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 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.
The Casalguidi (cas-a-gwee'-dee) stitch is a traditional padded surface stitch popular in Portuguese embroidery. Of course, it is named after and comes to us from the beautiful town of Casalguidi located in Pistoria and the luscious Tuscany region of Italy.
In the early 1900s, the woman of Italy attempted to spark the local economy by opening embroidery schools. The most famous school was in Casalguidi where the legend of this stitch begins.
This fabulous padded three dimensional stitch is a rope design traditionally done on linen fabric. It is easy to do but looks quite impression when completed.
If you have been wanting to create a heavy textured design, do try this stitch. It is very useful for making wall hangings that pop right off the wall. It also makes bags and purses that are to die for.
- Use linen or similar weight fabric with an open weave.
- Traditionally, cord was used to form the padding but you can also use a grouping of yarn or string.
- Whatever you select for your padding, use the couching stitch to attach it to your fabric.
- Cover your couched padding with a neutral base color using the satin stitch.
- You will be weaving through the next layer of stitches so select your thread color and again cover the padding but this time at about 1/4" intervals thus making bars.
- Do not pull these stitches too tight to your padding as you will need the space for the weave.
- Take care to create smooth stitches especially where (or if) your padding is curved. This layer of foundation bars will support your weave so spend time making it neat.
- Switch to a tapestry needle for weaving that you do using the stem stitch along the foundation bars.
- Take your needle through the fabric only at each end of your padding. For the remainder of your stitches do not pierce the fabric; just work through the bars.
- Be sure not to pierce your foundation bar threads as you weave through.
- At the end of each row, push your stitches down and together with your tapestry needle so they are smooth and dense.
- You don't want to see any spaces at this point. If you pierced your bar threads, you will not be able to do this properly.
- Work in one direction only. Do not work back and forth along the padding.
- Once the padding is completely covered, take bullion knots at both ends of the padding to create a polished finish.
- You will create lovely snake skin like rows so experiment with multiple colors, variegated and metallic threads.
- Make your art unique by leaving your end threads long, bushy and uncovered instead of weaving end-to-end and then finishing with bullion knots.
- You can also suspend beads or tassels from the Casalguidi ends.
Does your inner artist need a nudge awake? Mixing crafts and materials is a great way to unleash your dormant genius and may open the door to a new interest.
Stitching on paper is probably something that you did in grade school and can be a fun project for the kids. But it's an excellent craft technique that you can use to make a variety of useful and keepsake items.
Sample Paper Embroidery Project List
Stitching on paper is often used in scrapbooking but there are dozens of everyday items in which to express yourself.
- Book dust covers
- Framed artwork
- Holiday decorations
- Jewelry and treasure boxes
- Memory and gift keepsakes
- Place, greeting and gift cards
- Place mats
- Photo albums
- Picture frames
- Table runners
||The Basics of embroidery on paper by Erica Fortgens has over 160 patterns of seasonal cards, wedding, baby, anniversary, abstract designs, flowers and more.
- Projects range from beginner up advanced.
- Comes with a pricking template.
- Easy to follow instructions with colored photos of finished designs.
Order Today and start Paper Embroidering!
Get Creative with Your Paper
This craft is a wonderful way to keep that special wrapping paper or child's art that you can't throw away. If your paper is thin or old, glue lightweight fabric to the backside for support.
- Handmade paper
- Mosaics from multiple papers
- Music sheets
- Newspaper and magazines with special dates
- Old books/children books
- Posters, fliers and brochures
- That special used wrapping paper
Make your own paper!
Order the Papermakers Companion
The best part is using your imagination to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Paper Embroidery Tips
- Use floss or yarn consistent with the weight of your paper.
- Add heavier cardstock to support heavier threads and embellishments.
- Lay out your basic design before you start stitching but don't be afraid to create as you go.
- A light tracer box can greatly assist sketch the design to your paper. Sketch lightly with a pencil as you will need to erase.
- You can sketch the design entirely or make dots about 1/8" apart.
- Once sketched, put your paper on a sheet of Styrofoam, foam rubber, an old computer mouse pad or something similar and with a sharp needle or punch pen, punch holes in the paper at 1/8" intervenes. Erase any remaining sketch lines.
- As with scrapbooking, paper embroidery is about themes. Pick a key element and build from it. For example, in making a child memory piece, you could use ribbon from an old outfit to stitch a rose.
- Use a sharp, newer needle and the smallest size possible for the width of your thread to minimize the holes in the paper.
- Use simple stitches to avoid making too many holes in the paper or adding too much weight.
- An eighth inch is normally sufficient space between stitches but is dependent upon the thread so use your own judgment to avoid ripping the paper.
- If you do rip the paper, no harm done. Just add a design element.
Paper Embroidery Stitches
Here are some stitches to get you started. Modify as necessary to leave the necessary space between stitches. Don't forget that you can glue threads or yard to the paper in addition to taking stitches. Remember to use metallic threads for extra sparkle.