9 different ways to add beads on fabric

Various styles and techniques to add beads on fabric

Adding beads to fabric is like sprinkling a little magic on your creations. In this post, we’ll explore nine different ways to add bead on your clothes that can effortlessly enhance your projects; it is the almost no-sweat way of adding to the beauty of your fabric/garment. 

Related posts : 50 different types of beads; Beadwork Embroidery Stitch Glossary 

Filling the design with beads

bead embroidery done on chiffon fabric

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. 

thread bead through the bead embroidery needle

Go down some distance from the first point (distance to fill these two beads)

Push the beads down a little ahead

Then come up between these two beads. 

bring up the needle in bwteen the two beads

And then insert the needle through the second bead. This will anchor the bead thoroughly on the fabric.

bring the needle through the bead

Now thread more beads; continue as you did earlier. 

take up two more beads on the needle

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.

bead embroidery

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 curved bead embroidery stitches this way

Small motifs 

small motifs of bead work

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 stitch

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

outline bead work

Stand alone beads

single beads stitched to fill an area

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. 

raised bead flower embroidery motifs


netting done with bead embroidery

To make this kind of lace work add bigger beads at regular intervals, as in the picture below.

Join these beads with smaller beads.

Rhinestone work

rhinestone work

You can sew rhinestones on fabric on their own or add beads along with the rhinestones.

Attch beads as Tassels and fringes

tassels and fringes

You can add tassels and fringes along edges or anywhere you want.

Thread enough beads on the needle to make the fringe.

You can just string beads and let it fall down. Check out this post on different types of beaded tassels you can make.

Aari embroidery 

This is a method of attaching beads with a chain stitch using a special needle; this method is also called tambour embroidery.

Ari 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.

beads for the bead work

The color of the beads also should be optimal for the design and the fabric you are embroidering it onto.

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.

Related posts : 10 ways to make beautiful 3-d bead flower motifs; How to sew a beaded cord ; Hand embroidery stitches

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

3 thoughts on “9 different ways to add beads on fabric”

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