The New Beader’s Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell is one of the best-selling jewelry making books in print. It was revised and updated just this year with lots of great new information! As much a tool as a book, the spiral bound flip book can sit directly on your work station to be referred to as often as you need it! The book starts with a breakdown of the types of beads on the market, the different finishes available, and all the different shapes (so you can say “Ah! That’s what a Keishi bead looks like!”). The book is replete with sketches and diagrams so you can get a really good idea of how size 10 beads really compare to size 12s, along with charts that compare by number the beads per inch, per gram, and weight by hang for all the different sizes. The millimeter-sizing chart is also separated into round and oval shapes, making this chapter alone well worth the price of admission!
There are also in-depth sections on stringing materials, conditioning materials, adhesives, and needles. There is a great chart to help you pick the right needle for the work you are doing, and even a section on using a needle threader!
Other chapters include in-depth directions on many different off-loom stitches (brick stitch, peyote, herringbone), looming techniques, stringing techniques, bead embroidery techniques, how to knit with beads, how to crochet with beads, tying knots, macramé, findings, wirework, and even a chapter on finishing details for the different types of beadwork discussed in the book.
There is even blank graph paper in the back of the book designed for different kinds of stitch work that you can copy and use to create your own designs!
I often get emails from people who are just getting started and want to invest in one really good book that covers all the basics. Whether you are in that position or if you have been beading awhile but would love a good tool that covers a lot of basic information in one place this is a fantastic resource!
Ok, I admit to a wee bit of the Imelda in me. I love me some shoes. Growing up with super wide feet before wide sized shoes were readily and cheaply available, my parents could only afford to buy me one ridiculously expensive pair that I would have to wear until I grew out of them. To this day, I am completely traumatized by black and white saddle shoes!
Now that wide sizes are available everywhere I can indulge in inexpensive shoes to my hearts content. I especially love flip-flops in the summer. But this poses another problem. Flip flops are not made to last, and I manage to wear them out even more quickly than the average person. The constant trips to the pool and the perpetual paint splatters probably don’t help any!
I love the look of funky beaded flip flops, but 15 to 20 dollars a pop adds up when you wear them through several pair a season. ! Then I found some plain black flip-flops at my local dollar store (that’s the 99 Cents Only store chain if you live in the Houston area) with sturdy cloth bands that just begged to be beaded!
The neat thing about this project is you can go as simple or as wild as you want! I beaded these with red and black seed beads with some simple ladybug buttons in the middle. I wanted something unique but not utterly outrageous (I’ll make that pair next!). The design is a perfect foil for my white summer jeans!
Nylon beading thread
Seed beads or delica beads in the color of your choice (I used red and black)
Buttons or other sew-able embellishments (I used ladybug buttons)
Scissors for cutting thread
All of these supplies can be found in the craft section of your local Wal-Mart. Beading needles will be with the beading supplies, not the sewing needles. The eye of the needle is no thicker than the rest of the needle so they can pass through even small beads. Seed beads work fine for this project although they are not all uniformly made, so even with a beading needle so of them will not be able to pass over the eye of the needle. Delicas are uniform and easier to use for needle weaving projects but are substationally more expensive and will have to be purchased at a specialty store or web site.
Cut a length of beading thread and double knot the end. You can add a dab of jewelry grade adhesive to the knot for extra security if you wish. Run the needle and thread through the flip flop at one end from back to front. To create the same look around the edges of the flip flop (as in the above picture), add four beads of one color to your thread and whipstitch the thread through the sandal one more time from back to front. Since your needle and thread are already running through to the front of the sandal, this will loop the thread with the beads around the edge of the sandal.
Repeat this stitch alternating colors of beads. You can bead over the whole sandal or just do the edges like I did.
In the middle of each flip-flop, I sewed on a ladybug button instead of beading the whole strap.
These sandals have been hugely popular among my friends and family ever since I finished them…my mom has been volunteering me to make them for everyone she knows! If you whip up a pair I would love to see a scan of your design!
Barefoot Sandal Projects
Easy barefoot sandles made with elastic cording, hairpipe beads, and pony beads.
A two-needle weave beadwork barefoot sandle with diagrams but no pictures.
Made with seed and bugle beads.
An easy foot jewelry project with beads and beading elastic.
Bead and wire work project.
Clear stretch cord and simple beads.
A very cool toe ring made out of copper plate.
Very easy wire work project!
Replace the straps on your flip-flops with beaded straps!
Use fabric or bias tape to make cute coordinating flip flops!
A great project for plastic or “jelly” flip flops. Embellish with crystals and faux gems!
Call it beach camoflauge! Decorate your flip flops with just some little shells and some industrial strength craft glue!
Don’t let your flip flops have all the fun…you can bead your canvas tennies too!
Filed under: Bead Embroidery
Ah, the lazy stitch. The easiest form of bead embroidery and a great way to fill up large areas of space on a surface. The lazy stitch is great for items such as wall hangings or art dolls that don’t get a lot of handling but can be harder to use on jewelry designs. Because each bead isn’t stitched down individually it can be easier to have the stitches snag on something and get pulled out. But for gentle-wear items (such as a little lapel pin) it can be a great option.
You start by bringing your needle up from the bottom of the fabric through the top. Add 3-5 beads to the thread and push the needle back down. The beads will lie flat against the fabric but won’t be tacked down securely so make sure you bead your rows close together so the beads don’t roll around too much!
Filed under: Bead Embroidery
Bead embroidery is exactly what it sounds like…the process of embroidering a surface using beads! Bead embroidery is most often used to embellish clothing, but it is also a wonderful technique to use in jewelry. Beaded cabochons are becoming increasingly popular items not only as pendants, but in earrings and necklaces as well.
Over the next few weeks we will talk about different bead embroidery stitches you can use in your own bead embroidery, but for anyone new to bead embroidery a good supply list is the first place to start!
Chamois is a great background material to bead on. You can buy it in the auto care section of most discount superstores. It is strong and pliable and often won’t need a heavier backing behind it when you are done beading. Ultrasuede is very similar to chamois but can be a little more expensive. Felt is not a bad option, especially for art dolls and practice pieces. It is very cheap and easy to work with, and would be ok for pins and pendants if you made a backing for it with cardboard or clay. One of the cool things about felt is it comes in many different colors so if you want a background color to show through the beading, it is easy to do with felt! Don’t feel limited to just these materials though…you can bead embroider on just about any woven cloth…I’ve done lots of bead embroidery on denim!
Thread and Thread Conditioner:
The thread that is used for bead embroidery is different from regular sewing thread and can be found with the beading supplies. Even though it is somewhat more durable than regular thread, it will still fray eventually. A good thread conditioner (which can be found at most beading and craft stores with the beading thread) will go a long way in preventing frustrating snarls and knots. Wax can be a decent stop-gap if thread conditioner is not available. I’ve used a wax candle to condition beading thread on more that one occasion!
Beading needles tend to be thinner and longer than regular needles. The longer beading needles are very flexible, but are more prone to bend and warp. If you are using them on a heavy duty fabric such as canvas or denim, they can even break if you aren’t careful. The eyes of the needles are smaller so the small beads can pass over them. Many beading needle sets come with a threader to help the process since the holes are so small. Beading needles are sized in accordance with beads. So theoretically, size 12 beads would correspond to size 12 needles but it doesn’t always work that way…especially with seed beads that can vary quite a bit in their sizing.
You can use just about any kind of bead for bead embroidery. Bugle beads and different sizes of round beads are the most common. The smaller seed beads and delicas are a great way to fill in areas and create complex, light-catching designs. Delicas are more expensive than seed beads but they are also the most evenly sized. If your design is depedandent on all the beads lying exactly right, delicas are your best option. You will also know that the delicas will always fit over your needle, which can be an issue with seed beads. That being said, I use regular seed beads for bead embroidery all the time. I always have a few that aren’t sized right for my needle and I set them aside for another project; but most of the time they work just fine.
Flat Backed Objects:
Objects such as cabs, buttons, and mirrors make wonderful focal points to bead around. Anything with a fairly flat back can be incorporated nicely into bead embroidery. Just make sure you attach it with a jewelry-grade adhesive that is graded for use with fabric such as Jewel Glue or E6000.
Also, you may want to check out Beaded Embellishment By Amy C. Clarke and Robin Atkins. It starts with a wonderful history of bead embroidery, covers many basic stitches and techniques, discusses elements of design, and includes several projects to get you started.