Seed Bead Patterns And Projects

Seed bead patterns and projects for decorating whatever you could possibly want.

"Applique" is a derivative of the word "apply". Applique beadwork is beads sewn (applied) to fabric or leather to decorate it. This is very simple, although you may feel intimidated. The best thing to do is practice until you get the feel of it. I'll explain the steps, then set you up with a project of your own choosing.


small embroidery hoop

white felt squares

beading needles, size 12

glass seed beads, size 11

nylon beading thread, size B

small scissors

jar lids

Put a piece of felt in your embroidery hoop. Trim the excess off, not quite flush with the hoop. Cut about 2' of thread and thread a needle. These holes are rather small, so you may need a threader. Make a good-sized knot at one end. Pour one color of seed beads into a jar lid.

Bring your needle up from the bottom of your felt through to the top. Put 4 beads on, mentally numbering them 1,2,3,4. Lay them on the felt and put your needle back down into the felt at the end of that row of beads (after #4). Bring the needle back up to the top between beads #2 and #3. Put the needle through the last 2 beads (#3 and #4). Now you are ready to start again. Put 4 beads on, etc.

This is your basic stitch. Practice it in a row until you feel the beads are laying well on the felt. They should appear to just lay on it, not pulling the felt taut and not being very loose.

Make a row like that about 20 or 24 beads long. Put a row right next to it. Don't crowd the first row. Remember the beads should appear to be laying on the fabric. Add a third row. The purpose of this is to practice appliqueing the beads on in straight rows without crowding them. If it helps, draw a straight line on the felt to sew the first row onto. Then use that row as a guide for the rest.

When you feel comfortable with this stitch, try a small project. On your felt draw a small design in pencil. A sun or crescent moon, a simplified shape of a cat, bird or tree. A simple cross shape works well also. Don't draw anything too big or too complex, but at least 2" wide in circumference.

Put the felt in the hoop making sure the design is centered. Choose your beads and put each color into a jar lid. It's easiest to keep the colors separated.

The objective is to fill your design with color (beads). If you have a regular shape, like a cross, begin your beading on a line. Work your way across the design until it is completely beaded. If you have an asymmetrical or curvy design, begin in the center. Put a line of beads down the middle, either following the general design shape, or simply make a straight line. From here, work your way to the outside on each side of that line.

Once you have the basic shape filled in, outline it with the color of your choice. This can be matching or contrasting. There will be places where the felt shows through just a little. That can't be helped.

When the outlining is done, remove the felt from the hoop. Very carefully - I can't emphasize that enough! - cut around your picture. If you're not careful, you may cut some threads! As you cut, keep checking the back side to be sure you're far enough away from any threads.

Now this piece of beadwork can be used to decorate all kinds of things! I have sewn them onto purses, shoes, leather jackets, jean jackets, cowboy hats and baseball caps. You can glue them onto books, jewelry boxes, or anything else you want to decorate. To sew yours onto fabric or leather, put a dab of glue in the center to hold it in place. Then sew the edges down with a running stitch between the outer rows of beads.

You can also refer to any number of books on Native American and contemporary beadwork for design ideas and ways to embellish your beadwork with fancy edging or fringe. Only your imagination can stop you now!

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