Sky Horse from 2014. This quilt won several ribbons and was shown at Houston IQF in 2014. It is inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula.
I was just listening to Dee’s Saturday Sampler (TQS) talking about adding hot fix crystals to quilts. Now she did a nice presentation. But there were a few points that I would like to add. I have lots of experience doing this across the years, especially for my deep space quilt series and Christmas quilts. Also, I add a few crystals for many other types of quilts. Even though I wrote about this in a blog back in 2018, I thought it was time to revisit this technique and update what I said back then.
Stellar Nursery, my first deep space quilt using NASA’s “Mountains of Creation” pictures.
My love for embellishments started decades ago when I had my own fashion design and tailoring business when I designed and my shop made formals, wedding dresses, and costumes for operas, dancers, and skaters. Back at the beginning of that business, I hand sewed or glued most of my embellishments on. Now I mostly use hot fix embellishments, including Swarowski crystals, hot fix pearls, and different shapes.
Out of Mom’s Workbasket. This quilt won Third Place in the Traditional category in Pennsylvania National Quilt Festival 2021. I did not show it elsewhere because it is white and precious to me. I used hot fix pearls across the quilt.
I recently replaced my hot fix crystal wand. It works very well for me especially when I use hot fix transfer tape! What a great invention and what a wonderful improvement to my crystal placements!!! It works also with digital cutters that make hot fix crystal designs, such as the Brother Scan and Cut, but you need the Rhinestone Starter Kit to go with it for that. I do not have this kit, so I have not tried making them.
Sew here are my steps for adding hot fix crystals to a quilt.
- Put on your music or audiobook.
- With your craft or old scissors, cut a piece of the transfer tape (I use both a smaller cut of around a six inch square and a larger cut of about a 10 inch square. It’s reusable about four or more times.
- Place the item you are embellishing flat on the table or ironing board.
- Remove the backing from the transfer tape.
- Working in sections, place your hot fix crystals (or other hot fix embellishments) on a section of the quilt in the pattern you want them .
- Lower your transfer tape piece carefully down over the section of crystals trying not to disturb the pattern and press it down around the crystals and more or less attaching to your project.
- Grab a large ceramic cup or dish to put your hot wand into. I think the cup works a little better than the dish shown here, but either one works better than those little stands that comes with some of them.
- With the wand iron, heat each crystal with the tape still in place for as long as it needs. You can move the whole tape with the crystals on them a little bit as you need them. Hold it firmly in place and tap your toe, or count slowly.
- tiny ones require about 12 toe taps or slow counts.
- medium ones require about 20 counts
- the larger ones require more…30 to 40 counts to be really secure.
- the shaped ones do best with a small iron flat on the tape. I did have one iron get too hot on the tape once and it melted a piece of the tape! I only had it happen once and that iron died shortly thereafter, so it may have been operating badly on the way out.
The transfer tape does not melt and acts as a pressing cloth, protecting the fabric to which you are attaching the crystal from burns by the wand. It also holds the crystals in place so they don’t go flipping off into never never land. If it gets just a little out of alignment, you just move the tape…the crystal stays on the tape until it is fully glued down and then releases with no problem. This means you can pick up your tape slowly to check if you’ve missed one or if it needs more time and replace the tape if so.
Another way to approach it is to place multiple crystals on the tape upside down with the crystals to the sticky side and just move the tape around and place the crystals on one by one. This is a particularly good method for clothing and other shaped pieces when you are having a hard time getting them flat for crystal placement.
I like to shake the quilt when all the crystals are cool to see if anything falls off. Sometimes it does, but now is the time to find out. So just put the crystal back down and cover it with the tape and re-iron. Occasionally, a crystal does not seem to have adequate glue, so you can throw that one away and use another one, or use glue to affix it.
These crystals and pearls really add some loveliness to your projects. They are washable and durable, especially if you shake the item to make sure they are fully attached. Some say it is possible to get carried away with such crystals and pearls. Some quilt police types feel they should never be on your quilt. I say, it’s your quilt. Add the sparkle you want and ignore them and enjoy your blinged out piece.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio!!!