Friday, 25 January 2013

How to Make Fabric beads

I have chosen beads as my daily project for 2013. I will be using them in a variety of ways. The project is called 'And the Bead Goes On.'

For January I have been making fabric beads and embellishing them with beads, tiny buttons and sequins. The results of each week are posted on a Sunday. Come back at the end of next week and see all the January beads together! and the start of the February version for the daily beads.

Since I have made 31 of these fabric beads this month (and a few in November when I was trying out the idea), I thought I would give a little how-to about things I learned about making them easier.

The first ones were made using scraps of pre-fused fabrics. All of these were fused with Misty Fuse - some white and some black.

I used the same idea of making paper beads and cut long triangular shapes. If the shape is short, you get a short fat bead. If it is long you get a wider bead.

After cutting the fused fabric into the shapes, I roll them on a thin knitting needle. The one I am using says 2 1/4 mm. (No, I don't knit, my friend gave them to me for purposes like this!)

The photo above shows me rolling the bead on a white surface to make it clearer.
But it is actually easier on the ironing board, as the surface grips the fabric a bit and you can control the roll. I try to aim for the point of the triangle to end in the middle, but I don't always fret about it.

The iron is hot, and after the bead has rolled to the end, I touch the bead with the iron here and there - rolling as I go. As you can see, no worries about burnt fingers!
Often, the tip of the triangle will not have fusing on it because it was near the edge of the fabric scrap. That doesn't matter if you are embellishing because you can hold it down with your first bead.

The first set I made I was careful to get it all fused. But with so many fused layers, it was really hard to push a thin beading needle through the layers. I also tried some hand dyed silk habotai. Even with tapping the iron on it to fuse, the thin fabric made it pretty solid.
One that was so solid I decided not to use it!

So, now I just use the iron enough to get it to stay together long enough to get to the point where I sew the beads on. If you were going to use the fabric bead alone with no embellishment, I would recommend being more thorough with the fusing.

I have some other scraps of thin fabrics with fusible on them. I think I will probably cut thin strips and lay them on plainer fabric triangles prior to rolling and fusing. Here is a set I made where I tried the idea.

This week I have tried the idea of collecting 'left behind' fusible from another project.
With Misty Fuse, you need to fuse fabrics between two layers of baking parchment. If you have already cut out the shape you are fusing, you often have a 'halo' of the fusible left on the paper. Especially if the shape is irregular.

I know a lot of people fuse great swathes of fabric and then cut from it. I seldom do that because I don't want to have to buy more just in the middle of a project because I used it up on fabrics that are now back in the stash. So, anyway, as you can see in the photo above, I laid the scrap I wanted to have fusing on over the fusible left on the baking parchment, pressed it with the iron and lifted the fabric when it had cooled. The leftovers stayed on the fabric! and then I kept repositioning the scrap til I had collected it all. I think it will hold it together enough to stitch into.

Because the finished bead has layers, it is easy to bury the beading thread
knot between the layers when you start. When I finish, I draw the needle out from under the edge of a layer, make the knot, and then pull the knot back under and up where I cut off the tails. (Like when people bury knots when they quilt.)

I usually wait til I have finished the embellishment to snip off any little fraying edges of fabric. Not that you can tell when you look at it in person, but if you take a photo...well they look pretty shoddy at a magnified focus!
a bit furry!
(This is the thin silk. You can see it does work if you aren't too forceful with the fusing. Because the fabric is thin, the same length of triangle as cotton will result in a thinner bead. The knots need to be a few more layers down or under a set of embellishments so they don't show through the silk.)

Another tip: Stitch the embellishments onto the fabric beads while it is still on the knitting needle!!! It is a whole lot easier to hang onto it!

I generally make enough fabric beads for the week, rather than heat the iron for one wee bead everyday. This would make it easy to take beads with you to work on if you were going away.

If you didn't want to embellish with little beads, you could stitch into it with embroidery thread, use embossing powder on them, wrap shiney threads round or touch it up here and there with metallic paint.

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Let me know if you have a go at making some fabric beads!


Carol A. Babineau said...

Great fun! What will you do with them, will we see on Sunday?

Sandy said...

Hi Carol,
They will be part of the daily project for 2013. If you click on the link at the top of the post or on the 'daily' label you can see what I have done so far.

So, at the moment I have collected all the fabric beads together. Still working on January. I will show all of January's beads on the first Sunday in Feb.

At the end of the year, I depending on what I end up with, I will probably use them on a fantastical garment or something.

Kit Lang said...

I was going to say the same thing - what do you do with them? But you provided the answer. :)

Marti said...

This looks like a lot of fun. You could pop a couple in your bag to work on the beads while sitting at an appointment, dr. or dentist.

rothequilter said...

What a great project. I look forward to seeing your beaded path. Rosemary

Nina Marie said...

ohhh I wondered how to do this! thanks!

365 Dresses said...

Great project, Sandy. Love the fabric beads, and the idea of rolling them on the knitting needle is very clever.

Sandy said...

Hi Jeannie,
The most helpful thing is to stitch on them while they are on the knitting needle! It works like a 3rd hand when it comes to manipulating the beads and needles and tying knots, etc!