Finishing Bead Embroidery Projects

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Well, hopefully you have been following through all the posts in this section. So, that means you’re ready to find out about finishing bead embroidery projects. You’ll be pleased to hear that this is simple, and it is the same process, no matter what project you are making. So, let’s get started.

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Finishing Bead Embroidery Projects

Once you have added all your beads, the process of finishing is the same for every piece of bead embroidery. It basically follows four steps…

  1. Trim the backing to within 2mm of the edge of the beads
  2. Draw around this backing piece on your Ultrasuede and cut the Ultrasuede out on the line you have just marked
  3. Glue the Ultrasuede onto the back of the beadwork (NB, if you are working with a metal blank, then see below before you do this step)
  4. Edge the finished piece with your chosen technique (some options are described below)

Finishing Bead Embroidery Projects If you are working with a cuff or necklet blank, you still need to trim your work and cut out the Ultrasuede. But before you have cut anything too drastically, make sure it is still the right size for your metal blank. If it is too large and cannot be trimmed, that’s going to be fine. If it is now smaller than the blank, you will need to add some extra beads to the edges before you trim everything.

Cut the Ultrasuede to fit your embroidered piece once you are happy that this will fit the blank. Then, glue the embroidered piece onto the front of the blank. Glue the Ultrasuede onto the back of the blank. Allow the glue to dry before you finish the edges.

You may notice from the photo that the edges of my cuff are unfinished. They will not fray and you may not find this unattractive, but it is traditional to add some sort of beaded edge to finish off. So, I am going to talk about a couple of common techniques for doing this.

Over-Stitch

If you are new to bead embroidery, then over-stitch is a simple way to edge a piece of work. I used it for the edging on the cuff you see here. (If you would like to try this project, you can find the tutorial at this link.)

Bead Embroidered cuff by Katie Dean

Refer back to the notes on starting and finishing thread, in the post about starting bead embroidery. You need to begin a new piece of thread so you are exiting from the right side of your backing, just above the bead line. The knot or stitching holding your thread in place to start should be on the wrong side of the backing, so it is between the backing and Ultrasuede.

Demonstrating overstitch to finish your edgesFor over-stitch, pick up 4-5 size 11 seed beads. (You can alter the number if you are using a different sized bead, or if you feel a different number will work better for you).

Take your needle and thread over the edge of the piece and pass through the Ultrasuede and the backing material, so the beads loop over the edge. You should pass through both fabrics just above the existing bead line. So your new loop of beads will butt right up to the existing work and you have a neat finish.

Keep repeating this loop technique all around the edge of your work. Space the loops carefully so they are butted right up to one another, but do not overlap.

Brick Stitch

This is a very common technique for edging. It works well with seed beads and, if you are already a bead-weaver, you will be familiar with the technique. If this is the case, then the only difference is that, instead of hooking under the thread from the previous row, you are going to pass through the edge of your Ultrasuede and backing material.

If you need a brick stitch technique guide, you can find a free tutorial here. I am just going to take you quickly through the principle for edging bead embroidery.

Brick stitch edgingBegin a new thread as you would for the over-stitch (see above). On the first stitch, you will pick up 2 beads. Slide them up to the edge of the work. Then pass through the backing and Ultrasuede immediately above your line of embroidered beads, but at a point that is under the second of your two new beads. Pass back up through the second of the 2 beads you just added.

Now pick up 1 bead, pass through the backing and ultrasuede just below the point where you want that bead to sit. Then pass back up through the bead. Keep repeating this all along your edge, adding one bead in each new stitch.

Bead Embroidery - brick stitch edging

Tips for creating a neat finish with brick stitch

The key to getting a neat edge is firstly to make sure you trimmed as close as possible on your bead embroidery. So you should have absolutely no more than 2mm of fabric between the edge and the point where the beads end. Your Ultrasuede should also be trimmed to a perfect fit with the backing. This will ensure that you can pull in your brick stitch beads nice and close to the existing beadwork.

Secondly, take care when you pass through the two layers of fabric. You want to make sure you give each bead enough space to sit. So, if you pass through too close to the previous bead, then the new bead will end up trying to sit partly on top and your final edge will be ruffled. If you pass through too far away, then your beads will have gaps between them and look untidy.

Again, practise is the only way to get this right.

Whichever technique you have chosen to use, you can just finish your thread by overstitching when you get to the end. Try to bury the stitches in between the beads so they don’t show. Your bead embroidery project is now ready to use and enjoy!

What happens next?

If you have enjoyed learning about bead embroidery, it’s time to give some projects a try. So, this link will take you to a few tutorials you can try.

Perhaps you have more questions. So, if that’s the case, feel free to use this link to ask me and I will write a new post to help you.

And, don’t forget, if you want to be sure you don’t miss out on any new beading advice, you need to join my mailing list. I will send you a newsletter once a month, with all the latest beading articles. Plus you get a free gift when you sign up. So, if that sounds good, click here to find out more and join.

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