Touch of Bling: How to Add Jewelry Embellishments to a Neckline

As a garment sewer, I like my creations to reflect the same trends currently featured on the racks in retail stores. I look closely at what gives the garments I see on display their updated styling. Often times it’s a particular use of fabric or the incorporation of a unique style detail; it can even be as simple as an added embellishment that transforms an otherwise basic silhouette into this year’s trendy look.

spacer bar trimmed neckline

What stands out lately is the trend towards clothing that has been embellished, most typically at the neckline, with simple jewelry-like elements. Tops and dresses are the most likely items to feature these stylish adornments. For the sewer these are easy elements to either add to or incorporate into the garments we make.

Here’s how to had a pretty jeweled embellishment to your next garment’s neckline.


Finding your jewelry

To add a little bling at the neckline start by looking in your own jewelry box for old jewelry that may feature interesting findings. Or, check out your local thrift store for vintage pieces with interesting, one of kind elements.

Your next best place to locate appropriate findings is to shop bead stores or the jewelry making departments at your local Jo-Ann or Hobby Lobby stores. There you will find all kinds of items that can easily translate into clothing embellishments.

Then there is always the Internet. Search for jewelry findings and you will find several sources where you can purchase many suitable items. Items falling in the categories of crimps, connectors, spacer bars or links will work best.

Note: You will have to disassemble the jewelry so grab a needle nose plier to extract the findings you want to use. Look for ones that have holes or connectors that can be easily sewn onto your garments.

Adding your jewelry

Adding a jewelry element can be as easy as just hand sewing some beads or metal findings to a garment! All you’ll need is a regular all-purpose thread and a needle fine enough to pass through beads or other selected findings.

Spacer beads or metal spacers incorporated into or at the ends of strands of beads can add a finishing touch. They also help to conceal the appearance of any threads. To add elements, start by marking the the exact placement of the jewelry elements on the garment neckline with either pins or fabric pens.

bead embellishment

Beginning at one end and using a double strand of thread that has been knotted, sew a small double stitch to anchor the elements. Pass the needle through all the beads and spacers and then secure the strand with several tight stitches at the opposite end.

Incorporating jewelry elements into the construction of a garment gives the neckline a clean and more professional appearance. One way to incorporate them is add a V-neck or keyhole openings to any plain neckline and then close the opening with an interesting spacer bar or two. Spacer bars typically feature holes at each end which will be used for sewing them to the garment. The trick is to conceal the holes within the construction of the neckline opening.

Here is how you conceal the holes during construction:

1. Cut the neckline facing a bit wider than usual – 3 ½” instead of the usual 2 ½” to allow enough room for the keyhole or V neck opening.

2. Find the center of the neckline and draw a vertical line along the center front.

keyhole opening the length of spacer bar
3. Measure the width of the spacer bar from hole to hole.

4. Draw the seamlines for the opening using the spacer bar measurement.

5. Sew in the facing along the neckline edges only.

6. Stitch the V or keyhole opening starting approximately 3/8” (or the width of the spacer bar) from the neckline seam. This will create a small opening for the spacer bar to fit so it can be attached/sewn to the seam allowances and concealed within the facing.

neckline and keyhole sewn   underside
facing clipped and turned
spacer bar opening
7. Trim, clip and turn the facing right side out and press into place.

8. Insert the spacer bar into the small openings and stitch each end to the seam allowances.

spacer bar hole exposed  spacer bar stitched

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