Five Tips for Better Beading
Miss Crayola Creepy 9:39 AMBeading was a popular way of embellishing clothing in the 1920s. When The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge first started I knew that beading was a topic I wanted to cover, but didn't know the first thing about. I immediately thought of Lizz and the beautiful tank top she made a few months ago. When she agreed to do a guest post on my blog I was beyond excited! Thanks for sharing with us, Lizz!
Five Tips for Better Beading
Hi! I'm Lizz and I blog over at A Good Wardrobe [agoodwardrobe.com]. I'm so happy to be here today to talk with you about beading. Last fall I was able to take an internship at a couture bridal atelier where I learned how to bead garments. It was such a great experience and I've been beading in my own work ever since. Since beading was extensively used in women's clothing during the 1920's, Erin asked me to come by and talk about the craft. Here are my five tips for better beading.1. Find Your NeedleThe type of needle you use will vary depending on the fabrics, beads, and threads that you choose for your project. My favorite types are size 9 straw needles and size 13 beading needles. The beading needles are very fine, long needles with small eyes. The needles will flex easily and over time curve to your fingers. I reach for these when I'm beading delicate fabrics like lace. If I'm working with a thick thread that won't fit into the eye of my beading needles, I love a straw needle! The eye of a straw needle is punched into the shank making a consistent diameter throughout the body so you'll never feel resistance from the eye when pulling the needle through the fabric. The size 9 is still small enough to flow through a twelve-aught seed bead. As with anything, your personal preference may differ and I encourage you to buy several sizes and types of needles to experiment.
2. Cut Your Thread ShortThe length of your thread will affect your tension dramatically! When you first begin beading fabric, it's easier to get the feel for correct tension when your thread is cut to a shorter length. Also, working with shorter lengths will help to prevent tangling and no one wants to place a bunch of beads only to have their thread tangle up on them! I like to cut my thread no longer than the length of my arm span for a double threaded needle.3. Always Wax Your ThreadEach time your pull your thread through fabric it breaks down causing the thread to fray. Waxing your thread helps strengthen it against this constant abuse. You can find beeswax at any haberdashery. To wax your thread, pass the thread through the beeswax. Press the thread with a hot iron using a press cloth to protect the iron's faceplate. If you're like me and don't bead near your iron, you might be interested in a product called Thread Heaven [www.threadheaven.com]. You treat your thread with it just like beeswax but it doesn't require the added step of ironing to seal in the product.4. Watch Your Float LengthsThe length of thread between two beads is called a "float". Tension can be tricky with longer floats and the thread can snag on jewelry or other objects once the garment is finished. I try to keep my floats no longer than a half an inch. If two beads must be placed further than a 1/2" and you don't want to tie off and start a new thread, take a small, invisible stitch on the inside of the garment between the two beads to prevent the unwanted long float.
5. Secure OftenBeading is time consuming and you want to make sure that the garment you make can hold up to wear and tear. However, beads can catch and break off, threads can snag and break, and knots can work their way free. To protect my work, I always secure my thread with a double knot every three beads or so. That way, if the thread fails, I'll only loose a few beads and I can easily go back and replace them.If you've beaded a piece of clothing before, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. If you've been curious about beading, I encourage you to give it a try! Although beading takes time, I find the slow and steady process to be very satisfying. I hope that you'll enjoy it as much as I do and that these tips will help you along the way.