Yesterday I showed you the Silk Radiance fabric I'm going to use for my March challenge with Lynn. Well, I told Lynn, I'm pretty sure that faric is going to require some sort of bling...perhaps beads. And Lynn does a lot of cool beading on her quilts. So, I asked her for some advice, and I asked her if she'd be willing to do a guest post on my blog about beading on quilts. She was kind enough to agree and then blew the doors off it by doing a two-part post! She is here today to tell you about beading on quilts. Come back tomorrow for Part Two, where she demonstrates some actual strategies for attaching beads on quilts. Thank you so much, Lynn, for all the great information! I am indebted to you! I hope you--all my blogging friends--find the information Lynn provided as helpful as I did! Visit her blog sometime and surf around. Check out her quilts that she's beaded and buttoned. I love her hand stitching on her projects, too. I value my blogging friends so much and for many reasons, not the least of which is how much they teach me. Thank you again, Lynn!
Hello everyone! Lynn here, aka Alamosa Quilter. Recently Stephanie asked me if I would do a beading tutorial for her. She wants to put some beads on a project. She suggested that as long as I’m doing a tutorial for her, maybe I should do a guest post for her. And here I am! We’ll start with some of the questions Stephanie sent me.
Stephanie: I want to do some beading on my quilt, but I’ve never beaded on a quilt before. I know you have some experience doing it, so here’s what I’m wondering:
Do you put the beads on before or after you quilt? I am thinking after, so that’s what the rest of my questions will assume.
Answer: You can do either. If you are not going to quilt the beaded area then you can bead before quilting. You may even want to just layer the front and batting, then bead. Once you are done beading, add the backing and quilt as desired. This will hide your beading stitches. Otherwise, just layer and quilt as normal and bead after you have quilted. You will want to hide your beading knots between the layers in this case.
Stephanie: What type of thread and needle do you use? I have used beading needles, which often are necessary to fit in the holes of the beads. But are they strong enough to get through the fabric?
Answer: I recommend beading thread. This is typically a nylon thread. The reason is that some of the beads can be sharp and may cut regular cotton. You can use any needle that will fit through the hole of your beads. I usually use a quilting needle, a between size 10 or 11. I have never used a beading needle. Some people use the very fine appliqué needles, called straw needles. These are longer than is comfortable for me though.
The thread I use comes on these little bobbins. It isn’t expensive – about $1.50 per bobbin. It comes in a few different colors. I have white, black and gray. In general, I match the thread to the fabric I am beading on. For black fabric I’d use black thread. However, for clear beads I’d probably stick with white.
Stephanie: What types of beads do you like to use best? How do you decide where to put the beads?
Answer: Mostly I use glass seed beads and bugle beads. They come in a variety of sizes. I seem to prefer the look of the smaller ones for some reason, not sure why. Put them where you want some extra sparkle or any where you want to accentuate. The beads are just another surface design feature.
You can sprinkle beads sparsely across the surface to accentuate certain areas, like in the photo above. Or you can group them for major impact, like in the photo below.
For these beaded flowers I used the design on the fabric below.
I carefully cut out the design I wanted and fused it to my background fabric then beaded over the design. It was my first major beading project and took a while to complete, but I love it.
<Comment from Stephanie: I love this strategy of "borrowing" a motif from a fabric and beading on it! How cool!>
I keep my beads and beading threads in this old loaf pan.
I buy beads when I see them without worrying how I will use them.
Stephanie: Do you have any tips or secrets to offer? Have I forgotten to ask something that you think is important for this?
Answer: I recommend a good beading book for inspiration and fancy stitching instructions. I have “Beading on Fabric: Encyclopedia of Bead Stitch Techniques” by Larkin Jean Van Horn.
There are other good books too. This is just the one I own. It has a spiral binding so it lays flat when open which is really nice. The book contains lots of good information about types of beads, some basics on how to bead, and such. Here is the table of contents.
The other thing to keep in mind is that beading is not a fast technique. I love the effect beads can give a quilt, but it can take a lot of time if you use a lot of beads. I am “process oriented” not “project oriented” so finishing quickly is not usually something I consider for an art quilt. “It takes as long as it takes” is my philosophy with art quilts.
I do not recommend putting beads on a bed quilt and definitely not on any quilt that will be used by a child.
In part two I will show you a few beading techniques and stitches along with tons of photos for each step.