Tips I Learned While Stitching Our Latest Beadwork Beading Kits
I recently stitched a couple of Beadwork projects and wanted to share some things I learned. You might already know some of these beading tips. But I hope you’ll find a nugget of bead weaving wisdom here. I certainly wish I’d known these little tidbits of beading info before I got started!
The October/November 2017 Beadwork kit is Regina Payne’s gorgeous Royal Countess Cuff. With this kit, you also get the materials to make Cristie Prince’s Reign Drops Earrings in a lovely gold and purple colorway to match the bracelet. The materials for these projects include 24k gold-plated beads and sparkling Swarovski crystals. You won’t find a richer looking beaded jewelry set!
Here’s what I learned while stitching the Reign Drops Earrings and Royal Countess Cuff.
Use the correct needle and thread.
I started with the Reign Drops Earrings, because they were less intimidating. But I was so excited to get beading that I didn’t pay any attention to the size of needle and thread listed in the pattern. I just grabbed my trusty size 10 needle and my 6 lb FireLine.
Well, I quickly discovered that you can’t go through a size 15 Charlotte bead with a size 10 needle! After several broken beads in the first couple of steps, I finally switched to the recommended size 12 needle. (I confess that I never did switch to 4 lb FireLine, mainly because I didn’t have any. I did still break a couple of Charlottes, but I was able to stitch another bead in without it showing. Shhh . . . don’t tell Cristie Prince I did that!)
I think my earrings turned out beautifully! Now if Princess Kate would only invite me to one of Princess Charlotte’s tea parties, so I I’d have somewhere to wear them . . . . (Kidding! I’m wearing these babies everywhere!)
Use a stop bead when necessary.
When I started stitching the Royal Countess Cuff (which uses a 2-needle method), I had trouble with the beads sliding around at the opposite end from where I was stitching. The pattern doesn’t call for a stop bead, but I quickly decided that I needed one. I grabbed one of the MiniDuos from the earring materials, and voila! Problem solved.
Start with more thread than you think you’ll need.
Although I don’t like working with huge lengths of thread, I also hate having to add thread. I seem to always use more thread than the pattern indicates, so I started with an extra 18-24″ of thread to stitch the Royal Countess Cuff. However, for a starting length of 9′, another 1.5-2′ wasn’t enough extra for me. So of course I ran out of thread and had to add more.
Learn the best way to add thread.
Previously, the only way I knew to add thread was to tie off, work in the tail, and start a new piece by tying off the end and working in that tail. What a hassle! By the time I would accomplish all of that, I would forget where I was.
Then I discovered the best (and easiest!) way to add thread. Create a slipknot at the tail end of your new piece of thread. Add your working thread and tighten the slip knot (not too much). Work the knot down to hide it between 2 beads, then tighten the knot. Continue stitching with your new thread; work in the two tails later.
Using this method allows you to keep working. And you won’t lose your place, because you never leave it! Plus, you end up with only one knot, which is easily hidden.
For a great tutorial on this method of adding beading thread, see “Learn How to Add New Beading Thread with a Slipknot from Melanie Potter.” The linked video is especially helpful.
Use a magnifier if you need one.
Confession time: I’m no longer a spring chicken. I’ve been wearing reading glasses pretty much all day long for the past 3 years. So size 15 seed beads are hard for me to see — especially if they have a shiny or metallic finish.
I recently discovered a nifty little lighted desktop magnifier that has made beading a lot easier. Any time I can’t see the next bead to pass through, I just slide my work under the lens and suddenly it’s 3X larger. And brighter! I got my desktop magnifier on Amazon, but bead shops carry a variety of options too. (Of course, CraftOptics are the ultimate solution!)
Trust the process.
When I started stitching the Royal Countess Cuff, my beads looked like a mess for a while. But then the cylinder beads started to “click” into place, and suddenly I was in my beading Zen.
Likewise, my bracelet as a whole looked like a twisted, buckled disaster for several steps. (I flattened it as much as possible for all my photos.) But as I started adding the size 15s around the edge bicones, everything miraculously started flattening out.
What I discovered in beading this bracelet is sometimes you just have to trust the process. If you follow the pattern, you should end up with a pretty close replica of the designer’s piece. My mind doesn’t work spatially like a designer’s does, so sometimes I just have to suspend my doubts and force myself to keep stitching.
A final lesson learned: I love cylinder beads!
I hadn’t really worked with cylinder beads before, and I was surprised at how fun they are! My type A personality loved the little “click” I heard every time my beads locked into place for the Royal Countess Cuff. And I couldn’t stop running my fingers over the smooth finish of my first 7 starting rows of beads.
I already have another project on deck that uses cylinder beads. (Sorry, I can’t share it yet; it’s from our upcoming Quick + Easy Beadwork special issue, which goes on sale October 10.)
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine
Learn more about Regina in: Find Beading Inspiration from Prolific Bead Weaving Artist Regina Payne
Find the Royal Countess Cuff in October/November 2017 Beadwork and Reign Drops Earrings in Bead Royale: Elegance in Beadweaving.