Free Project: Fabric Beads Make Fun Embellishments!

From Jennifer: I love making my own beads out of just about anything. Earlier this summer, I started making fabric flowers that I turned into focal beads, and of course, embellished to within an inch of their lives with other beads. Cate Prato, our wonderfully creative online editor over at Cloth Paper Scissors recently posted this awesome free project for making your own quilted fabric beads. Embellish them with seed beads and use them for all kinds of great craft projects!

How many uses can you come up with for these fun quilted fabric beads?

At a conference last year where bloggers of all artistic persuasions gathered, I was amazed to see the knitters, crocheters, and beaders all whip out their supplies as the presentation began.

While I have observed people knit and crochet in "public"-and have even done it myself-I was fascinated by the beaders.

Not only were they able to keep the beads from spilling all over the place, they had them all lined up in a perfect pattern. And half the time, they weren't even looking at what they were doing!

Granted, these artists had some tools for keeping everything in place, like a beading mat to prevent rolling. But still. I don't have that kind of dexterity, not to mention organization skills.

I do like to sew beads on things and I like to make beads or turn found objects into beads. So I was happy to find this little bead-on-bead project by Alma Stoller. It not only allows me to bead in a mixed-media way (and even throw in some collage), but the supplies are limited enough that I can take the project with me while traveling or, perhaps, to a meeting without everything getting all over the place.

Beaded Fabric Beads

Stitch each side of the fabric bead cube.
Fabric cube pattern

1. Lay fabric strips on top of a piece of craft felt big enough for the size of beads you want to make and machine stitch over the top fabrics to join the layers and pieces. (Or, to make it even easier, just fuse or stitch one piece of fabric to the felt.)

2. Cut out a cross shape from the fabric (like a box with its sides and top opened flat) and stitch the sides together until you have formed the bottom part of the box. Then stuff with a bit of fiberfill.

3. Whipstitch the top down to complete the cube and embellish your fabric bead with tiny buttons, small found objects, words printed on fabric. Add embroidery stitches, bits of lace, sequins, or crystals. You could even use Mod Podge® or Diamond Glaze® to collage words and images onto you beads.

To make this project travel-worthy, I would cut all my fabric cube shapes out first. Then, I'd take a fabric cutout and the embellishments you want to use for that bead and put them in a zipper bag or other small, sealable container along with a couple of hand embroidery needles and beading thread or embroidery floss.

Alone, these beads would make a cute ornament, bauble for a ring, or closure for a handmade book or book cover. Or, string them together as a necklace or a garland. I know you'll think of something creative.

Alma demonstrates her process for making these beads on the latest edition of the fun and interactive eMag, Quilting Arts In Stitches Vol. 5, available for Mac or PC.

For more great mixed media art and crafting projects, head on over to Cloth Paper Scissors and find more great ideas for altered books, art to wear, mixed media and felting!

Bead Happy,

Cate and Jennifer

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