There are many different techniques to sewing on beads.  I tend to use seed beads, but there are so many other types of beads that can be used – See my supplies list on beads.

Sewing each bead on individually is the most common.  However, using different techniques allows you to create different layouts.  Below are some examples of using beads in different ways.

When sewing on beads it is important that should one come loose, you don’t loose all your beads.  To avoid this, use strong thread – typically nymo thread and a fine needle that will fit through the hole of the bead usually a size 9 or 10.  If you don’t have nymo thread, thread your needle with a strong thread and double it with a knot at the end.

When I begin to sew with double thread, I stitch my needle through the fabric and back down to the underneath, where I pass my needle through the loop made by the knotted end.  I always make a small stitch either side of or underneath single beads and after every 4 or 5 beads, I make a small knot.  That way should the thread break – only 4 or 5 beads are lost.

Combing these two techniques can lead to some interesting effects…

Sewing longer strings of beads and couching them into place with anchoring stitches.

Another technique is to thread on some beads onto your thread.  Take your needle over the last bead you put on and back through the centre of the other beads before going back through the fabric – this leaves a small string of beads protruding out – like stamens on a flower.

Up until now we have only used seed beads,  There are many different types of beads that can be used.  See my supplies list on other types of beads.

There are some aspects of different beads that need to be noted these are with Bugle beads and Sequins.

So now that you have some ideas on how to sew on beads to your work.  Try various combinations of beads, colours and techniques.  Use contrasting thread to add another dimension to get the look you are after.  

There is one thing to note in regard to adding beads for bag making.   I like to add most of my beads once I have the majority of the panels stitched together as I would hate to run over a bead with my sewing machine as I attach various samples together. 

As I build out my website, i will be adding more techniques for embellishing.¬† However if you are interested in finding out more now…

check out this book from Amazon –¬†Embellishing with Anything: Fiber Art Techniques for Quilts–ATCs, Postcards, Wallhangings & More by Gladys Love

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6 Comments

  • Sophia

    I have been wanting to experiment and add some new designs on some plain old clutch bags I have. I like the star design with the clever little shoots behind it. Very cute. I  am just a little worried about if I throw it in the washing machine, would it come apart? I mean, even if I used the nymo thread? Where can I find nymo thread and some quality seed beads?

    • admin

      Hi Sophia.  Thank you for your comments.  As long as you knot your thread and make a few stitches before and after every 5-6 beads, and use the nymo or double strong thread, you should have no issues with it coming undone in the washing machine.  Your local spotlight, hobby lobby or craft shop will sell the items you need.  

      Best of luck and please let me know how you get on.

  • lynnsamuelson

    I’ve been interested in learning how to bead for a while but wasn’t sure how to get started. You make it sound fairly easy to learn so I think I’m going to give this a try. People, myself included, always enjoy receiving handmade gifts that show effort and thought was included. My only issue is that I don’t have a sewing machine. Is owning a sewing machine (and obviously being able to use it) critical for adding beads to a cloth bag?

    I hope not but if it is perhaps you could recommend another project involving beading. Thanks!

    Erica

    • Paula

      Hi Erica

      Thank you for your comments

      It would be awesome for you to give beading a go.  In my instructions I have only given you the basic techniques of sewing beads on fabric.  You can experiment with these techniques and take them to many levels.  Adding buttons and other embelllishments, with your beads gives it another element.  

      No you certainly don’t need a sewing machine.  A thin needle and either nymo thread or double a strong thread is all you need – and beads of course.  These supplies can all be purchased from your local hobby and craft shops.

      Paula

  • Madeleine

    Wow! You did a good job describing the process of beading. I used to have a friend that would make jewelry with beads and made a few pieces for me with magnets. I have been tempted to buy some beading kits and start a new hobby.  I recently bought some boots that have beading on them. Do you ever work with leather?

    • admin

      Thank you for your comments.  No I have not worked with leather yet.  But I did inherit my father-in-laws leather punch sets and some leather which I plan to use one day.  Will continue to work on my whatknots bags for now using recycled denim as it is easier to sew than leather as I would need an industrial sewing machine to get through the thicker medium.

      Paula

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