Bead embroidery: Preparation

This is the first part of my feature on bead embroidery.

I know. Planning just sounds so boring, and dull, and I can’t think of any other synonyms right now. But it really is important. Like: really important.
The best thing to start with is whatever it is you want to decorate. I’ve got a corset which I’ve been wanting to decorate for ages (this is only a practice, so I won’t be using my nicest beads on it, nor is entirely finished (I forgot to read the pattern instructions so it’s just a mess!) but as it’s panelled it should work fine)

Voila! Half an unfinished test corset!
Voila! Half an unfinished test corset!

The first thing you want to look at is shape. If it’s a garment this is particularly important, as beads may put stress on it if they’re too heavy, or sometimes you just end up with a really big bead in a really unfortunate place. If you happen to have a mannequin, use it. I don’t so I’m settling for the good old-fashioned ‘hold it up against you and pray’ approach! What? It does work most of the time.

Now what I’m going to do is highlight the ‘danger zones’ or zones which have a high amount of shaping.

Voila! Half an unfinished test corset!
Waist, bust. The usual basically, excluding hips as this doesn’t cover them.

I’m pretty fortunate with this, as it’s a very showy thing anyway (‘pretty’, ‘very’, ‘thing’—my English teacher would be furious) and it’s kind of meant to accentuate shape, so I don’t have too much to worry about. Mostly it’s just making sure I don’t obstruct the fastenings (lacing at the back and a busk at the front) and that I don’t make it too heavy.

The final thing to do is to know the basic shape of the garment/piece of fabric. This sounds really obvious, but knowing the shape can help you to decide how much bead coverage you want, and what style/designs you should try.

Corsets are really awkward shapes, but I’ve done my best to isolate it and to really make the separate panels clear.

It's a really bad isolation, but you can kind of see the shape I'll be working with.
It’s a really bad picture (image manipulation is not my strong point!), but you can kind of see the shape I’ll be working with.


Next week I’ll be focusing on the design process.


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