I absolutely love bead embroidery. It is like making a magnificent painting but using beads instead of paint! I usually create my pieces with an abstract design or random pattern, but there are times I want the symmetry of a design to be the most noticeable element. I’ve found two simple ways that really help ensure a piece will turn out perfectly symmetrical.
If you happen to have a simple picture or paint program on your computer you can use it create a general template for your bead embroidery piece. The first step is to create a very simplistic grid. Draw two straight lines that intersect in the center. This will form a “x-y axis” to plot your design.
Draw in a shape that will be a place holder for your focal bead. For example, if you plan on using a Swarovski Crystal Fancy Stone, draw a shape to represent its position. You can then draw in other elements to the right and left of this focal bead.
Once you have a few elements plotted on your template, print it out and transfer the markings to your Lacy’s Stiff Stuff beading foundation. Glue your Swarovski Crystal Fancy Stones into position with E6000 adhesive. Once your main pieces are locked into place you can then begin beading.
The second method is quick, easy and won’t require any computer expertise. On your beading foundation use a ruler to draw your x-y axis. Use a pencil so the marks will be concealed underneath the beads once they are stitched down. Place your focal on the intersection of the lines and then trace the shape of the crystal. I recommend flipping the Swarovski Crystal Fancy stone over onto its front side so it is easier to trace. Once the position of your focal bead is finalized place your other stones on the foundation. Move the crystals around until you find a location that looks best. You can then trace the crystal at this point. If you want to be really precise, remove the stones and measure the distance from the center of the tracing for your focal bead.
Create a new line on either side of your focal crystal using this measurement. This will ensure a nice symmetry. Once your planning is complete and you feel happy about the design glue your pieces into place. Once the glue is set you can begin the fun part – beading! One last tip. I find it works really well to sew down a few seed bead rows on one side then go to the opposite side to repeat the motif. It is easier to switch stitching on the left and right side as you progress rather than trying to recreate an entire finished design. You can use two sets of needles and thread for the left and right side so switching off is hassle free. For more tips please visit our Bead Embroidery Techniques page.
Making a memory wire bracelet is one of my favorite beading activities. I love how I can combine leftover beads from past projects together to make an eclectic, bohemian bracelet. There is literally no restrictions or rules when making a memory wire bracelet. It is a very versatile, fun and forgiving beading project. The only question most beaders have is, what size wire coil will fit my wrist best? Today I’ll discuss choosing the right size coil for your project.
Round memory wire is our most popular shape for bracelets. We offer four different size coils so everyone can find a size that will fit well and look great! Below is a little chart that shows the round bracelet memory wire we carry and the recommended wrist size for each.
Our in-house designers prefer to use the 2.25-inch diameter for most of our memory wire Inspiration Projects. This size creates a bracelet with an 8-inch diameter so it will fit many different wrist sizes. For those that have small wrists, a 2-inch or 1.75-inch diameter may work better. Our Inspiration Project Coral Crush Bracelet uses a 1.75 coil and, as you can see from the pictures below, the bracelet is quite compact.One more important tip for sizing; If you plan to use large beads, the inner diameter of your finished bracelet will be smaller. In this circumstance, I recommended using a wire one size larger than usual to ensure the bracelet will fit comfortably on you.
If you need help making a memory wire bracelet, be sure to check out our detailed Finishing Memory Wire tutorial for step-by-step instructions!
Wrapped cord bracelets continue to be an enduringly popular beading technique. The most common question we hear is what stringing material is best for a wrap cord bracelet? Today we are going to compare three commonly used threads and discuss how their unique characteristics function in a wrapped cord bracelet.
FireLine is one of the most popular stringing materials for bead weaving. Made from gel-spun polyethylene, this braided thread is extremely strong and abrasion resistant. It is the perfect choice when using crystals, gemstone or seed beads that have sharp edges. In our Teal Tourmaline Bracelet the design uses bugle seed beads, which are known to shred nylon threads. FireLine, however, works beautifully with this type of sharp bead and provides plenty of reinforcement to the weave. Another beading thread to consider is Silamide. Made of 2-ply, twisted nylon, Silamide thread is pre-waxed, which helps a beader to maintain a nice tension while weaving. It also comes in a nice array of colors. In our Feeling Beachy Bracelet, the Silamide is used to provide even tension in the 2-hole Tila seed beads and to give a wonderful splash of aqua to the color palette.Superlon is another very popular beading thread for wrapped cord bracelets. This nylon thread is fray resistant and has very little stretch to help maintain consistent tension. Superlon has an impressive color selection so it is a great choice for adding vibrancy to your design. As seen in our Cadmium Orange Bracelet, the Superlon’s bright color creates a striking contrast to the orange and gold, making the overall design pop!
For a whimsical touch try a tassel in your next jewelry project! Tassels can be made from many different materials such as thread, chain or leather, which makes them a fun and versatile addition to any design. Tassels are incredibly easy to make. You can either use your fingers to quickly make one or you can use the handy Tassel Maker tool. We have two excellent tutorials to help you with both techniques.
When making a tassel with thread you can use Pearl Cotton, Nymo Nylon Thread or Superlon Beading Thread. Both the Superlon and the Nymo threads will provide a smooth texture to your tassel. The small diameters of the threads create a fine, silky and sleek tassel with no extra fluffiness. You can see a great example of this type of tassel in our Inspiration piece Tassel Time Earrings If you want a fluffy, soft and textured tassel, go for the Pearl Cotton #8. Pearl Cotton has 2-plys twisted together so it has a pleasing spiral design on the thread, adding an intricate visual texture to your tassel. Since Pearl Cotton thread is thicker than both Nymo and Superlon, the finished tassel will have much more volume and body. You can see a great example of this type of tassel in our Inspiration piece Tree Trio BraceletIf you can’t get enough of tassels check out some of our previous blog posts for more wonderful information and tips!
With so many similar products out in the bead world it’s sometimes hard to know which product will best suite your needs. Today we are going to discuss beading wire from two popular brands; Soft Flex and Beadalon. The charts below will make it a little easier to select the right beading wire for your project.
There are three important factors to consider when selecting your wire.
Wire diameter: Select a wire that is the right diameter to fit through your beads. Beads with small holes, such as freshwater pearls or small gemstone beads, will only accommodate a small diameter wire.
Strength: Wires with 19 strands or 49 strands are much stronger than wires with less. More strands make it possible for a wire to carry medium to heavy weight beads without breaking.
Flexibility: A necklace using a flexible wire will have a pleasing curvature and drape to it. Flexible wires are less likely to kink or become damaged while in storage. Soft Flex is highly regarded for its superb flexibility.
I love making multi-strand bracelets, but sometimes I get a little restless using the same style clasp to complete my design. Luckily, TierraCast® has a brilliant line of findings that allow us beaders to switch it up a bit. The TeirraCast Slotted D Ring and Multi-Hole D Ring clasps provide a simple yet elegant way to finish a woven bracelet.
Many beaders are unsure what type of finding is best to finish a flat peyote or loom woven bracelet. The Slotted D Ring is a great option for these weaves.
Let’s take a closer look at how it is used. Simply wrap the end of the beadwork through and over the elongated slot opening. Then weave the bracelet end to the underside of the bracelet to secure. We have wonderful step-by-step instructions in our Loom Clasp- Option 2 tutorial that will guide you through the entire process. You can see a great example of this clasp used in our Inspiration Project the Candy Cane Boulevard bracelet.
Let’s now take a closer look at another version of the D Ring. A Multi-Hole D Ring is specifically made for 3 or 5 stand bracelets, however, it too can be used for woven pieces, too. This clasp is particularly handy when wrapping up a flat square stitch piece. Square stitch creates parallel seed bead columns that happen to perfectly line up with the holes in the Multi-Hole D Ring. Simply weave the working thread from each bead column to a corresponding hole in the D ring to secure. Our Inspiration Project Eggplant Delight bracelet illustrates this finishing technique beautifully.
I think you will find these clever clasps from TeirraCast are just the ticket to accomplish a professional and polished finish to your bracelets.