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Create Custom Adornments with Basic Hand-beading Skills

Hand-sew sparkling bijoux for appliqué or accessories
Threads #199, Oct./Nov. 2018
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Use basic stitching skills to create dimensional, textured pieces for jewelry or garment adornment.

Custom-made adornments for garments, bags, hair ornaments, or jewelry are delightfully easy to create. Basic hand-beading skills and a simple backing method produce beautiful pieces you can attach to ready-to-wear clothing or your own designs. If you prefer to wear them as jewelry, add earring hooks or backs, or chains, ties, or strings of beads to make necklaces.
My design approach is no-fuss, and the jewel motifs evolve as I work. Each piece begins with a focal bead or stone, and then I add smaller beads and sequins around the center bead. Choose a pleasing assortment of bead colors, then let the design develop as you sew. The technique is creative and relaxing, and you can redesign as you go, as long as you knot the beading thread securely between rows or sections.

Whether you’re making an appliqué for a beloved garment or just exercising your spirit of invention, you’ll enjoy the process of growing your hand-beading skills and the lovely results.

Easy-to-find supplies

Most of the items used for these beaded jewels are easily available at craft or sewing stores, or online.

BEADS
For a focal bead, opt for a flat style; spherical beads larger than about 6 mm in diameter are difficult to work with.
For the ground beads, choose size 11/0 seed beads, which are about 1.8 mm to 2.0 mm in diameter. You’ll use these beads the most, so be sure to have a good supply. An 8-gram package is usually plenty; choose as many colors as you would like to use. Iridescent beads and subtle variations of a single hue add rich dimension to the finished piece.

BACKING MATERIAL Thin, stiff craft felt is easiest to work with, and it makes a somewhat flexible finished piece. I like to use black or white, depending on whether…

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