A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Hello.  I’m a new member of the fire blog.  (Yes, the third Beth, and thus Beth #3.)

I don’t have any finished embellished work to show you, but I wanted to share some thoughts and some of the playing around I am doing.  Maybe it will give you some jumping off ideas.

I really enjoyed Quilter Beth’s series of detailed tutorials this month.  As a jewelry crafter, and bead hoarder, my initial thoughts were along the lines of: piece of cake, and I’ve got this one nailed.  Pride goeth... well, you know.  I did blithely stitch beads onto a fabric project that was underway (above).  I went to bed happy, looked at it the next day.  Ugh!  And ripped every bead off.  My first lesson learned--you can’t just DO this.  It has to be called for.  It has to enhance without overpowering.  It has to be the perfect touch.  A little goes a long way.  

So I am very happy to have the bead embellishment techniques to add to my bag of tricks.  And sometime it will be just what is called for.  One of my main hang-ups was a quality of texture.  Adding touches to cloth with embroidery thread feels very intuitive to me.  Glass or stone beads added to a fabric piece are hard on soft.  They reflect light very differently.  On some project that is going to be just the touch needed.  Where I was trying to add beads was not that place.

Below is the piece I tried to add the beads to.  What I loved about this piece was the movement of the lines.  Somehow that got lost with the distraction of the beads.  I’m trying French knots instead (as seen below.)  I’m still not sure about it, but at least it is moving along the lines again.

I’ve also been doing some stitching on pieces of denim from old discarded jeans and playing with a round form, moon-like.  Below, I used the circle in a negative space and added white matte seed beads.  I thought this had potential as an effective way to use beads.

Below is a close-up section of the piece I was doing as I was exploring extreme texture.  I sort of couched (or attached) a length of scrunched up, hand-dyed, twill tape with French knots (also, some other couching appears beneath that.) 

More couching

Below are two beaded brooches I made a long time ago.  The centerpieces are buttons.  A string of beads has been couched around each button.  Once the string of beads has been couched in place, you can go back through the strand of beads with your needle and beading thread several more times to secure it.  From there more beads can be added that are not stitched to the ground cloth.  The brooches were stitched onto ultra-suede, but a similar technique could be used on fabric.

Below is an idea I was trying of adding stitches to a commercially patterned fabric.  (Couching, running stitch and fly stitch.) 

I also wanted to share some couching stitch I did on a learning sampler.  I love how this looks and can definitely see using something like this somewhere.  Here the couched thread is a glossy rayon yarn held in place by yellow embroidery floss.

I love seeing how others have used these techniques successfully.  And when that perfect project presents itself--I do have a bead or two to add to it!


  1. Beth, they are really nice experiments. I like how you try out things and think it over if this element is really needed there, if this really suits. I like your wave lines but I think, the dots are too much an entity themselves, so they still slow down the soft flow of the waves. maybe a running stich would look more continuous ... I also like the fragile beauty of your beaded moon form and the rugged, bold stitches on the surface of the "extreme textures". They do have a unifying effect for the surface. Your experiments on a commercially patterned fabric are also interesting and they do make the pattern much more lively - great examples!

  2. OH - THE MOON!! I love the moon. I also like the extreme texture piece you did. I like everything (not the buttons so much) and the little couched piece at the end was a wonderfully sweet "line"

  3. Beth #3, I love the moon too! And of course the experiments you did in extreme texture. And you have now inspired me to try some hand stitching on a piece that has been in the UFO pile for quite awhile, that needs 'something' to turn it into more than just a piece of hand dyed fabric! I agree that it does take some thought to decide what embellishments to use and where. Bravo to you on removing the beads once you decided they weren't working. It's all about try and see... thanks for sharing your experiments!

  4. embelling is tricky isn't it?! You want to do it to enhance the piece but often it just starts detracting! Its a good idea to do these experiments - love the texture and the moon circle especially!

  5. So much beautiful art! Oh definitely some "jumping off" bits here. Am thinking about a couple of them for my current works in progress. Thanks for sharing even your trials and "errors" (I prefer to call them "learning experiences" though).

  6. great post. very thought provoking.

  7. These are lovely. I'd love to see step-by-steps on the beaded, button-broaches

  8. Thanks for all your comments. You may see more blue jean moons from me. There are about four so far in varying stages. I love stitching through the denim.

    That idea was born from a blog post I saw somewhere sometime, a while ago--sorry can't remember. You spill salt on black paper to form patterns. I masked an area with a paper circle, drizzled the salt, and carefully lifted the circle off. It looked very much like I ended up with my bead placements.

  9. OK...I'm madly beading away on a piece I have to have ready for a photo shoot on Monday... One thing I've discovered as a total newbie to this beading thing...I need a lot more work on the technique of actually picking up the beads!! My technique is just a TAD slow. Any hints? I'd be eternally grateful!!

  10. I like your couching samples with their contrasting couching stitches. Using a different color thread adds its own design element.

    I would have to agree with Beata, though, about the "dots" stopping the flow of the line on your blue/white piece.

    My favorite example is the "moon." I especially like the soft flow of the beads surrounding the "moon" shape on your denim. It gives a heavy material a light feel--very nice. Thanks for sharing your work.


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