Tips to Make Your Beading Stand the Test of Time

More than any other sort of embellishing, I love beading. But beading is so much more than merely stitching beads to a garment or accessory. If you really want your beading to last, you want to take some precautionary steps:

This beading sample tries out a
variety of beads and designs.

Always make a sample: Just as you make a swatch for knitting to check your gauge, it's a good idea to make a sample for beading. For instance, if you are developing a bead design for a garment, make a small sample of the type of beading that you want on a square of muslin. You can try out several designs and types of beading this way. Your samples don't have to be large. Just try out a few inches of different styles. You'll be amazed how soothing it is to bead small samples.

Love your embroidery hoop: For samples and smaller appliqués, use an embroidery hoop to give a firm beading surface. Try to work at chest level and make a stabbing motion with your needle through the fabric. Just fyi: Larger pieces, such as beaded gowns, should be done on a scroll frame.

Take your sample to the cleaners: If your beading will be permanently attached, make your sample on a test swatch of your fashion fabric and "clean" it. If your final garment will be washed, you should do the same with your beading sample. Dunk it in water and see if there is any dye on the beads that runs. Or dry clean, if that's your final plan for the garment. It would be a tragedy if your beads ruined a garment you've spent precious time on!

Consider the appliqué: Better yet, don't bead directly to your garment. A removable appliqué can be taken off during cleanings and can be moved from one garment or accessory to another. Bead appliqué works best on a polyester organza base. Match the organza to your garment color. Note: Your dry cleaning costs much less if you remove the beading.

Learn to love the backstitch: If you've ever seen one loose bead ruin a whole row of beading by pulling them all off in a snag, you will understand how essential the backstitch is to beading. After applying a bead, take one small backstitch before applying the next. With each bead having its own anchor, it stays on or falls off alone.

With these tips, you are well on your way to beading that will last. To get more beading inspiration, pre-order the new Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples book in the Sew Daily Shop.

Are you into beading? I would love to hear if you have any tips for embellishing with beads.

Happy stitching! 

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Embellishment, Hand Embroidery

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.