There are several different types of embellishments you can add to any stitched piece. Beads can enhance a design and bring some of the tiny details to life. Buttons offer a quick fun way to spruce up a design. Even glitter can be added to make a piece sparkle.
This series will focus on little things you can do to embellish your pieces including how to buy, how to add, how to wash, and how to frame. First up beads.
Beads can be added to provide intricate detail such as flowers on a Victorian dress or substituted to give your finished piece that extra flare. If you really want, a cross-stitched could be totally done in beads. Although, some of the colors may not transfer well.
The current producer of beads for needlework is Mill Hill and man on man do they have a great selection. They have glass, frosted, seed, bugle, treasures, and probably a few more that I am not aware of. Each bead is distinctive for color and clarity. They can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $3.50 but are definitely worth price.
You add beads after you have finished stitching your piece, including back-stitching. There are some stitchers who back-stitch and bead as they work, I do not recommend this method if you are a beginner or an intermediate stitcher. You only need one strand of thread to add beads; unless, instructed otherwise on your pattern. Most beads like the glass, frosted, and seed can be added in two ways.
First, you can do a full cross stitch going through the hole of the bed for each leg. This method will leave the bead sitting straight up and down. Second, you can use just a half cross or one leg passing through the hole. This method will give the bead a sitting diagonally. Personally, I prefer the second method especially when the project has a lot of beads that will be sitting next to each other.
You can wash a project that has beads depending on the fabric. Just remember to use a mild unscented dish soap or laundry detergent. When ironing, use a towel over your project to help prevent beads from melting or breaking from the heat.