Bead embroidery is a fabulous way to express your inner artist and make your embroidery uniquely yours. Anywhere you can use thread, you can use beads. Create one of a kind garments, home decor and craft pieces for pleasure, gifts or to sale. Etsy is a great place to get inspiration.
Although you don't need special supplies to do beading, you will need finer needles for stitching seed beads. You should also use beading threads, which are stronger and can help avoid a tragic loss of your masterpiece. There are some beautiful bead embroidery kits on the market but you also use regular patterns and kits or floral and designer fabrics for ready make patterns to bead.
Common Beading Stitches
Seed beads are the most common type used for embroidery and combining different sizes and colors will give your piece texture and dimension. Buying a seed bead collection with individual boxed containers and a wide variety of colors is the cheapest and most convenient way to get started and hone your skills.
However, not all beads are created equally and the lower end variety from China and India come in different shapes and sizes (even out of the same batch) and will not fit together as well. Your work will not be as smooth as with the higher quality seed beads. If you fall in love with the art of bead embroidery or just want to work with the best, you will want to upgrade your bead collection with the Japanese Rocailles, Czech Rocailles and Delica seed beads.
If you find picking up seed beads frustrating or an eye strain, consider a seed bead spinner especially when working on larger areas. These handy bead loaders come in manual spin or battery operated. Otherwise, working off contrasting colored felt is a good way to facilitate loading the beads and ensure they don't roll away.
To support your work, which will obviously be heavier than regular thread embroidery, consider using backing after the piece is complete. Leather, felt or Ultrasuede are good choices. Simply cut the backing to the size/shape of your work and use fabric glue to attach it to the back side for both support and to hide the back stitches.
The Palestrina stitch is a lovely double knotted stitch, that comes to us from its namesake city east of Rome, Italy. Palestrina is named after the 16th Century Renaissance Composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
It is also known as the Double Knot, Old English Knot, Smyrna stitch, Tied Coral stitch and the Twilling stitch.
Know that when you use this stitch you are stepping back into time and tradition. Legend attributes this charming and cultured city to the mythical Greek King of Ithaca and hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey.
The Palestrina can be used to form running lines, curved designs, border and fillers. It is formed by stitching rows of joined knots to create an impressive 3-dimensional design. It is frequently used in quilting as it works well on thicker fabrics.
Starting out, you may want to make horizontal lines on the fabric as is shown in the video below. It is important to keep the width even or the knots will look sloppy; the lines will help you with this.
Watch the videos and follow these directions to perfect your Palestrina stitch.
- The knots are usually formed working on the fabric from top to bottom but if you are more comfortable, stitch left to right.
- Come up from the backside of your fabric at the point that will form the right side of your knots.
- Re-enter your fabric just below the entry point and take a weave stitch across to the point that will form the left side of your knots. A small bar will be created.
- Return to the right side of the bar and slide your needle under the bar, forming the first looped knot.
- Holding your working thread to the left, go under the bar, again from right to left, to form the second looped knot. Your needle should come out over the working thread - not under it.
- Start the next knot by taking another right to left weave stitch, which will form a second bar. Be sure that your working thread is to the top of your knot as it weaves under the fabric.
- Repeat creating your bar and two loops and continue working your knots as your design requires.
- Don't overly tighten the bars or the loops or you will lose the 3-D effect.
- Do try to tighten the bars and loops in a consistent manner.
- Work the bars close together for a dense design or further apart for a trailing effect.
- The Palestrina stitch works well with yarn and ribbon for even more 3-D texture.
The Montenegrin stitch comes to us from Montenegro, a Southeastern European nugget rich is history, royalty and romance. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania.
This counted cross stitch deserves your time to learn and enjoy as you let it transport you back to the country's 9th century beginnings
Similar to the long armed cross stitch, the Montenegrin stitch can initially seem confusing and a bit messy in construction. Hang in there as the end result is truly a work of art. By design, it is meant to cover space quickly and fully so use it to form borders or as filler.
You will find several variations to forming the Montenegrin design. The following is a common and simple one that is easy to learn.
- Use an even weave fabric such as Aida or mark your fabric so you have even corners to form your squares.
- You will work two squares to create one Montenegrin stitch design. Square one on the left and square two on the right.
- For the next Montenegrin set, square two will serve as your square one and the square to its right will be square two and so one.
- Work your stitches from left to right only.
- Take stitch #1 by coming up from the back side of your fabric at the lower left corner of square one.
- Diagonally cross your fabric all the way to the upper right corner of square two in taking stitch #2.
- Take stitch #3 by coming up at the lower left corner of the square two.
- Stitch #4 is done by going diagonally back to square one and re-entering the fabric in the upper left corner.
- Take stitch #5 by re-entering your fabric in the lower right corner of square one.
- Finally stitch #6 is a straight stitch to the upper right corner of square one.
- Start the next set by coming up at stitch #3.
Can't get enough cross stitching? Better Homes and Gardens 2001 cross stitch designs has instructional charts and full-color photos of simple and fun projects from book markers to dragons to baby bids that are well organized for easy use.
Great for beginners and those that want smaller projects. If you want just one cross stitch book in your collections, this is probably your best buy.
The Barb stitch is a popular stitch used in Portuguese embroidery. It looks complicated but just incorporates the simple Buttonhole stitch sewn back to back and then weaves a contrasting thread through the center loops.
It can be used when wide borders are called for and to interlock patterns together. Or it can be used just to create interesting designs in free form creations.
Worked long or short, wide or narrow, straight or curved, this stitch can add an interesting dimensional effect to any piece so use your artist license liberally.
Take a look at the Buttonhole stitch video and come back to follow along with thread and needle in hand.
- Stitch a row of Buttonhole stitches the desired length for your design.
- Turn your fabric and stitch another row so that you have one (double) center line and two opposing directional short stitches; one on each side of the center line.
- Keep your short stitches across from each other evenly spaced.
- Once the two buttonhole stitch rows are complete, begin your weave or whip stitching.
- Using a blunt tapestry needle with contrasting thread, weave your needle through the center buttonhole loops. This is your "barb."
- Experiment with different types and textures of thread in similar or quite contrasting colors for this weaving step. You can also use ribbon or beading.
- Try making your short stitches in your buttonhole rows of different lengths but keep a mirror image on the opposing side.