Whether you have made the wedding dress yourself or purchased it, adding beads will give your dress a special touch that makes it unique and beautiful. A wedding dress can cost a lot, but doing the bead work yourself saves a lot of money, while increasing the value of the original. While beading your dress can be quite time-consuming, it is not difficult work, so let's get started.
Choose beads that match or enhance the fabric and lines of the dress. You may want small, white pearls for elegance, cut faux glass or small, clear beads for shine, or small beads in a colour that enhances the fabric. For example, if your dress is a pale pink taffeta, you might choose pale pink pearls to blend in or white pearls to draw attention to the lines.
Decide where you want to sew beads. Obvious places would be along princess seams to call attention to the elegance of the bodice, around the neckline to create a delicate effect, along the length or width of the sleeve for graceful movement and along the hemline for shimmer.
Sew beads onto the dress one at a time. This may sound tedious, but if a thread breaks or snags loose on the big day, you will lose only one bead, rather than a whole line or cluster. Thread your needle, knot the thread, and poke it through the fabric, starting from the wrong side. Place the bead on the needle and poke back through the fabric in the opposite direction, from right side to wrong side. Make sure you don't pull the thread too tightly and pucker the fabric. Knot the thread again from the wrong side of the fabric. If the bead is heavy or the fabric is thin enough to rip, place a drop of glue on the knot.
Create a line of beads by sewing the second bead next to the first, lining up the beads so that the tops and sides are consistent. Your line of beads will look much less impressive if they aren't straight, so take the time to poke the needle carefully along the same line as the previous bead so that the beads are straight.
Enhance a feature of your dress by sewing a drop of beads. If your dress comes to a "V" at the neck or waist, sew a drop of several beads to hang from the "V." Begin as you would to sew on a single bead, but thread three to five beads on instead, knotting the thread after the last bead so that your drop can move freely. You may want to knot in between beads in case the final knot fails. Choosing a bell-shape for your final bead in the drop allows you a place for glue to make the drop more secure after you knot the thread.
Sew beads onto lace for dramatic sparkle, or if you cannot bring yourself to stick a needle through your beautiful fabric. Choose very light beads for lace so you don't cause the lace to sag.
Be careful to keep patterns consistently spaced and lines straight as you sew on the beads. Practice on another piece of fabric or lace before you begin beading your dress.
Never pull the thread tightly so that the fabric crinkles. Maintain a firm, but not tight, tension. Too-loose tension will cause your beads to sag.
Tips and warnings
- Be careful to keep patterns consistently spaced and lines straight as you sew on the beads.
- Practice on another piece of fabric or lace before you begin beading your dress.
- Never pull the thread tightly so that the fabric crinkles. Maintain a firm, but not tight, tension. Too-loose tension will cause your beads to sag.