Embroidery samplers have historically been designed and created to teach different stitches and patterns. Young ladies in society, worked diligently to perfect each stitch, then later in life, used this sampler as an example of the stitches and colours they had used. A Bead Embroidery Sampler is based on this same idea. While the earliest forms of this were created by Native Americans, today it has become a popular way to practice the stitches, while preserving the artform. Using basically the same stitiches found in most embroidery patterns, a Beaded Sampler simply adds beads to the equation.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 14 count aida cloth or material
- Size 11 seed beads (or smaller) in different colours
- embroidery hoop
Decide on your pattern. There are many embroidery patterns to choose from, but not all are completely suited to bead embroidery. Remember, you will be adding beads to the pattern and that will add bulk to the design. Also remember, beads are not all uniform shapes and sizes. There are Bead Embroidery Samplers on the market that have taken these facts into consideration when creating their patterns. If a purchased pattern is decided on, for the first time it is recommended that one of these be purchased. Freeform design can be fun and is only influenced by the imagination. Choose the "stitches" you are planning to use, and design something accordingly. You want to make sure to include enough of each stitch to provide you with good information on how they are done. This way, in the future, you can refer back to it.
Choose your beads carefully. While Czech seed beads, Japanese Delicas and Toho Treasures are most popular, each will provide a different look to your project. Czech seed beads are made of glass and tend to offer the best price with a wide variety of colour and sizes. Japanese Delicas have become the standard in uniform sizing and also offer a wide variety of colours, with the Toho Treasures coming in a close second as to quality and colour. Bugle beads should also be considered, but only with a few of the stitches, as they are long and straight and not suitable for all stitches. While most of the bead embroidery stitches are done with size 11 beads, other sizes are available, from the very small charlottes to larger beads, including the bugle. Again, its a matter of preference and how you wish your project to look. The sampler is designed for you to experiment and be creative. Choose complimentary colours for your projects, considering that each row of stitches could be a different colour in order for you to better identify the process for each stitch. The sampler also gives you this flexibility. Be sure to sort your beads before starting your project. You want them to be as uniform as possible, and set aside any cracked, mismatched, strangely shaped or unusual pieces in order to keep them this way. Doing this sort before you begin your project will prevent any mishaps along the way.
The fabric you choose can also influence your pattern and design. Whether you decide on a kit where the fabric is provided for you, or a freelance design, the fabric is an important design consideration. 14 count fabric works well with Size 11 seed beads and delicas, while providing a "pattern" on the cloth that will assist you in creating your stitches. Again, depending on the size of your beads, your fabric choice may need to be altered. Freeform designs can be created on any fabric from a piece of tapestry cloth to a tie-dyed cotton. However, straight material will not give you the guide you might want for a first project.
The needle and thread you choose is also important to the sampler. Using a size 12 beading needle or an embroidery needle size 7 works well with size 11 beads and delicas. You want to make sure your beads will go smoothly over the needle without getting stuck or being to tight. Use a heavier cotton thread, Size A silamide thread, or a good beading thread without the wax covering. Choose an appropriate colour depending on your bead colour choices. The standard DMC embroidery thread also works well and can easily be matched to the colour of the beads you are using, however you will need to use multiple strands to equal the strength of the others mentioned here.
Place your fabric choice on an embroidery hoop and stretch tight. This will keep your fabric straight and allow for easier working. It is always advisable to begin any project from the centre, but this has become a matter of preference. To make your first stitch, thread your needle and pull through the fabric at your starting point, allowing for a "tail" approximately 1/2 inch long to remain on the back side of your project. As you work your stitches, tuck this tail in, so that it is anchored by the stitches you are making. This will prevent a bump in your fabric where a knot might be found. Create your stitches according to your pattern and design and enjoy!
Tips and warnings
- Hem the edges of your fabric to prevent unravelling while you work.
- Create a bead sampler book by placing a sample of each stitch you learn on a separate piece of cloth, then binding them together.
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