Embroidery with beads is a beautiful and rewarding craft that allows you to create intricate and stunning designs. However, if you are new to this craft, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. After choosing the right embroidery pattern, beads and preparing your tools, the next important step is to learn the embroidery stitches that you will use to bring your design to life.
There are three main techniques for embroidering with beads: linear, free-form and circular. Each of them has its own set of stitches that are suitable for different types of patterns. In this article, we will guide you through the most popular stitches used in bead embroidery that are easy to make and perfect for everyone, whether you are an experienced embroiderer or a beginner. With this knowledge, you will be well on your way to creating beautiful and unique bead embroidery projects.
Linear embroidery technique
Linear technique is a popular bead embroidery method often used for patterns marked with straight rows of circular cells. Each cell on the pattern represents a small bead of a certain color. To execute this technique, beginners often turn to the “Monastic” or Vertical stitches as they are simple and easy to work with. So let’s dive deeper into the linear technique and explore how to create stunning beadwork using these basic stitches.
“Monastic” stitch (half-cross stitch)
The “Monastic” stitch, also known as the half-cross stitch, is probably the most important and most used stitch in bead embroidery. With this stitch, you will get diagonal stitches with the beads on the front side of the fabric, and vertical stitches on the back side. Here’s a step-by-step guide for this technique:
- Start by threading your needle with a suitable length of thread and and secure it with a knot or a couple of back stitches on the back side of the fabric.
- My personal preference is starting embroidering in vertical rows on the short side of the pattern. To embroider your first row locate the top left cell of the shorter edge of your pattern and bring your needle up from the back of the fabric at the top left point of the cell.
- Add one bead of the color corresponding to the cell marked on the pattern and make a diagonal stitch inserting your needle into the bottom right corner of the first cell. With the same stitch bring your needle back up in the bottom left corner of the first cell which now will be the top left corner of the second cell moving down the vertical row.
- Add the second bead and repeat the same stitch diagonally by inserting your needle into the bottom right corner of the second cell and bringing it up in the bottom left corner.
- Repeat this process until you have completed the whole vertical row of beads using the same thread and only changing the colors of the beads according to the printed pattern. As a result you will get a beautiful row of beads sewn diagonally in the same direction. To make the embroidery more secure, the first and last bead of each row is being sewn twice.
- After completing the first row, you can move on to the second row by turning the pattern upside down. This will allow you to continue embroidering towards yourself, beginning from the top row as we did before, and the process is carried out in the same order as the first row. To move to the beginning of the second row finish your last stitch of the first row by passing the needle with the thread from the back of the fabric to the front with a horisontal stitch to the left.
- If there is a need to move the beginning of the row up or down, the needle is being pierced diagonally to the top left corner of the first cell of the second row. Repeat Steps 3-5 to complete the second row. When you get close to the end of your thread secure the last bead by passing the thread through it for the second time, make a couple of small back stitches at the back of the fabric always under the beads previously sewn so it is not visible at the front and cut off any excess thread.
It is important to adjust the thread in the embroidery process to avoid the flaccidity of the beads. When reaching the part of the pattern that does not require embroidery and has a distance of 3 cells or more, do not pass the thread through the back of the fabric as this can cause sagging and affect the quality and appearance of the finished embroidery. Instead, embroider on one side of the pattern, fix and cut the thread and start embroidering from securing the thread on the other side of the gap.
The vertical stitch is used to create straight horizontal rows of beads. This technique is often used in partial bead embroidery patterns where individual horizontal rows are not connected to each other. In this technique, the stitches at the back of the fabric result to be vertical instead of horizontal, and the direction of the embroidery is horizontally to the right instead of embroidering vertical rows towards yourself.
Although all this might sound confusing follow our step-by-step guide on how to execute the vertical stitch and you will see how easy it actually is:
- Start by locating the top left cell of the shorter edge of your pattern. Bring your needle up from the back of the fabric at the top left point of the cell. Add a bead and make a diagonal stitch inserting your needle into the bottom right corner of the first cell. With the same stitch, bring your needle up to the top right corner of the first cell which now will be the top left corner of the second cell moving to the right horizontally.
- Thread another bead and make exactly the same diagonal stitch by inserting the needle into the lower right corner of the second cell. On the back side of the pattern, pass the thread to the top right corner of the second cell and repeat these steps until you reach the end of the row.
- Once you have reached the end of the row, turn your pattern upside down and finish your last stitch by passing your thread to the next individual row to continue embroidering horisontally to the right from the top left point of the first cell of the row. Repeat the same steps as in step 1 and step 2 until you finish the row.
Free-form embroidery technique
Free-form embroidery, also known as free-style embroidery, is a popular style that allows the artist to create unique and expressive pieces of embroidery either without the use of a specific pattern or working on printed patterns marked with curved rows of oval cells. Read on to explore the three most popular free-form embroidery techniques: back stitch, stem stitch, and loop stitch.
Back stitch is one of the most basic embroidery stitches, but it can also be one of the most versatile. Typically used to produce a three-dimensional effect by adding singular beads randomly placed on the pattern. It is also a perfect stitch if you need to create a continuous curved lines of beads, making it perfect for creating outlines or filling in small areas.
To make a back stitch, follow these steps:
- To start, it is important to fix your thread at the back side of the pattern making sure it is not visible at the front. You can do this by making a knot or a couple of tiny stitches on the same spot.
- Once your thread is secured, bring your needle up through the fabric between the first and second cells of the row.
- String one bead and perform a “back stitch” by inserting the needle back into the fabric at the start of the row before the first cell.
- Bringing the needle back up between the second and third cells and add another bead.
- Continue to stitch in this manner until you reach the end of the row, making sure each stitch carries only one bead at a time.
Don’t forget to keep the tension of the thread consistent throughout the stitching process to ensure that the beads sit evenly and tightly against the fabric.
Stem stitch, also known as double-stitch, is a highly durable stitch used in bead embroidery. The secret behind its strength is that each bead is being sewn twice, creating a secure hold.
- Start as always by securing your thread at the back side of the fabric. Next, bring the needle up at the beginning of the row, add one bead, and make a forward stitch by inserting the needle in front of the bead between the first and second cells of the row.
- After adding the first bead, make a back stitch at the back of the fabric by bringing the needle up before the bead. Pass the thread through the same bead once again and then thread a new bead. This completes the first double stitch, which is the key to the strength of this stitch.
- To continue, insert the needle in front of the last bead added, between the second and third cells of the pattern. Make a back stitch at the back of the fabric by bringing the needle up between the first and second beads. Pass the thread through the second bead and repeat these steps with all the following beads until you reach the end of the row.
By sewing each bead twice, the stem stitch creates a secure and durable hold, making it ideal for bead embroidery projects that require longevity. This stitch also adds depth and texture to your embroidery, creating a beautiful and professional finish.
Loop stitch is a versatile technique used in bead embroidery to achieve a more subtle and gentle effect on the overall design. Unlike some of the other stitches, Loop stitch is all about creating soft, smooth lines in your embroidery work. This technique is similar to stem stitch, as both use a combination of forward and back stitches, but it differs in the way that it handles the beads. In Loop stitch, you thread 2 or more beads at the same time, and then only sew one of those beads to the fabric. Here are the steps to carry out this stitch:
1. Start by securing the thread on the back side of the fabric and bringing the needle to the front at the beginning of the row. Thread between two to four beads, depending on what is necessary for your pattern.
2. Lay the beads in one line on the fabric and pierce the needle right after the last bead attached. Make a small back stitch on the back side of the fabric and bring the needle back up to the front between the last and second-to-last beads.
3. Pass the thread through the last bead once again and add an extra two to four beads. Out of all these beads, only the last one will be sewn to the fabric. Continue this process until the end of the row.
4. If you need to make the stitch more firm, instead of going back one bead, you can also go back two and pass through them once again.
It’s important to note that Loop stitch is best used when you want a softer, more subtle effect in your bead embroidery. This technique is ideal for creating curving or swirling lines, or even for filling in areas with a more organic shape. However, if you need a stronger stitch, then Loop stitch might not be the best choice for your project. In these cases, it’s best to opt for a stronger technique like stem stitch or back stitch.
Circular embroidery technique
Circular embroidery is a unique and exciting type of beadwork that has gained popularity in recent years. The embroidery is created in a spiral, with the diameter gradually increasing as the pattern progresses. This creates a beautiful and intricate effect that is sure to capture attention.
One of the key factors that made circular embroidery possible was the production of high-quality disigns of patterns printed on the fabric. This provided a clear and easy-to-follow guide for the beading process.
Back stitch, stem stitch and loop embroidery stitches are particularly well-suited for circular embroidery. All these stitches can be used to create smooth, consistent lines that flow seamlessly around the spiral.
However, as the spiral expands this is where the loom stitch with two or more beads becomes particularly useful. Loom stitch is especially effective when transitioning from the spiral to semi-flexed rows around the middle circle. By providing stability and strength to the bent rows, this stitch helps to create a neat and professional finish.
Overall, circular embroidery is a fun and creative way to experiment with beadwork. With the right materials and techniques, it is possible to create stunning and unique designs that are sure to impress.
In conclusion, mastering the main techniques of bead embroidery is a great achievement for beginners. With the knowledge of linear, free-form and circular embroidery techniques, and the different stitches we have learned today, you can now apply these skills to create beautiful and complex beadwork designs. Of course, if you have any questions or doubts, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we will do our best to help you. Don’t forget that you can find a variety of bead embroidery kits in our online store, “BeadEmbroideryArt“, with different themes, sizes, and price ranges to suit all tastes. Our kits include everything you need to start embroidering straight away so you don’t need to worry about purchasing any additionnal supplies and can start practicing the stitches learned. We hope that this article has inspired you and wish you every success in your future bead embroidery projects!