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Bead Embroidery

Learn to do beading

This article on hand embroidery was written and designed by Little Miss Fancy Frocks, the dynamic mother and daughter duo who lovingly create handcrafted clothing for adults and children. Visit their Facebook page here.

The article is sponsored by Minerva Crafts, suppliers of all your embroidery requirements.

Examples of beadwork

Beads have been used to decorate cloth for thousands of years.

Metal, glass, acrylic, plastic and precious stones are just a few of the materials used to make beads and they are available in a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes. They can be sewn onto fabric with a variety of threads to create something to wear for that extra special occasion, or as an accessory for you or your home.

During this tutorial we will demonstrate how to attach beads and sequins to fabric which you can use to create a lovely motif or add sparkle to your wardrobe.


You will need…

Supplies for beadwork

Main fabric for samples (approximately 50cm of light/medium weight fabric), alternatively you can use  oddments you may have at home

30cm of light/medium-weight, non fusible interfacing

Small pieces (10cm x 10cm) of medium-weight fusible interfacing are required if you intend to work the owl, butterflies or dragonfly

A selection of beads – bugle beads, seed beads, sequins, pearls, gems

You will also require an embroidery hoop, a transfer pen,  a sewing needle with an eye large enough for the thread and to thread the beads through and a pair of scissors

Note: We have used general sewing thread (double) for the samples. A new thread can start and finish with a double backstitch (one stitch on top of another stitch)




How to attach sequins

Bring your thread onto the surface of the fabric through the centre of the sequin and take it back through the fabric at the outer edge of the sequin. Repeat this process four times to secure the sequin and stabilise it. If you are working with a large decorative sequin such as a flower head, let the petals guide you. The flower sequin we used has five petals, so five stitches will create a more pleasing look. An alternative method incorporates a bead. Bring your thread onto the surface of the fabric through the sequin and the bead, take your thread back through the centre of the sequin to the underside of the fabric. Sequins can be used to create a border pattern, a circular pattern or used to fill in small areas.


Seed Beads and Larger Beads 

Handling seed beads

Bring your thread onto the surface of the fabric, through the seed bead and back through to the underside of the fabric. Your stitch should not be longer than the width of the seed bead. Seed beads can be used to fill narrow floral and geometric shapes very effectively. Seed beads can also be couched to create a flowing line. Bring your thread onto the surface and thread lots of beads onto the thread and take your needle back to the underside of the fabric. Ensure the tension is firm, not loose or tight. Bring your needle back onto the surface and catch stitch in between every two or three beads to the fabric.

Larger beads can be stitched in place in the same manner. Larger gems normally have two holes and they are stitched top and bottom to ensure they lie flat on the fabric.


Bugle Beads 

Sewing bugle beads

Bugle beads are also available in a twisted variety and reflect the light more effectively than the plain version adding a different dimension to the overall effect. Bring your thread onto the surface, thread it through the bugle bead and to the underside of the fabric. Your stitch should not be longer than the bugle bead allowing it to sit flat on the surface. Bugle beads can also be couched in the same way as the seed beads. Interesting patterns can be created with single, double or multiple lines of bugle beads – a basket weave effect can be created by placing the beads in different directions, and a zig zag effect can incorporate beads.



Beading for embroidery

Pearls are used to create a soft effect and can be combined affectively with all types of beads. They can be used individually or couched to produce flowing or geometric patterns.

 Sequins, pearls and beads were used to enhance the necklines of the dresses and belt.

How to adorn a garment with beads

Working a motif

Draw motifs for beadwork

We used simple templates and transferred the designs onto fabric.

Iron medium-weight fusible interfacing onto the reverse of the fabric which will make  the fabric firm enough to stitch the beads and sequins in place without using an embroidery hoop.  

Allow your creativity to run wild and use sequins and beads in a pattern of your choice to complete one of the motifs.

Show me bead embroidery

When you have completed your motif cut around the edge very carefully and you can use your motif to accessorise clothes or decor.

Samples of beading