Beading Projects: Tips For Beading On Fabric

The next time you're in the mood for shopping, don't buy clothes, buy beads and you'll have plenty of new outfits to wear.

A few beads here, a few beads there, and presto! You've created an entirely different wardrobe with very little investment. And best of all, you can change the same outfits to new and exciting ensembles any time you desire.

Choose a shirt or sweater from your closet, preferably long sleeved. Whether it is V-neck or scoop neck, you can jazz it up with a few beads. String beads on a piece of nylon thread or lightweight fishing twine, tying a knot first at one end. If the hole of the bead is too large for the knot to contain it, stitch the knot of the string directly onto the collar area, beginning at the shoulder seam. Or, insert a small portion of glue through the hole of the bead, to hold the string in place while beading. Let glue dry thoroughly before threading the beads. For a very elegant look, choose small silver, gold or faux diamond beads and string enough to completely encircle the neck opening of the shirt. Use nylon or cotton thread for sewing on the bead strands. Attach to shirt by making a small stitch or two in between every 2-3 beads, grabbing a couple of the sweater threads while doing so. You can either make the stitches, knot and cut the thread, or go to the next set of stitches, from the underside, without snipping the thread in between each set of stitches. Finish connecting the strand by knotting it at the shoulder seam where you began. Do basically the same thing to the cuff of the shirt, beginning and ending at the inner wrist seam. This same pattern can be used, entwining 2 or more strands together before stiching them to the neckline and cuffs. For a more casual look, choose elongated beads and then put one large bead, such as a bear-shaped bead, right at the "V", or center of the neckline, then choose a smaller but similar bead for the cuffs.

When beading on fabrics, you have several choices, one being that you can string the beads and then attach them permanently. You can also tack the strung beads onto the garment and remove them later. Or, you can hot glue them on and rinse them off after wearing, but before laundering. The hot glue method cannot be used on most fabrics, but is suitable for tee shirts and jeans, so long as you use tiny dots of the glue. You have another option; you can string the beads and tie them onto the outfit like a belt. The idea behind making the beads removable is that you can change the look of an outfit by simply attaching new and different beads each time you wear it. Although this is a little time consuming, it's a fairly simple process to just snip the threads which are holding the previous beads on, and attach the new strand. Do not cut the strand itself; it can be re-attached to another garment. When detaching beads after using hot glue, soak the garment in water for a short while; the beads should be easy to remove, launder as usual.

Bead small patterns, like flowers, directly onto the fabric by threading your needle and going in from the backside to the area where your first bead will go. Stick the needle all the way through the fabric, pulling the thread until the knot catches. Thread one bead, settle it in place, then take the needle back through to the underside, holding bead tightly in place. Continue on to the next bead. It's helpful if you stencil your bead pattern onto your fabric. This can be done freehand or with a purchased stencil set. Smaller, flatter beads work best on jeans and skirts, but most bead sizes are suitable for embellishing shirts and sweaters.

If you want a quick fix without involving alot of time, use small dots of fabric paint as an adhesive to adhere the beads. Be sure and place sheets of newspaper or waxed paper in between the garment layers so the paint does not soak through to the other side. Let dry 24 hours. The beads will stay attached, wash after wash and this is a much quicker method than sewing them by hand. Although a true beader considers this cheating, it is a nice look in a fraction of the time.

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