Friday, December 02, 2005

Thread Control and Bead Control

Been spending lots of time on my beading project. Actually it is pearls and coral bits on velvet. Some of the designs are on felt, either single layer or padded. Either way, when you are placing beads down into a design, if placement is an issue, you want them to stay. Well at least the control freak in me wants them to stay put.

Over the years I've taken lots of classes that talked about using the "cross stitch" to hold beads in place or other methods. I heard lots of horror stories about working on velvet. I've heard lots of theories about working with different threads or needles. After hearing all this I have been putting off this particular project for some time time and was approaching it with lots of trepidation.

In short, I'm finding that the real key is tension. I placed the muslin on the frame. I sewed the velvet to the muslin. Then I outlined the sewing lines for the sleeve and collar pieces in a bright colored thread. Next was placing the felt bits on the areas that needed to be built up. Then came the beading. I am using the thread doubled at all times for the main work. For the larger beads I am using a linen thread so the hole is relatively full. For the smaller beads and pearls I am using silk.

If the beads need to be done in a smooth row, they are first threaded on a strand. Then they are attached with a back stitch and couching. I sometimes go through 2 or 3 pearls then pick up the last pearl for the next 3. Periodically I will do a couching stitch to keep the "strand" in place. If the pearls or beads need to be done in a more random formation, I approach it like you would chipwork. By keeping the threads coming from different angles, I can keep a good tension going to hold the beads down. If I need to do a more "fan" formation, I may do one side, then the opposite side, then return to the original side - and so on. This allows me to have tension and place the beads closely without having the thread cut through. Using these techniques the beads are staying in place and it doesn't matter whether I am working on the velvet, single felt or padded felt.

The beading is done on the collar and about half done on the sleeve. Next come the spangles. Probably about 1000 of them. Haven't counted the coral or pearls, but there will be easily a couple thousand by the time I'm through. I'm doing some shading with the coral. Don't know if it is period, but the result is fantastic if I do say so myself. Yes I'll post pictures, but not until I'm done.

Just had to share! Now back to the beading.

PS Now I need to go buy some more movies. Of course watching 3 different versions of Pride and Prejudice back to back was interesting. And Emma. And Sense and Sensibility. And...

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