Get Your Bead Oncomments (12) July 1st, 2011
During a busy, busy photo session for the summer issue of SewStylish, we all stopped to notice a great dress brought by our issue stylist. She does a fantastic job of providing accessories to go with the RTW and sewn garments in the issue. The white dress with a bib of bright beads, shown on page 59 in "Two Summer Totes," is by Ronni Nicole.
Would you like to add some beaded glitz to a garment? Don’t think twice about it. Beading is one of the easiest and most eye-catching ways to upgrade a garment—whether it’s handmade or store bought. Here’s what you need to know to bead a ready-made garment.
A simple running stitch is all that's required to add a line - or many lines - of beads to a garment. Simply move the needle and thread in and out of the fabric, pick up a bead and then repeat. Here's what you'll need:
- Sharps or regular beading needles
- Polyester, cotton, or silk thread that matches your fabric
- Beeswax (to strenthen and stiffen the thread)
- Embroidery hoop (optional)
- Fabric marker
Know how to hold it
When beading, the fabric must be stretched and held taut. For previously constructed garments, this requires a little ingenuity since they’re difficult to hoop. Holding the fabric taut with your hands may be the only option, especially in tight places such as sleeve edges or when the garment cannot be laid out any flatter.
There are two basic methods for securing beads using needle and thread. One is to stitch down each bead individually. This is best when beads are scattered across the garment. If the thread must cross an inch or more on the underside to get from one beading spot to another, take a tiny stitch between—ideally, camouflaged next to another bead—to prevent long floats of thread.
The beaded bib shown here uses a running stitch to apply a line of beads. It's a fast method, but only suitable when you want a line of beading. To create a bib look, like that shown here, it's best to plan and mark the beading lines. Notice how the example neckline widens or dips at the bottom - to achieve a similar look, you want to make sure the beads are spaced in parallel lines. Whether or not they spread apart is up to you, but you'll want to mark placement lines so that your beads don't meander.
Keep design in mind
The weight of the beads affects the drape of the fabric and, over time, the stability of the weave. Beading must be applied so its weight is balanced on the garment. This doesn’t mean counting the beads or beading only in symmetrical patterns; it means that a concentration of beads in one area should be counterbalanced. If you bead one sleeve, bead the other, too; if you bead the front of a blouse, add beads to the back as well.
Choose the right fabrics
You can bead on just about any fabric, as long as you prepare it. Cotton, linen, and silks work easily, but for chiffon or other lightweight fabrics, add an underlining to the beaded areas, and stitch through both layers; a second layer of the same fabric often works well. Don’t work on a knit or any stretchy fabric until you’re experienced with more stable fabrics and have a good sense of tension control.
Typically, it’s best to match your thread color to the background fabric, but in certain instances—such as when you apply transparent beads—you should use the thread color that gives you the best overall affect. Use a single strand of thread waxed with beeswax. Wax strengthens the thread and prevents fraying and tangling.
Care for your garment
Garments made of washable fabric can be hand washed if the beads are colorfast. To check the colorfastness of beads, shake a few in a small jar of warm water, drain, and let dry; then compare them to their unrinsed mates. Beads that are not colorfast will be noticeably paler than those that weren’t rinsed.
Most beaded garments can be cleaned by a good dry cleaner, but be careful. If a beaded garment needs ironing, either steam it without actually touching the fabric or the beads, press on the wrong side on a terry-cloth towel, or use a thick, pressing cloth. Glass beads can get hot enough to harm certain fabrics and threads.