Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How to... Beading

Last blog post I discussed the French Knot vs Beading debate.  It seems from the comments on Facebook, Instagram and here on the blog that there are a lot of other people who would rather bead than french knot.  As promised in the previous post, I am now going to share some of my tips for using beads in cross stitch.

The Needles

A standard cross stitch needle (size 24) is too large to bead with as the beads will not pass over the eye of the needle.  Instead, I tend to use either a beading needle or a smaller cross stitch needle - size 28 or smaller.

The beading needle is a long, thin, flexible needle which makes it very useful for passing through the beads and I'm yet to find a bead too small to fit it.  However, because it is so flexible, I find it too flimsy to stitch with.  This is why I tend to use a size 28 cross stitch needle.  The eye is small enough to fit most seed beads, and is sturdy enough for backstitch so I can combine the two to save time.

The Thread

As much as possible I match the colour of the thread to the colour of the bead.  Usually, I already have the colour of thread because I'm replacing the French knots in the pattern.  Where I can I use beads already in my stash because a) that way I'm not spending more money and b) my supply shops in town are limited (ie non existant) so I have to wait for the mail!  One easy way to match would be to take your threads with you when shopping or use this conversion chart I found while searching the net.

The Frame

I tend to place my frame on upside down when beading.  This means that any stray beads will be caught by the sides of the frame rather than slide off into the carpet or hidden depths of the chair.

Storing the Beads

Storing the beads while stitching is often the most tricky.  You can either leave them in their usual container and hope you don't send it flying, or you can place a few beads either onto a flat surface, into your upside down frame, or on the lid of an empty container.  Anything that is relatively flat so you can access the beads, but has sides to keep them from rolling away.

Starting off

If I am backstitching while beading, I will complete a few back stitches before adding the beads.  However, if I am just adding beads I will weave the thread through some already-finished stitches to anchor it in place.

Adding the Bead

Most often, beads (or French knots) are positioned in the corner of another stitch.  Push your needle up through the corner, add the bead, and then thread it back down through the same hole.  I like to try and keep my beads standing upright, although they have a habit of laying flat when I iron and frame the finished pattern.

Occasionally, the French knot in the pattern will take the place of a whole stitch.  I have mostly only come across this on printed cross stitch designs.  In this instance, I would come up from the bottom left corner and down through the top right corner as if completing the bottom half of a cross.

In actual fact, beading is really simple and straight forward - providing you don't send your container of beads flying!  Have fun and let me know how you get on.

Happy Stitching (and beading!)

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