Getting your materials and doing the first pass of beading goes fairly quick once you get the hang of it. Now for the slightly more tedious (but way more impressive) part of the process!
The Second Pass
So you’ve scattered your larger, more precious beads along the length of your trim, now it’s time to start filling in the remaining space.
Instead of stringing one bead at a time (boring, excessively tedious, and time-consuming), you’ll work with several beads on your needle at once. Pour your filler beads into a larger bowl or section of your bead board and mix them up. To string them onto your needle, just skim the needle through the puddle of beads until you get enough of them loaded. It may take a bit of practice, but it’s really a simple thing to do once you get the hang of it.
Push the beads down the thread to meet the foundation piece, and then figure out how far your string of beads will reach before stitching through at the other end.
Instead of tacking down another stitch, come up alongside the line of beads you just added, cross over and stitch down on the other side, hiding the thread between two of the beads in the string. This secures the long stretches of beads and keeps the work nice and tidy instead of loose and floppy. Bring the thread up in another spare space and repeat, crossing over the previous strings and going around the beads laid down in the first pass, filling up the space as you go. Leaving some smaller open spaces is okay, though, as the tiniest beads will wait to go into the third pass.
The Third Pass
Just like the second pass, but using the smallest of beads and usually fewer at a time.
If you run into larger gaps, feel free to grab some of the leftover beads from either of the two earlier passes–after this one you should have no parts of the foundation fabric visible through the beaded fabric laid on top of it.
Depending on how long you’re making your trim, these steps can take anywhere from several hours to several days. It’s great work for sitting in front of the television. I’ve spent many of our date nights at home catching up on the DVRd shows and stitching on strand after strand of beads. The first pass of beads for my cardigan took about 4-5 hours for the almost 3 feet it required. I’d say the second and third passes easily took 10-15 more, though I didn’t keep track. Like anything, once you get used to the mechanics of the process it goes much quicker and you’ll be surprised at just how much you can get done.
Putting It All Together
For edging your dress, a jacket, or other sturdy something, the best method is just to sew it right on. If you’re worried, as I was a bit, about a more flexible fabric not being able to stand up to the weight of the beading alone, using a second length of ribbon on the back side of the fabric will help shore everything up. It worked like a dream on my cardigan.
I already own my dress, it’s hanging out in our hall closet in a ginormous dress bag along with the crinoline I ordered to go with it. Because I bought it as-is, I knew it was going to need steaming and, possibly, cleaning before the wedding. Cleaning of garments like this, at least in the realm of price, depends heavily on level of decoration–the more beading and details, the more expensive it is to have it seen to. As it stands, though, my dress is very simple and streamlined and if I leave the trim off the price will undoubtedly be lower, but I also didn’t want to have to be adjusting my dress (and risking the wrinkles) so close to the wedding. Ergo, I needed a way to easily add and remove the trim I wanted to add to the neckline.
In order to do this, I’m going to use Hooks and Eyes Â just under the edge of the cuff that tops my dress, with the hooks attached to the top edge of the trim.
The small hooks & eyes are fine for the 5/8″ trim I’m making, but a sturdier piece of edging might be better attached by larger versions called skirt hooks.
Skirt hooks can also be used to attach a belt without requiring it to go all the way around your waist. I would arrange to have them hook along the top edge of the belt and then on each side where the belt ends.
Of course, there’s more than one way to make a belt.
To finish the belt, especially one that was stitched onto a wider fabric than the beading, first fold over any excess and stitch down. I’m opting to bridge the gap on the back side with a narrow strip of ribbon. This serves two purposes: (1) it conceals the messy stitching on the back should the belt get flipped around and (2) it creates a channel that another piece of ribbon or elastic can be fed through to be able to wear the belt. To secure it, just stitch the ends closed through the pass-through elastic or ribbon.
Right now I’m planning on the elastic approach, secured with heavy snaps in the back. I bought a dress over Christmas that had a similar treatment on its belt and it gave me plenty of ideas. I just don’t care for loose tails like most tie-on belts feature. There’s hook-and-eye tape (aka Velcro), too, but the sound of that tearing open is like nails on a chalkboard to me. You could use the same technique to make a sparkly headband with either ties or elastic joining the two ends.
Finally, if you’re wanting to use a bit of scumble trim on your veil or other airy materials, this is the one time I might actually suggest gluing over sewing–or at least in addition to! I’d also suggest you attach your trim a little ways in from the edge, sandwiching the tulle, etc. between two pieces of ribbon and then, once sewed and/or glued into place, trim the excess tulle flush to the edge of the trim.
I still have to attach the hooks, etc. but I dragged my dress out of the closet to get some in-progress picks and make sure my ideas were going to work as planned. I’d say it’s a case of sew far, sew good, wouldn’t you?