HEADWEAR TUTORIAL: Gem Encrusted Headband

The holidays are coming, and it's a great time to break out the fancy jewels in celebration of the year. Fancy things don't need to be expensive. This project is great for yourself, kids, or as gifts. It can be used on other things too. More on that at the bottom. I made mine using only the gems for sparkle, but if you want something over the top sparkly, I included instructions for that too! Though I made this for the holidays, knowing my daughter, she'll wear it for a normal day at school. Sparkly does have to be limited to one time of the year. I used many colors, because that is what I had on hand, and my daughter is a colorful person. However, you can use a limited a color palette, all neutrals, one color, all the same shape...etc. I do recommend using a variety of sizes ans shapes to help fill in the headband area. Ok, on to the tutorial!

  • 1 wide fabric covered headband - I bought mine from Dollar Tree
  • An assortment of plastic flatback gems - I bought an assortment of gems in various sizes and colors. You want the kind suitable for gluing, vs sewing. The sewing one have holes
  • E6000 glue - Excellent craft glue. Use in a well ventilated room. Any craft store should have this glue
  • A toothpick - Makes spreading glue onto the small gems very easy
  • Black acrylic paint - To recolor the headband. Black makes my colorful gems stand out well. You could use any neutral, but keep your gem colors in mind, so the combo looks nice
  • A paint brush - To apply the acrylic paint
  • A paper or foam plate - To squeeze the paint onto
  • Wax paper - To protect your work surface

  • Pearlescent black acrylic paint - An alternative to flat black
  • Metallic black acrylic paint - An alternative to flat black
  • Folk Art's Extreme Glitter acrylic paint in black - Used on top of a coat of solid acrylic paint. Add extra shimmer
  • Tulip Fashion Glitter Bond - Best glue for adhering glitter to fabric
  • A small paint brush - For applying the glue precisely
  • Fine glitter - The color or neutral you chose should match the painted headband color
  • Spoon - For sprinkling the glitter
  • Mod Podge Gloss - For sealing the glitter and keeping it shiny


1) Use the sheet of wax paper to protect your work surface.

2) If your headband isn't black, you can use the black acrylic paint and a paint brush to change the color. I used a flat black, but alternatively, you could use the pearlescent or metallic black paints. Any of the blacks would work fine. The gems will pop nicely against the stark black, even if the black is shimmery. I laid a side of the headband on the wax paper, for drying. Let the headband dry completely before moving onto the next step.

3) Figure out the gem pattern on the headband, and set the gems aside in that pattern, for easy gluing. I figured out the majority of the pattern, making it symmetrical on both sides. I finished off the pattern later, after I had started gluing. Use the various shapes of gems to fill in the spaces. Your design doesn't need to be symmetrical. Create what ever design you want...rainbow, limited colors, neutrals, one color...it's your headband.

4) For gluing, I started with the largest gems. You can either squeeze the glue evenly directly onto the back of each gem, or use a toothpick to help. Apply glue to the back of the gem for the top, and gently press it into place on the headband. After I applied the large gems, I put the headband onto the cup, so it dried upright. Let the headband dry for an hour.

5) After the large gems have dried, you can apply the small ones. I did one side at a time. Squeeze a little glue up to the top, and use a toothpick to pick a little up. Using that toothpick, spread the glue on the back of one gem. Press the gem in place on the headband. Do this for each gem. Since these don't need much glue, they will dry quicker than the large gems. This is a good place to re-access the design, and see if you need to add more gems. Place the headband back onto the cup to dry.

(OPTIONAL) If you want the headband to be glittery too, follow these steps. Work a small section at a time.

  • Use the small paintbrush to carefully apply the Tulip Fashion Glitter Bond onto the headband, in between the gems
  • Put a paper plate under the headband, to catch the excess glitter
  • Use the spoon, to sprinkle on a generous amount of glitter onto the wet glue. Tap off any excess onto the plate
  • Do this for the whole headband, to fill in the negative space between gems and down to the bottom edges
  • Set the headband back onto the cup to dry
  • Clean the glue off the paintbrush and dry it off
  • Dust any excess glitter off the gems with a dry paint brush, onto the plate
  • Pour the excess glitter back into the glitter container
  • After the glitter and glue is dry, use the small paintbrush and Mod Podge Gloss to seal the glitter.
  • Set the headband back onto the cup to dry
  • You can touch up any areas that are missing glitter, and put another coat of Mod Podge Gloss on, if you need to
Alternatively, you can paint on a few coats of Folk Art's Extreme Glitter in black over a coat of black acrylic paint. It's not as deep of a glitter as using the glue, glitter, and Mod Podge, but it still adds shimmer.

That's all for this project. You can apply this concept to fabric covered barrettes, fascinators, bags, shoes, clothing, basic frames...etc. Just use your imagination. Happy makery!


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