3 Tips for Working with Beads

I’ve been beading on fabric for years, but thanks to Lisa Yoder’s To Bead or Not To Bead class, I’ve just learned some new things that make my beading go more smoothly.

1) Use a beading pad. Lisa provided supplies for her class, and one of the items was a beading pad. It’s a rather fat and squishy fabric that is fuzzy on both sides. It keeps your beads from rolling around, making it much easier to pick them up with the needle. It’s ideal when you are adding one bead at a time.

bead-pad_web
My beading pad. It also doubles as a needle holder. I keep my pad in a recycled food tray for added safety.

An unexpected bonus: it makes it really easy to return your beads to their storage container as well. You just pick up the cloth and pour them in. It’s like using a paper funnel, only the beads roll more slowly so you have more control.

pouring-beads_web
Bead pads also make it easier to pour beads into their container.

2) Use a single strand when beading. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have had the habit of doubling up my thread and knotting it that way for years. My thought was that it was easy insurance — twice the thread per stitch — and it would keep my beads from falling off the quilt. What I didn’t realize is how hard it was making things for me. Using a single strand means keeping track of the loose end (which can be particularly tricky when there are lots of beads on your thread) but it also means it’s a snap to un-thread and fix any problems that come up. It reminds me of what I learned when I went to a standing desk: reduce the effort involved in doing something, and you increase the likelihood that you’ll do the right thing.

3) Use a bowl or jar of beads to string lots of beads at a time. This is something I remembered after class, when I was home and beading madly (inspired by Lisa’s class). You just stab the needle into the mass of beads and pick them up at random until you have as many as you need. It’s faster than picking them up one at a time.

beads-in-jar_web
Dip your needle repeatedly into the mass of beads to pick up a bunch at once.
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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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