Bead Embroidery Demystified with Free, Expert Advice

By Jennifer VanBenschoten

I’ve heard the technique of bead embroidery described as painting with beads, and indeed, a masterful bead artist can blend and stitch those tiny seed beads together into wonderful works of wearable art that resemble the finest paintings in any art gallery.

Bead embroidery designs are probably my favorite way to use up all those handmade ceramic and glass cabochons that I see and bead shows that I just can’t live without. Once you know some basic bead embroidery patterns and techniques, it’s easy to turn these little treasures into one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry like necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

4 “Secrets” for Successful Bead Embroidery

  1. Using a Color Wheel for Successful Bead Embroidery

    Understanding the relationship between colors is probably one of the most important skills you need to have to create successful works with this technique. Just like creating a work of art using paints or colored pens, the colors of your beads mix a little differently than they do in other types of beaded patterns using off-loom bead-weaving stitches.

  2. Choosing the Right Embroidery Thread for Bead Embroidery

    Beading thread is a very personal, and important, choice when working bead embroidery designs. Some beaders prefer a stiffer thread like Fireline, but using a softer nylon thread for the picot trim and beaded fringe can have its advantages, too. Keep in mind the type of beads that you’ll be using, and use the thread most appropriate to prevent cuts and lost beads.

  3. Choosing the Right Medium

    What you use for your base can mean the difference between having a piece of jewelry for six months or for 60 years. Once upon a time, we bead embroidery lovers were limited to things like just leather, suede, and even cardboard, but these days, there are lots of stiff felt products that come in a wide array of colors for you to pick from.

  4. Using the Best Needle Angle in Your Bead Embroidery Patterns

    Have you seen those amazingly gorgeous, straight-lined pieces of beaded embroidery and wondered how the artist got these tiny beads to line up so perfectly with each other? The answer is most likely the angle at which the needle was inserted into the fabric of beading medium! It takes a little bit of practice, but ensuring that you are inserting your needle straight up and down, and not at a side angle, can make a huge difference.

Bead Embroidery is Easier Than You Think

Join beading rock star Sherry Serafini and learn how to add texture, found objects, and more to your beading designs.

Ready to get back to your bead for some fabulous beaded embroidery designs?

Go ahead and share these secrets with your friends…we won’t tell!


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