Tutorial: Machine Washable Beadwork

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A non-period method for a period-looking result and modern staying power.

First, this is really easy, whenever I teach folks they go “That’s it? That’s easy!”.

It really is simple, you won’t believe it. My students come back going! "WOW! everyone thinks I’m like a god now!" Really. Once you do it a few times, you’re hooked because it progresses faster than regular embroidery.

Yes, as far as my embroidery goes, everything is couched within an inch of it’s life. No escape, no surrender.

Period method was to string all the beads on at once and then one by one couch them in place with a second thread. It’s hard cumbersome and not durable, if a thread broke you could loose whole lines.

I have developed a method that is in looks Identical to period couching but is… gasp… machine washable and sturdy as a elephant and even can be worn in yes… battle.

* First USE good heavy cloth, broad cloth weight weave will pull apart and believe it or not, the weave will form holes and beads will flip around to the backside if you aren’t careful. I’ve done this, trust me, use cloth up to the task.

* I recommend you do pieces Oxford, light canvas, or even trigger type materials. They have a dense heavy weave. Basically if you can read a license plate through it it’s too light. If you are doing accent pieces for light garb recommend you appliqué it on, hey it’s period! And if the garment wears out, you simply remove it and apply to something else.

* If you want fabric showing around and IN your design but one that isn’t capable of handling it, or want added protection, BACK the material with trigger or somesuch. More is never a bad thing.

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