DIY: Crafty Chica Sugar Skull Iron-on Appliqués

When Kathy invited me to be a part of her Crafty Chica Design Team, you know I was hella excited. Yes, I said hella.

This is my favorite time of year and my studio is often bursting with creative goodness and over the years, the Crafty Chica line has always been a part of it. You have no idea how inspiring it was to walk into a major craft store chain like Michael's and see products I could identify with--sugar skulls, catrinas, shrines-- and incorporate them into my artwork, which is something I've done for many, many years.

It was major.

So, let's get to the goods--Crafty Chica® Iron-On Appliqués™. Love!  I'll admit, I've been somewhat of a hoarder. I bought a few appliqués last year. Then Kathy sent me a few more in a goodie box. And finally, she sent me a generous amount of the most recent product line at Michael's. Truth be told, I had sugar skulls coming out of my ears and that, my friends,  is a wonderful problem to have. At least, for me it is.

There have been so many amazing projects and tutorials made (which you can explore here) with the Crafty Chica line and I was just racking my brain, trying to think of something unique and totally me. I kept coming back to the fact that I love art and crafts with a functional purpose. You won't see me hot-gluing felt flowers onto pens or anything like that...and no disrespect to any of you felt pen-lovers out there. That just ain't me. I want something I loved enough to use in my own home.

I recently moved my daughters into a new room, and little by little I've been decorating it, time and finances permitting. I painted this vintage nightstand from the 50's in a custom turquoise, knowing that a petite lamp would be perf in this arrangement.

Normally,  I would reuse something I already owned, but everything was too large. So I just went out and bought one. But of course, being as frugal as I am, it had to be cheap. And by cheap, I mean under $10. And it came with a lightbulb--how is that for a bargain?

I was not discouraged by the dark, depressing color of this lamp. Little did it know I was about to change its sad, forlorn little life by injecting some major color.

Thanks to the lovely people at Krylon, I had an impressive collection of spray paint in colors that you can't just find anywhere. I mean, really, who wouldn't want the problem of choosing between two completely amazing shades of pink? I love Krylon paint, it goes on like buttah, baby. I ended up choosing Watermelon because...really....it's watermelon. It was the perfect shade of Now & Later watermelon candy. Mmmmmm!

I kept the plastic covering on the lampshade and then wrapped it with a plastic bag. In hindsight, I should've covered the cord in a plastic bag, too. Oh well. Don't forget plastic gloves! Spray paint does not wash off with water. Once you're all set, start with a light coat, to avoid drips. You could primer it first but I didn't--I don't mind the dark color peeking through here and there.

After I left the lamp outside to dry, I began to go through my Crafty Chica goodies. What I love about the iron-on appliques is that each pack comes with at least three items. I saved the larger sugar skulls for another project and kept all of the minis.

How adorable are these little guys? I was going to use Aleene's No-Sew fabric glue instead of a hot glue gun because I like to avoid the hot mess.Then I decided on Aleene's Ok to Wash It, for a permanent bond. I love it because it's not super tacky, messy and it doesn't have any fumes.

Once the chil'rens were all in bed for the night, I queued up a movie on Netflix that I can't normally watch when they are trailing in and out of my studio. You can't go wrong with a biopic like The Doors (with a young, thin Val Kilmer--meow) for 60's realness. I went ahead and gave my lampshade a wash of white Tulip Soft Fabric Paint, but after I saw how much the fabric sucked up the paint, I had second thoughts. The white wash was enough to brighten up the shade. You, of course, can totally avoid this step by just buying a white or natural color lampshade. Let it dry.

I decided I would scatter the sugar skull appliques like so.

Once I glued on the appliques, I started painting free-form shapes to accentuate the sugar skulls. I used the fabric paint so keep the lampshade soft and natural to the touch. No one likes a crunchy lampshade. 

Then I just sort of went crazy with the fabric paint, Tulip Fabric Paint Markers and my new favorite thing, Tulip Beads in a Bottle.


Yes, girl. Beads in a bottle. It'll change your life.

This is when I fell in love.

Love the organic shapes.

Don't be afraid of color--it doesn't have to be matchy-matchy!

I also incorporated the small flower appliques. Don't forget to add a trim you like. Or, you can just paint the one on the lamp like I did.

These guys make me smile.

Once it was all dry, I plugged it into my daughter's room. It was the perfect dim light for a nightstand. And the fabric paint and beads in a bottle gave the lampshade a three-dimensional effect. It reminds me of embroidery.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. This is one of those projects where something as simple and inexpensive as an iron-on applique can inspire you to create amazingly unique things for your home. This would make a really cool gift too, something you can totally fit into a weekend project.

And the main perk? My girls love their "fancy" new lamp on the nightstand. Perfect to read books at bedtime.

Go and get yourself some Crafty Chica goodness before it's all gone! Click here to see if your local Michael's carries the line.

Have fun!

Disclosure: I received several complimentary products from CraftyChica.com as part of the Crafty Chica Design Team, and was asked to share an original DIY project.


  1. Hi! Stumbled upon you from Think Outside the Blog. Oh my god, girl. I did not even know about her line at Michael's. Your lamp is AMAZING! What an inspiration.

  2. I seented the photos on your IG cause I stalk you on there LOL Your creativity freaking rocks!
    Thanks for joining Think Outside The Blog! :)

  3. this is so cool! I love it!

  4. brilliant I love it My daughter would love this shade. Where did you get the skull patches. I want to get them to sew on her camp blanket.


Break me off something.

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