How to Make Your Own Beaded T-Shirt

This season's fashion is about embellishment. Anyone can update tired old clothes with some colourful beads and a needle and thread.

What You'll Be Creating

This season's fashion is all about embellishment. Great news if you're handy with a needle and thread! Update tired old winter clothes with some colourful beads and inject new life into your wardrobe.


  • Plain t-shirt
  • Range of colourful beads, including seed beads and wooden beads.
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread (in the same colour as your T-shirt)
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Chalk

1. Prepare the Fabric

Step 1

Pop on your T-shirt and mark off the shoulder line with chalk. This will be where you start the design.

Step 2

To add stability to the fabric, attach a rectangle of iron-on interfacing to the inside of the sleeve.

2. Create Your Design

Step 1

Find a flat working surface to lay out your beaded design. Measure your sleeve and mark out the dimensions with tape. 

Step 2

Starting from the centre, build your motif using symmetrical shapes and patterns. Try a few different designs until you find a style you like. My design is half the size of the sleeve so I can repeat it once.

Step 3

Take a photo of the motif so you don't forget the design.

3. Prepare to Sew

Step 1

Using tailor's chalk, mark out the area on the sleeve on which you will sew your beaded design.

Step 2

Cut off half a metre of cotton thread and thread your needle. 

Step 3

Turn the sleeve inside out, and sew a tiny stitch at the top of the sleeve (where you have previously marked out the design) and tie it off at the back. Make the stitch as close to the middle of the design as possible.

4. Sew on the Beaded Design

Step 1

Start sewing the beads onto the T-shirt one by one. Try to sew as close to the bead as possible. 

Step 2

Build up the beaded design and sew each individual bead into place. 

Step 3

When you have completed the first sleeve, repeat the process on the other side. Tie off and use more thread as required.

Show Off Your Handiwork

Tie up and trim all the loose ends of thread, and then you're ready to go. Care for your T-shirt by hand-washing it inside-out.

Now you know how to sew a beaded design on to sleeves, you could also try a beaded design around the collar and onto dresses and shirts to give them a colourful Mexican-inspired style.

Do you like upcycling and re-purposing old clothes? What will you be beading on your next project?