The art of bead embroidery is similar in many ways to both on and off-loom beadwork. All you need is some thread and beads, and an idea. The only real difference is that beads are sewn to a base, instead of to each other.
Bead embroidery can be used for many different types of projects, including jewelry, home décor items like pillows and curtains, wall art, and clothing for dolls or people. The techniques used can vary by the materials, and the results are always stunning.
Of all the beading resources I’ve read that cover these techniques, Beading on Fabric by Larkin Jean Van Horn is by far the best. It covers all of the basics and more, providing plenty of inspiration for anyone who loves to create with beads.
The Tools and Materials chapter begins with a thorough description of fabrics in three categories: heavyweight, medium-weight and lightweight. Common fabric types that artists may want to use are recommended for each type – leather, wool, cotton and silk are just a few. Interfacings and backings also get a recommendation for some types of projects.
Then it’s on to threads, needles, glue and scissors. Larkin also provides plenty of information about working on embroidery hoops and frames, storing beads and creating a comfortable work space. Beads get a chapter all their own, with 18 pages of descriptions, full color photographs, and beautiful example projects to show off what beads and fabric can do together.
The Getting Started section is a fantastic read, essential for the beginner. The tips or “rules” of bead embroidery can help even newbies understand the basics of this beautiful art form, and jump into projects with confidence.
Beading on Fabric provides diagrams and step by step instructions for 10 different embroidery stitch styles, plus fringe techniques that range from simple strands to complex netting. And no beading book would be complete without a section on incorporating and finishing cabochons. Larkin’s cabochon instructions are incredibly thorough and easy to follow.
With a final chapter of helpful tips on painting fabric and creating frames, this book covers just about everything you need to know about getting started with bead embroidery. The project gallery is so inspiring, you might be tempted to start looking around for pretty fabrics wherever you go.