Brrrr… it’s Erica with Honestly WTF. We’ve been having an intense cold spell here in California, which means sweaters have been in heavy rotation so far. So much so that I’ve been inspired to gift the one thing I feel everyone needs this holiday: a turtleneck sweater! But of course, it isn’t a gift from me unless some personalization is involved. I love the idea of transforming an otherwise simple sweater into a chic statement piece with just a few pieces of inexpensive jewelry – in this case, a few strands of glass pearl beads. It’s so easy to do and you can even put it in the wash! I’m teaming up with JCPenney to show all of you how to make this cozy custom layer.

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Materials + Tools:

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Let’s do this!


Psst — you can pick up this cozy turtleneck (in tons of colors!) and double strand of pearls at JCPenney.


Start by cutting the clasp off the pearl necklace. Remove the pearls and store them in a small bowl.


Place a large dollop of embellishing glue onto a paper plate. Embellishing glue bonds jewels, beads, pearls and metal to fabric. It’s super strong and you’ll be able to wash your garment 7-10 days after application.


Carefully dip a pearl into the glue and place it at the top of the shoulder. Make sure the two holes are aligned on the sides. Continue adding pearls along the length of the sleeve, separating them by 2-3 inches.


Once the middle row has dried, add another alternating row to the left and right of the middle row. Continue adding pearls until the entire sleeve is covered. Make sure that each row dries before adding another.


Although the embellishing glue is sufficient in keeping the pearls in place, even through washes, another option is to stitch the pearls in place after the glue has dried for 24 hours. Simply thread a needle that is thin enough to fit through the pearls. Double knot the end of the black thread and push the needle through the bottom of the sweater, closest to one side of the pearl. Thread the needle through the pearl…


…and back down into the sweater. Pull the thread through the pearl again and double knot it from the inside.


Continue securing the pearls with thread until you’ve entirely covered the sleeves.

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There you have it — a simple and elegant way to upgrade a turtleneck. Pair it with culottes and mules for the work day, then swap for a festive skirt in the evenings — just like that, you’ve got a holiday season staple!
Will you be trying this DIY? If so, we want to see the results! Share photos on Instagram with the hashtag #iamcreative and #joyworthgiving so we can take a peek.
Photography + styling: Erica Chan Coffman