Customize Clothes And Accessories With Beading



In the last edition of the Review we had an article on beading and focused on jewelry.

Beads can also be used to customize your clothes and other accessories.


Beads and other embellishments either purchased outright, or assembled from dismantled jewelry, can be used to customize ready-made clothing and accessories with just a little planning, the right needle and thread.

You can find beads at Wal-Mart and Michael's, on the Internet at e-Bay and other auction sites and through Web sites for bead stores. There are bead museums to visit. Or just find some costume jewelry you like, take it apart and use the pieces on your clothes and accessories.

The most important part of attaching beads to clothes is to have a needle that will easily go through the hole in the bead and thread that matches the piece of clothing as closely as possible.

Play with the beads and garment first to see what works best and then start sewing. A loose stitch is probably the best way to begin. This will let you see if the bead is too heavy, changing the line of the garment.

If the beads are the right weight, take out the loose stitches and work with tighter, final stitching.

Fabric glue is another way to attach the beads to the clothing. But doing the trial run with the basting-type stitches would be the best way to start.

Getting Started with Seed Beads

by Emily Hackbarth for

Besides being one of the most fulfilling and flexible crafts around, beads and beading is also one of the easiest crafts to get started with. The supplies are inexpensive and portable and you can get satisfying results at any skill level.

The most commonly used beading thread is called Nymo and can be found in pretty much any bead store. It is available in a wide range of colors and thicknesses and is suitable for most any beading project. There are several other brands of thread that can also be used such as Silamide, Conso upholstery thread, Synbond, and even silk. The reason why regular sewing thread is not used is because it snaps easily and tends to discolor quickly.

Beading needles are different from other kind of needles in that special care is taken to keep the eye of the needle as close as possible to the same width as the rest of the needle.

The only thing stopping a beginner from completing a project is not their skill level, but their confidence level. In order to build your confidence level, start out with a simple project.

Embellished Jean Jacket Pocket


Reprinted with permission from "Beaded Embellishment: Techniques & Designs for Embroidering on Cloth" by Amy Clarke Moore and Robin Atkins (Interweave Press, copyright 2002).



  • Seed beads, size 11 º and 8 º
    * Teardrop beads, size 8 º
    * Embroidery floss
  • Jean Jacket


  • Scissors
  • Size 10 beading needle

This is a quick and easy project. Dress up your favorite jean jacket, or any garment for that matter. In fact, you could embellish every item in your closet with fringe and other simple bead embroidery stitches. Just one garment and an hour a day, and in a short amount of time (relatively speaking, of course) you could have a completely bead-embellished wardrobe!

Knot your thread and come up through the back of the pocket flap and out the flap along the edge.

String 2 size 8º seed beads and between 5 and 8 size 11º seed beads and one teardrop. Skip the teardrop and pass back through the beads and into the fabric. Knot off. Knot your thread and come out a bead's width from your first fringe. String 1 size 8º seed bead and between 4 and 7 size 11º seed beads, skip the last one, and pass back through the beads and into the fabric. Knot off and repeat across the pocket flap.

Vary the number of beads you string each time to add variation. Use a palette of similar colors of beads and mix them randomly to add visual interest. From a distance, the colors will blend together, but up close they will have extra depth.

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