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Hand-beading methods/ideas for wedding g

NansiM | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I was looking thru some of my back issues of Threads for articles on beading by hand and am coming up empty.  I know I’ve seen it, but where?  I’m hoping to do the bodice of a spaghetti-strapped, empire-waisted gown with a princess paneled fit and flare full skirt.  She wants the beading to “look like rain”.  so I’m thinking something like random, wiggly rows of bugle beads and maybe clear sequins and seed beads.  We do have plenty of time for this project and I do enjoy handwork.  Any thoughts and suggestions?  Thanks!


  1. ShannonG4d | | #1

    Yes.......I'm facing the same type of project.  DD's dress will have scattered crystal beads on the bodice, "wiggling" on to the skirt, as you described.

    I've been thinking about this one, because the beading will be the only ornament this dress will have (provided she doesn't change her mind again:)).  The basic form of the beading design will need to be marked on the fabric; I will use hand thread-tracing for that, in an ivory-colored thread so there will be a bit of contrast to the white fabric.  That will make it easier for me to see.  I want the beads to be more densely populated in the bodice area. 

    I have beading needles, but they are not quite strong enough to go through the fabric.  Instead, I'll use straw needles or something with a narrow, elongated eye.  I'll test the needle through a few beads to make certain it will fit through the holes. 

    I'm using a regular poly/cotton thread, doubled, but not waxed.  Wax might stain the white silk fabric.   A quick hint: if you press the thread with a hot iron after threading the needle, it will be less likely to kink and twist when hand-sewing.

    I'll stitch each bead individually in place, making a knot after every five or six beads for security.  The design being used doesn't lend itself to couching the beads in place; yours might.   In the areas where I'll only have one or two beads, I'll go through the bead twice with the thread before knotting it.

    I'm giving myself quite a bit of time to get this done; in the past, I had a custom bridal business, and know that the beading was the most time consuming part of the process.  DD will be helping, too.  For the design she has currently in mind, I'm budgeting a month to get the dress done. 


  2. carolfresia | | #2

    Nansi, Threads No. 74 (Dec 1997/Jan 1998) has a beaded, tulle shawl or scarf in the "Quick to Make" department that might give you some ideas. Now, I really can't vouch for the fact that this are actually quick to make, but it's not complicated and the effect is awfully pretty and sophisticated. If you don't have that issue you can order it (go to the Threads home page and click on "Buy back issues" in the right-hand column). The same article is reprinted in the book Quick to Make (along with a load of other great projects), and you can also find good information on beading in Connie Long's Embellish Chic.

    Sounds like two gorgeous wedding gowns are in the making! My mom sewed tiny, pink-lined seed beads on my wedding dress, and then when I had it cleaned the beads turned into sort of silver (still pretty, thankfully). If you're concerned about a similar occurence, pre-test the beads to be sure they can stand up to whatever treatment you anticipate in the future.


    1. NansiM | | #3

      Thanks for the info.  I have that issue as i save them all!  I think I've glanced at that book when I was in Fabric Place, so will have to give it a closer  look.  When I've looked at books on beading, it's usually focused on jewelry or other free-standing creations.  I wonder if many people actually do hand beadwork on clothing any more.  I like to have a photo to give me a "jumping off point"  when I do these projects.  I'm scanning the bridal mags. for ideas, too.  Need better closeups of the kinds of beads used. 

         I've also  heard  designers talk of using "bridal quality" beads and I have seen the difference in the pearls I've used.  What about bugle and glass beads?  I will need lots of them.  Any good sources.  I've been experimenting with what I find in the local craft shops and they LOOK good, but I do wonder about how they'll hold up as you mentioned .

      Thanks again!


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