Friday, February 18, 2011

Bead Embroidery: Foundation Preparation

I forgot to mention in my previous post that what I share here are my own techniques and experiences. Back in college, I lived at my paternal aunt with a dress shop & boutique in Manila. Me, my sister, and my cousins - who were also college students then - were in-charge on all the beadworks on wedding gowns, TV show costumes, evening & formal gowns, etc. We had the chance to do our own thing - design wise!
In this post, I'll show you how I prepare my beading foundation in rounds & square shapes as seen in the photo below...
FABRICS & STABILIZERS - I love stitching over patterned fabrics as I use the design on it as my guide - refer to my on-going March BJP block. If you're using ultrasuede and/or lacy's stiff stuff, you don't have to use fabrics really. In my case though, I often use stabilizer then cover it with fabric.
My on-going March 2011 BJP block
TOOLS OF THE TRADE - Measuring tools like footrule or tape measure comes handy when preparing your foundation. Also, I always have an assortment of needles, pins, scissors and pens (either ink pen or fabric pen) nearby.
THREADS - All purpose thread is great for foundation preparation. But of course, nymo and nylon (either quilting thread or fishing line) threads would work well too.
SHAPE TEMPLATES - You don't need expensive templates to draw or determine a shape, specially if you just want a circle. You can definitely find a lot of stuffs with round shapes in your home, i.e. a drinking glass for bigger rounds. Don't throw away those bottle caps, they're perfect for button-style pieces or pendants. Want a lil fancier shape? How about those cookie cutters in your kitchen? I love using them as I can get a great assortment of shapes at a fraction of a cost.
Again, please take note that this is my own technique as I always use stabilizer on my works.
I think the photos on both shapes are self-explanatory. The other tip I'd like to add is to always make at least 2 of the same fabric to make sure you have a matching set, so that the backing coordinates - unless you want to use ultrasuede. Making the round shape is similar to making a yo-yo, the only different is you have to insert a stabilizer inside. As for the square shape, it is like framing a miniature piece, while making sure the corners are mitered properly.
The backs should look like the photo below. A half inch allowance on all sides or from the edge of the stabilizer works great. Most of the time, my cuffs have rounded ends... in this case, I make a half yo-yo to get the rounded shape on fabric.
Since these are fast and easy to do, I always make a lot in one sitting - usually while watching TV - in all shapes & sizes I want... rounds, squares, odd shapes, cuff sizes, etc. You'll definitely save a lot of time by doing this. Ready made foundations comes handy when my embroidery muse is gone - they get me inspired!

I'm sure you'll find a lot of different ways online at how others do their thing... if you're just starting, find your niche - soon you'll have a technique of your own.:)

Next Topic: Basic Stitches


  1. Thanks for these helpful ideas.

    Do you not use glue then?

  2. I seldom use glue Roberta... only when my cabochon or button is too big, then I dab a lil glue to put it in place before encrusting it.:)

  3. How interesting! I'm always beading on my quilted layers (batt, top and backing)..sometimes I do bead directly on Friendly Felt but I like learning new tips and techniques from professionals! Thanks!

  4. Thanks for dropping by Robbie! I've heard a lot use stiff felt but I never tried it yet. For some reason, I always forget to get some whenever I go at HL or JoAnns. Walmart in town has craft felt only - too lumpy IMHO!


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