Grizel's Machine Washable Beadwork - A Quick
First, this is really easy, don't be decieved
by all my gobbledygook, 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, your'
hooked. It progresses faster than regular embroidery.
I have been meaning to get the class section up for some time,
I am slowly caving in to the pressure.
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 almost 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 beds will flip around to the backside if you aren't careful.
I recommend you do pieces Oxford, light ca nvas, 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.
What you do is: You do a lazy back stitch to attach the beads:
say... four down, go under up and back through two lay four...
and forming anything from straight lines to complex tight
curves in this manner.
* Once you get more adept you can raise the
number, this is merely the step to get the beads where you
want them. You can alternate the numbers as the shapes allow.
NEXT: You pass through the rows again laid once
or twice to add more thread the inside, this smoothes curves
and gives more to couch with.
NEXT: Couch two lines together, in much the
same way you laid them down. Over two beads, under back up
between the two you just stitched, and go over that row and
the one next to it, continue until done.
NOTE: For fighters and things like medallions
and heavy wear items I stitch this way over every crack. But
one things your want a softer feel, you should do the outside
three or four rows of sections and pieces in this manner (To
make the edges sturdier) and then alternate a bit on the inside
being sure not to skip over more than say every third bead.
This will make the piece more flexible and supple.
I made up this drawing to try to help you visualize
the technique, not too bad for 5 minutes work.
The only real problems
Always use a hoop and
keep the material as tight a possible. (Bouncing quarters
Always work from the
center of your design to the outside, doing the other
ways could cause your piece to "bowl" or pucker. Fill
in areas the same way.
Don't pull the string
until you turn blue, most of the time and firm tug to
pass the crack of the beads is usually enough. This is
something you learn in time. Pulling too much will make
your piece bow upwards, convex... with practice you'll
learn, and you're piece will flatten. Practice make perfect,
you ought to see my first pieces.
* TIPS: (or stuff I learned the hard way)
Use good beads. Buying
Czech beads will help immensely, the cost is actually
the same as the cheapo Taiwan beads available in crafts
stores. Czechs are more uniform, the cheapos are odd in
size and shape and sometimes color within the same bag.
8 or 10 grams of cheapos are like 99 cents at your craft
store. 40 gr., or there abouts, of czechs are like $2.99.
Never use ink to draw
designs, use pencil, always, use colored pencil even,
NEVER USE INK, it will bleed and make you curse the heavens.
Always follow your
drawn lines. If you bead line falls a bit shirt fine,
but don't over shoot it, it will widen after the couching
is done, and you may find you even need to remove beads
from one end that is now too long and wants to draw up
Always make sure lines
of beads lie flat to begin with, no bowing of the lines,
this will make your job easier from the start.
Use either beading
floss or the premium sewing threads that are 100% long
grain polyester, usually the more expensive ones. Not
much more expensive, but they are worth it. Regular thread
like Coats and Clark will fray on you sometimes in as
little as three passes. I can work a good thread the very
end god willing.
Use thread to either
match the beads or the material. Matching the beads will
result in a more solid look, matching the fabric will
give you a more mosaic look.
Always keep needle
nose pliers handy, they are your best friend. Stick a
straight pin into the bead to be exterminated (believe
me you'll know when) and grasp the top of the bead wit
the pliers , cover the area with your hand, a cloth or
something - coz' glass will fly and this is sharp TINY
glass- and squeeze. (say a prayer, it was an innocent
little thing) This will keep you from the sharp glass
cutting the thread and making all this foe naught.
To wash pieces before
(to remove pencil lines) or after attaching to garments
I suggest a fabric wash sack . For small items merely
tossing them in a sock and tying the top will work to
protect the machine as well as the beads. For garb I say
spend a few bucks (or use scrap material) and make a muslin
or T-shirt drawstring bag, just shove the it in and knot
it, throw it in and wash it. This is to mainly make, sure
the beads don't grind on the metal sides of the washer.
That's it really. My handy tips and
warnings were longer than the actual instructions, if they
didn't make sense let me know!
Lady Elspeth Grizel
Of Dunfort, OW, APFx2
MKA: Jen Funk Segrest
3217 Keays Ave, MIddletown, OH 45044
h:513-424-9202 or c:513-290-4749
My bead homepage: http://www.verybigdesign.com/beads
My personal Homepage : http://www.verybigdesign.com
and another page at :
Copyright 2000 Jen Funk Segrest
(Elspeth Grizel of Dunfort) http://www.medievalbeads.com