Friday, June 24, 2011

Adding Bling!

This post is for Debra who is currently smocking her daughter's wedding dress. She just emailed me and asked for me to show her how to add pearls with smocking again.

We met several years ago in an old SAGA chapter. We have had several planning, pleating and encouragement meetings in the last couple of weeks about this masterpiece. We have met at a mexican restaurant, her house and even in a softball dugout!

Lets start with the ingredients.....

  • Of course you need your pleated fabric. I usually add the beads after I have completely smocked and blocked a garment. If beads are going to be near a seam line I add those after the garment is constructed

  • Next is your needle. The needle needs to have a narrow enough eye to go through the beads. I usually use a sharp needle or a milliner's needle. Sometime you just have to try out different needles.

  • For the thread I use 1 strand of matching floss. For this tutorial I am using black floss for pictorial purposes.

  • And the most important of all your beads. I have use pearls, crystals, seed beads and sterling silver beads in the past. The main thing is they have to be something other than plastic beads. Plastic will melt under the steam of your iron and will not hold up.
I find my beads/pearls at heirloom fabric stores and at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Just as a precaution and to test "the truth in advertising" I test all my beads and pearls by sewing a few to a scrap of fabric then hitting them with a shot of steam and throwing the scrap of fabric in the washer and dryer.

I once discovered "Imitation Cultured Pearls". Unfortunately the word "Imitation" was in very, very small print under the price tag.

After I have threaded and knotted my needle I bring my needle through the back of a pleat. If I bring it straight up the bottom of a pleat, the single strand knot will usually pull through the fabric. I don't want my beads falling off.

Besides the black floss, I will be larger glass beads for this tutorial. I will be stitching a 4 step flowerette with beads added.

I have brought my needle up the same way I do when I smock. I bring it up through the bottom of the pleat then to the side of the pleat to my left.

I add one bead to my needle and stitch an UP Cable. I want my beads to be on top of the pleats not buried into the valleys.

I then add another bead and stitch a Down Cable

Then after adding one more bead I stitch another Up Cable.

Now the tricky part........... After I have stitched my third cable I am going to bring my needle through the sides of all of the pleats till I am to the left of my first bead. I am now back to my original starting position.

I then stitch a Down Cable through my first bead.

I add my last bead and stitch an UP Cable.

I then bring my needle to the back. Next, I start adjusting my beads by giving them slight pushes and pulls and twist. To help the beads stay bunched together I go back through the two side beads and tie off on the back.

This is what it looks like with pearls and matching thread.

And if you want more bling, you can add a glass seed bead to the center. Bring your needle and thread straight up the center then add your glass seed bead and bring the needle back down again and tie off on the back.