Beads are very charming and they bring that charm to the fabric with bead embroidery. The almost no-sweat way to add to the beauty of your fabric.
Here are the many ways to add beads to fabric
Filling the design with beads
To firmly anchor the beads inside the designs follow the steps given below- this is basically back stitching.
Come up to the surface with the needle and then thread 2 beads on the needle.
Go down some distance from the first point (distance to fill these two beads)
Then come up between these two beads.
And then insert the needle through the second bead. This will anchor the bead thoroughly on the fabric.
Now thread more beads; continue as you did earlier.
Fill the full design area in this manner. When you have done one row or some length of beads, you can go back through the whole line with the thread to straighten the beads.
If you have large areas to fill you may want to increase the number of beads you take in on the needle to more than 2.
Make small motifs with the beads and scatter all over the fabric or just fill some portions of embroidery with beads. This is most suitable when you want to cover a large area with not much weight or you do not have the time to cover the whole surface.
Outline stitches work very well to define design lines. Other than regular stitches, this can be done by couching stitches – a line of threaded beads are attached to the fabric using couching stitches. Learn how to do couching stitches
Stand alone beads
Stumpwork bead embroidery/Raised embroidery
This refers to a 3 dimensional work. You can use padding inside the beaded stitches to bring out the raised look. Bead weaving is done to create flower petals, leaves etc. Beaded beads and beaded buttons are also used.
To make this kind of lace work add bigger beads at regular intervals, as in the picture below.
Join these beads with smaller beads.
You can sew rhinestones on fabric on their own or add beads along with the rhinestones.
Tassels and fringes
You can add tassels and fringes along edges or anywhere you want.
Check out this post on different types of beaded tassels you can make.
This is a method of attaching beads with a chain stitch using a special needle; this method is also called tambour embroidery.
Check out this post on doing Aari embroidery with beads.
Bead embroidery basics
There are some caveats to bead embroidery. Nothing serious but if you take care of these you will have a thing of beauty forever.
Ensure that the fabric you have is up to the work you will be doing with the beads. Too heavy beads and too heavy designs can sag thin cloth/open weave cloth. You can use a backing(fusible interfacing)/ muslin fabric underneath to give the fabric the needed strength. This is cut slightly larger than the design area and attached to the back.
Preshrink the fabric before doing the bead embroidery.
The color of the beads also should be optimal for the design and the fabric you are embroidering it onto. Check out this post to know more about the color combinations you can use.
You can use a Polyester thread or even a nylon thread to sew the beads – Synthetic thread is stronger than cotton thread – no danger of sharp edges of beads easily cutting the thread. As for needles use thin long needles with a small eye – they should go through the small holes of your beads and be long enough to thread many beads at once.
On fabrics which cannot be marked properly with a chalk, you can sew basting stitches /running stitches to indicate the design lines. You can also use the dissolving backing (washaway) to mark the design.