BCQuilter's Weblog

Lesson One – Adventures in Beading

Posted on: 29 January 2009

I have finished my first lesson for the online course “To Bead or Not To Bead”, that I am taking at Quilt University.   During the four week course, we will be learning several beading techniques, and making a beading sampler.  We have the option of using a design created by the instructor, designing one ourselves, or using a grid format to display what we are learning.  I have opted to go with the grid format.  I don’t need another beading project, and to be honest, I wouldn’t know where I would hang the beading sampler.  I thought that having the sampler in a grid format, would be a good reference.

What do you need to start beading?

  • An idea or inspiration! – How do you know if your quilted project needs beading?   One of the easiest methods, I know… is to sprinkle some beads on it (of course it is best to have your quilt on a flat surface *grin*).    You can place some of the beads with your fingers to get different effects – even checking colours!
  • A quilt project – do consider how the item will be used.  Will it be washed?  Will it be exposed to sunlight?  (I’ll discuss this a little further on).
  • Some beads – oh my… the world of beads is phenomenal.  There are several online resources for beading… granted they are primarily for beading jewellery and such… but you can still use them for quilting.  It’s tough, pawing through the pages of the internet, looking at all those gorgeous beads… money for fabric, or money for beads?   I wonder if I’ll ever find a balance.
  • Thread – oh my… there is such a wide range of views and opinions on what is the best thread for beading on quilts.  For my beading experiment as well as my bargello, I used a Hand-quilting 100% cotton thread, that I ran through beeswax.   Didn’t know of anything else, as someone in the guild showed me this method.   Some threads do not hold up to bugle beads (they are not finished like the seed beads, so their ends are quite sharp – typically they are beaded with seed beads to protect the thread from abrasion).  Some threads tangle more.  Some threads are to thick and will not go through a bead more than once (this could be important for securing beads, as well as for some fancy work).   It is sometimes difficult to find the thread recommended in a class or a book.   I suppose if what I had used before, does not hold up, I’ll have some rebeading to do!  Use what you have, and if you thoroughly enjoy the beading, try others, and see what you like.
  • Needles – again, this comes to personal preference.   Some like the long beading needles (although they are quite thin, and do bend easily), some like to use applique needles.  What ever you use, be sure they will go through the bead.  Just because it goes through your first 20 beads, doesn’t necessarily mean it will go through all of them.  (I found that out).  Instead of putting the bead aside, I grabbed a thinner needle, threaded it, strung the bead on, changed needles and continued on.  Use what you have, and if you really like beading, experiment with others.
  • Containers – you will need somewhere to store your beads.  Personal preference here.  I think the easiest is keeping the beads in the containers they come in, but you could use small recloseable bags, sewing kit boxes, tic-tac containers (you can buy similar looking containers), etc.


Now you are ready to bead!

Some things to take into consideration.  And I didn’t know this prior to my course (see… I learned a few things even in the first lesson!).  Not all beads are colourfast.  *gasp*.  Yes, its true.  Some will lose colour when washed.  It is recommended to put a pinch into a little dish of soapy water, swish them, and leave them.  Take them out and place them on white (waste) fabric (I suppose white paper would work too).  Has the water changed colour?  Has the fabric or paper have little colour deposits?  These beads will not be appropriate for any project that will be washed.  The colour from the beads, WILL transfer to your fabric.

Another test, is sunlight test.  Place a pinch of the beads in a window or area, that gets direct sunlight for a few days.   Using white fabric, compare the test beads to the originals.  Is their colour loss or change?   Do not use these beads if your beading project will be touched by sunlight.

Now for my class project.  Our first lesson included “Scatter beads”; Bugle and Seed Beeds; and Curves.  I really like the curves… you can make it look like a piece of ribbon floating.


I am looking forward to Friday evening, when the next lesson is posted.  I am now using an “invisible” monofilament thread for the course.  We do not have any source for beading supplies (except the discount/dollar stores and Wal-Mart), so I am making do with what I have.  I could order online.  There are only a couple of places in Canada, and shipping would be pricey, unless I’m ordering $100 or more (not quite ready to jump there yet), or I could order from the US and pay more shipping as well as custom.   My next trip out of town, I’ll be checking a few places and see if I can find supplies through them.  If not… then I’ll bite the bullet and order online… hmmm… I wonder how much $100 worth of beads is?


6 Responses to "Lesson One – Adventures in Beading"

Sounds like beading is right up your alley! I’m so glad you’re enjoying your class, and are sure you’ll get something out of it each week.

I do like that curved beading, it looks wonderful.


Wow Alice, there’s quite a bit to learn before you get started. I didn’t realise beads could bleed or fade. The variety of beads is mindblowing but I’m sure you will enjoy this crafting journey. I’m excited about what will come of your adventure.

Keep us posted.

Cheers…Ann 🙂

Very cool Alice! I like embelishing with beads. Lucky you, I would love to take a course on the proper way to do it but don’t have any time. As for the doll house, I still need to get one. LOL! I have all my neat little doll house items sitting on a hat box right now. LOL! Talk to you later. 🙂

Hi Alice,
I have those bead books to leave with you for your viewing pleasure and will put them in the car.
The live traffic feed feature is so neat and since i complained that people better leave a message so I know where they come from – well the 2 powell river visits were moi!

Hi Alice,

I was going through the Quilting Gallery ‘guest blogger’ month posts and came across Bonnie McCaffery’s vidcasts. She has one about beading with Larkin Van Horn I though you might be interested in.

Check out the guest blogger on Feb 15 – I think you may know her 😉

Thanks for the link! What wonderful workmanship!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 100 other followers


January 2009
« Nov   Feb »
%d bloggers like this: