC
  • A Seam Ripper - Good for both ripping stitches if you make a mistake and making the fabric go through the teeth of the button cover
  • Large Straight Pins - The kind with the ball heads will work best
  • Pin Back - It's a broach, so duh, it's needs a pin to attach it to things
  • 2 Small Bowls or Containers - This is for your beads to sit in. Mine are in a bead separator box. It has some empty spaces, which was good for placing beads that wouldn't fit over my needle

These have step by step photos. I like seeing those. I didn't do step by step photos because I knew I would be linking to these entries. This is for the bezel and finishing for the cabochon. I did some extra steps, because the button cover curves higher than a normal cabochon would. Also, the fringe is my take on a picot beading stitch, so I will explain that too.
I'm breaking this up into parts because the above tutorials are well written and I will refer you to those for certain sections of work.

Part 1: Making the beaded cabochon

1) The package for the metal button covers will have a half circle printing on it. Cut this out carefully.

2) Fold the black cotton scrap so the half circle will fit on it. Line up the straight part of the half circle with the fold. Use the light colored pencil to trace the curve onto the fabric. Remove the pattern and save it for reuse on another project.

3) Pin the fabric so it doesn't move when you cut the drawn line. Use the small scissors to cut along the line. Remove pin(s).

4) Place the top of the button cover in the center of the fabric circle. Using the light colored pencil to trace around it. This will give you an idea of where to start and stop your beading. There will be unbeaded fabric between the inner and outer circles. This is correct, as the unbeaded edge fabric will be encased later.

5) Use the light colored pencil to draw your design within the line of the inner circle. Decided where you want the different colors. For mine, the skull is the clear beads. The eyes, nose and background are black.

6) Thread your needle with a long piece of thread. Match up the ends. Double knot the ends together.

7) You can do your beading horizontal, diagonal or vertical. I chose horizontal. Starting at one edge of the inner circle pull the threaded needle through the fabric. Thread on a background (black) seed bead. Slide the bead to the end of the thread, where the fabric is. Put the needle back down through the fabric on the other side of the bead. This will secure the 1st bead of that row.

8) Pull the threaded needle back up through the fabric about a bead space away from the 1st bead of the row. Slide on a bead. Put the needle back down through the fabric where you secured the 1st bead. This is a backstitch method of stitching on the beads. I find it keeps the tension nice and the beads even. Keep doing this step, switching bead colors as you move along, until you reach the other side of the inner circle. Each backstitch will go down where you brought needle up on the previous bead.

9) When you reach the end, bring the needle up where the last bead and inner circle edge is. Take your needle and carefully run it back through each bead of that row. You might have to do it one or two at a time. You want this to be one continuous string of thread for this step. Put the thread straight and make sure all the beads line up straight. When you get to the end, put the needle back down where you started the row with the 1st bead. This step tempers the beads and keeps your piece neat looking.

Repeat steps 7-9 for each row until you have filled in the inner circle with beading.

10) The cover buttons that I got had a thick wire shank that was removable. I squeeze the bent wire together and wiggled it out of the top piece. If you have one, you too will have to remove it because you will need your finished cabochon to be flat on the back.

11) Lay the beaded fabric centered on the top of the cover button. Take the edge of the fabric and push it into the teeth on the back side. You can use the seam ripper to help you poke the fabric through the teeth. You want to stretch it tight. This is also the step where you can sort of "block" your work, like you would with crochet. You can readjust it if needed, by pulling different sections of fabric off the teeth.

12) After you are done adjusting and securing the fabric in the teeth to your liking, it's time to fasten the back plate. Place the back plate on the back of the top piece. Snap into place with your fingers and palms. You don't want to place it on a table, because, you don't want to break the beading you just spent hours doing. Voila, you have a cabochon!

Part 2: Beaded Bezel
1) Cut a square of vinyl, PVC or felt, that is larger than the cabochon's circumference. This is going to be the fabric that you build your beaded bezel off of.

2) Spread some E6000 glue to the back of the cabochon. Don't let it go to the edge. I recommend E6000 because you are gluing metal to fabric, and it will hold well. Center it over the back of the backing fabric (I hope that makes sense) and press down. Some glue might squish to the edge. If any squishes past the edge of the cabochon, try to clean it off. If you don't, you will have trouble sewing through the fabric. Smooth the other side of the fabric so there are few to no bumps. Let the glue dry for 12 hours with the fabric side down. Just in case any leaks (say, because you chose felt as your backing fabric) set it on a piece of wax paper, so you can easily peel the piece up after drying.

3) Follow these great tutorials for the beading part of the bezel. I found them really helpful.
You will have to use additional rows because the curve of the cabochon is high. When adding the rows, check to see if the backing fabric shows on the inside edge of the beading. When you can't pull the beading away from the cabochon, you probably have enough rows.

4) As you get to the last two rows, you will want to decrease your stitches. Use this tutorial for the 1st decrease row. For the last, string on two beads, and through the bead of the previous row. Keep doing this around. Make sure you are keeping the tension tight on your thread.

5) To finish off, work the needle down the inside of the bezel, to the backing fabric. Knot off.

6) Using the small scissors, cut away the excess backing fabric along the beaded bezel. Make sure you DON'T cut through the stitches.

Part 3: Adding the Pin and Finishing the Bezel

1) Cut a circle of black PVC big enough to cover the back of the beaded cabochon perfectly. Sew the pin back to the shiny side of the PVC square.

2) Using the straight pins, pin the PVC to the backing fabric of the beaded cabochon. You will want to pin along the edge, as you can not remove marks from punctured PVC.

3) Follow the instructions of this tutorial for the edge beading, but not the strings of beads for the hanging loops. You will remove your straight pins as you work around the perimeter PVC backing fabric.

4) I did another row of beading like I did to start the bezel. This was because I wanted a secure row of vertical beads, so I could do the fringe and because the 1st backing fabric, which was a white color (learned from my mistake) was showing too much for me to leave it with just the finishing row.

For the fringe, I wanted something more substantial (I'm not sure that's the word for it, maybe more prominently pointy). This is a variation on a picot edge.

1) Put your threaded needle through one of the edge beads on the row you just finished.

2) String on 4 beads.

3) Put your needle through the 3rd bead you strung. Pull the beads tight together, so the 4th bead is sticking up to make the point of the picot.

4) String on 2 more beads.

5) Skip 2 bead on the base row, put your needle through the third bead.

Repeat steps 2-5 until you have gone all around the beaded cabochon.

6) Put the needle back through to the edge of the PVC backing. Knot off the thread and clip it.

I know that was a lot of steps, but it's well worth it. I plan on making other beaded cabochon jewelry, so look out for those posts in the future.

Finished piece from top.

Finished piece from side.

Finished backing from top.

Finish backing from side.

Since I love playing with how to wear jewelry, I will make another post later today on multiple ways to wear a broach. Ok, that is all for now. Happy makery!


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