Whether you’re new to using Perler beads or are a die-hard fan looking for inspiration, you’ll find everything you need in this post. We’re answering all of your Perler Bead questions, including what to make, where to find free patterns, and how to make your own patterns.
(This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Perler Bead Basics
If you’re a beginner at using Perler Beads, you’ll want to start here since we cover everything you need to know to get started.
Just interested in finding patterns and project ideas? Use the table of contents above to jump right to the section you need.
What are Perler Beads?
Perler Beads are small plastic tubular beads that, when ironed, fuse together. “Perler” is just one brand of several that sells these fun and crafty beads. The non-branded names are “fuse beads” and “melty beads”, and we often use the terms interchangeably.
How do they work?
When working with Perler Beads, you’ll use a plastic peg board as your canvas. These peg boards come in lots of different sizes and shapes, so you can make a huge variety of designs. You can even connect square canvases together to make large designs. When you finish your design, you fuse it together with heat from an iron.
How to Iron Perler Beads
- You’ll need parchment paper, your finished design, an iron, and a heat-safe surface. If you are worried about damaging your table, you can use a towel to iron on.
- Set your Iron to a medium setting (I usually put mine between polyester and silk) and make sure there is no water in it. Cover the bead design with your parchment paper and iron in a circular motion until the beads are fused together.
- Remove the design from the canvas board, turn it over, cover with the ironing paper, and iron that side until the beads are fused. This method creates a solid bond so your designs don’t fall apart.
Here’s a video showing how to do these steps, along with two other methods of fusing the beads. It’s a little dated and corny, but the info is solid.
Perler Bead Crafts
Now that you know the basics, are you ready to start crafting?
Check out these fun crafts you can make with Perler Beads and get inspired!
What can you make with Perler Beads?
The beauty of Perler Beads is how versatile they are. You can make so many fun projects and the crafts you can create go well beyond making flat pictures on a bead canvas.
Make Your Own Jewelry
- cactus earrings with pom poms
- fused bead rings (inspiration only, no source)
- beaded necklace
- fused bead bracelet
- melted Perler Bead heart earrings
- simple Perler Bead pendant necklaces
- melted bead bracelet
- cute ghost earrings
Make Your Own Perler Bead Coasters
The large square and circle pegboards are perfect for making drink coasters for your home. Here are some fun designs that I love, but this is definitely one of those areas where you’ll want to add your own personality and can get as creative as you want!
- Perler Bead flamingo coasters
- vintage floral design Perler Bead coasters
- woodland animal coasters
- geometric patterns coasters
- summer fruits Perler Bead coasters
Frame Your Creations
Framed fuse bead art adds a fun, retro vibe to your desk or room! This example is from Etsy. Find it from Seller RetroJimtendo
Turn any of your smaller Perler Bead creations into fun magnets for your fridge or the magnet board in your office. I love these food related magnets for the fridge:
Create Fancy Bowls
Are you looking for something very functional to make? These Perler Bead bowls range in difficulty from very easy (the middle bowl) to very difficult (the first bowl), so there is something for everyone. They make great home decor and you can keep all your little special items in them.
Accessorize Your Phone
Dress up your phone with your own personality using these Perler Bead ideas for phones and cords.
- Perler Bead phone designs
- Cookie earbud holder
- BB8 earbud holder
- Pokemon earbud holder
- Rainbow earbud holder
- Minecraft earbud holders
You can turn any of your small Perler Bead creations into key rings by adding inexpensive keyring findings.
- Perler bead backpack hangers
- Fruit Key rings made with Perler Beads
- Cactus Perler Bead key rings
- Retro camper keychain
Make Perler Bead Gift Tags
It’s always fun to add a special touch to gifts throughout the year. We love hanging our Christmas Perler Beads on our gifts for the holidays, but there are so many ways to add a homemade hanger on gifts for birthdays and other holidays.
- Classic holiday gift tags
- Bright and colorful gift tags
- Alphabet gift tags
- Christmas gift tags
- Cute Fox Gift tag from our Christmas Perler Beads
Perler Bead Patterns
Now that you have lots of ideas for some of the different things you can do with Perler Beads, let’s switch gears and talk about patterns.
In this section, we’ll cover where to find patterns you can use for your projects and I’ll talk about some different ways you can make your own Perler Bead patterns.
Where to Buy Patterns
We have found two great sources for buying patterns of things we want to make with our melty beads: kits and pattern books.
Buying a Kit
Kits are great because they come with all of the right bead colors that you’ll need for your project and they usually whatever shape bead canvas the patterns require. With a kit, you know you’ll have everything you need. The downside to these kits is they generally come with fewer patterns than the other options.
Buying a Bucket
Sometimes these buckets end up being a better deal than the other craft kits. For example, the Harry Potter kit below comes with 27 patterns and almost twice as many beads as the one in the box above.
- Harry Potter Bucket of Perler Beads – 27 patterns and 8500 beads
- Minions Bucket kit – 6500 beads, 3 canvases, and 14 designs
- Star Wars bucket of Perler beads – 27 projects and 8500 beads
Getting Some Pattern Books
We have found some great pattern books on Amazon. Some of them are actually free if you have Kindle Unlimited. You’ll find that you can get a lot of patterns for hours of fun in books like these.
Where to Find Free Perler Bead Patterns
Once your kids get started on Perler Beads, they’re going to be on the hunt for some exciting new patterns. The internet is a treasure trove of amazing Perler Bead patterns, but sometimes if can be hard to sort through everything and find something usable. Often times you’ll just have an image to go off of instead of an actual template to follow. But, sometimes people will include the actual pattern they used to make their creations.
We include printable patterns with all of the melty bead projects we post. Here are some of our patterns you can print (links to posts below image):
- Gnome and Fairy Garden Perler Bead Pattern
- Easy Snails Perler Bead Pattern
- Amazing World of Gumball Patterns (Gumball and Darwin)
- Cute Chameleon Perler Bead Pattern
- Cute Christmas Animals Perler Beads
- Marvel Perler Beads (Thor and Loki patterns)
- Halloween Perler Bead Patterns
- Space Perler Bead Patterns (not pictured)
Free Disney Perler Bead Patterns
Kandi Patterns is a great place to find patterns of the Disney princesses and other Disney characters. These are all from that site. Check it out and use the search function to find more pattern ideas.
Free Animal Perler Bead Patterns
Three more sites that I like that share free patterns are
- BraceletBook – Good variety of patterns and easy to search
- BRIK – Lots of good patterns but hard to search
- Krysanthe – Not as many patterns but a good variety of simple patterns for kids
Here are some fun animal patterns that are from those three sites:
Clearly, I’m drawn to cuteness, lol. But don’t worry if cute isn’t yours style. There are plenty of other patterns to chose from from these sources.
- Panda holding a heart
- Easy fish pattern
- Cute seal pattern
- Corgi butt
- Happy narwhal pattern
- Cute panda pattern
- Black cat
- Easy parrot pattern
- Colorful unicorn head pattern
How to Design Your Own Perler Bead Patterns
Have some Perler Bead design ideas you’ve been wanting to make and can’t find a pattern for? You can make your own patterns!
From my own experience, there are 3 ways you can go about making your own patterns, besides just free-handing it as you go: using old-fashioned graph paper, using a special 8-bit drawing app, and turning images into patterns using a pixelator.
This is a simple way to start fleshing out your ideas and lay out your design in a grid pattern. However, I find it very inefficient, especially if you’re still trying to work out the major design elements of your pattern.
This is a very simple drawing tool that is especially made for drawing images on a grid. I use this site when I want to start sketching out some ideas. It’s great because you can choose colors and draw on the page, and it automatically goes into a grid-style design. Adjust your brush size to control how detailed your design is.
The tool has it’s limitations, though. One downside is you currently can’t print from the site. So, when you’re done sketching out your idea, you’ll have to manually transfer it to a sheet of graph paper to keep it handy. Or you can take a screenshot of your image and print that, but you’ll lose the background grid in the printout which can be frustrating. Another limitation is that it only designs in a square grid, so you can’t really play around and experiment designing with other canvas shapes that Perler Beads come with.
Even given its limitations, Make 8-Bit Art is still my preferred method of designing my own Perler Bead patterns.
Perler Bead Pattern Makers
Rather than create a new design from scratch, you can turn an image you like into a grid pattern for fuse bead crafts using a pixelator tool. There are a few out there to choose from, but these two are the tools I think are best because they are specifically for beading. We’re looking at the Perler Bead Designer from Hobby-Family vs Beadifier:
Option 1: Perler Bead Designer from Hobby-Family.dk
This tool allows you to upload a photo or other image and specify certain aspects of your finished work, such as what size pegboard you want to use, if you’re using regular or mini Perler beads, and how big you want the pattern to be (number of panels).
As you can see, this made a very detailed pattern that would take 6 square pegboards to create. I don’t have the patience for that, but I know there are people out there would love to create something as detailed as this! I don’t like that there isn’t a way to remove more of the detail to make it a little smaller and easier.
Since I decided I wanted a smaller design, I went back and changed the pegboard size to 1 (much more manageable!). Here is the result:
I think if I made this as-is, it would be an ugly fish. But, I like the shape, so I think I would still use this as a guide to creating my own fish shaped pattern.
Option 2: Beadifier
Right away, you can tell that this tool has a much cleaner design. You start by uploading your image and used the same fish image that I used before. Then, once it’s upload you can play around with the results by adjusting the brightness and contrast and the number of beads across.
Here is the same fish image with different settings. You can see how the fish starts to get a little messy with less detail, but some of that is to be expected.
The pros of the Beadifier tool are that it is very intuitive and quick to use. I also like the ability to play around with the contrast and brightness and see the changes in real time. By adjusting the contrast you can add and remove detail in the design, which can be really handy.
I didn’t think the fish pattern it gave me was a nice-looking as the Hobby-Family tool, especially at the small (1 pegboard) scale.
This tool has an upgraded Pro version, which I haven’t used, that might address some of the shortcomings of the free version.
Perler Bead FAQs
No! There are lots of ways to use Perler beads without ironing. You can string them into chains and bracelets, you can melt them into shapes with your oven and cookie cutters, you can melt them in a bowl. You only need an iron if you want to fuse them together in a particular design.
If you run out the ironing paper that comes with the beads, you can use parchment paper instead.
For the normal sized beads, I would say kids around 5 or 6 would have the fine motor skills to make patterns. However, Perler also sells Biggie Beads, which are great for younger kids. In my experience, kids around 8 years old and up are at the best age because they tend have longer attention spans and greater fine motor control (Perler beads are great fine motor practice!).
I hope this guide has given you all the info you need to enjoy crafting with fuse beads!
My girls and I have spent many hours crafting together, so it really is something that can be a fun family hobby.
Enjoy, and if I left anything out email me and I’ll be sure to add it!