Sunday, October 2, 2011

Couture Techniques: Seams on Beaded Fabrics

Sewing with beaded or sequined fabrics can be time consuming but the results are rewarding. Beaded dresses are stunning and oh so glamorous. This summer while dining out at an upscale restaurant with a good friend I promised myself that on our next dinner outing together I would wear a beaded or sequined dress. I'll likely purchase a vintage one...but if I were to make it, I would use this technique.

Beaded Seam:

A more time consuming method for seaming beaded fabrics, this method reduces bulk and discomfort of beaded seam allowances and ensures that the beads are securely attached to garment along seam lines.

1.    Mark and thread trace pattern pieces onto fabric. Leave 1” seam allowances.
2.    Carefully cut the garment pieces out.
3.    Determine how beads area attached to the backing cloth. Often this is with a chain stitch that can be pulled out easily if the correct thread is pulled. A chain stitch will pull out easily from one end of a row of stitching, but not the other.
4.    Insert needle into one loop of chain stitch next to bead you want to be closest to stitch line. (This will prevent chain stitch from pulling out beyond this).
5.    Pull chain stitch or carefully pick out stitches up to the needle, retaining long thread from stitching.
6.    Wax thread pulled from beads to straighten. Clip end.
7.    Thread needle with this thread.
8.    Stitch through loop that needle is holding in place – to secure and prevent loss of beads.
9.    Stitch back up through bead at the end of the row and back down to wrong side of fabric.
10.                  Knot off securely. Clip thread.
11.                  Repeat on other rows of beading until seam allowance is free of beads.
12.                  Pin garment together along seam lines.
13.                  Hand baste together along seam lines.
14.                  With zipper foot, stitch along seam lines.
15.                  Press seam open, using velour needle board or folded towel to press beaded face of fabric into. Lower temperature on iron and press very carefully to avoid damaging beads or sequins.
16.                  Re-bead over seam line using spare beads. Do not catch seam allowance in this beading.
17.                  If garment will be unlined, turn raw edges of seam allowance under and slip stitch in place. Press (carefully).

Note: Other bead removal methods include cracking beads from the stitching line and trimming sequins from the stitching line.

I love this dress! Especially the neckline and sleeves.

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  1. A couple of summers ago I worked on an opera wherein all of the female chorus members were in beaded dresses. It was a fun, though time-consuming, process to deal with all of the different kinds of beads. We used the smash technique for the most part. It was a great way to relieve frustration.

  2. And once you have made your beaded garment, you too can pose in some outlandish position like perhaps spread out on the back of your couch or maybe sitting on top of your fridge.
    By the way, I got tickled by the first pic of the model in the beautiful beaded dress.

  3. Thanks for your lovely comments, ladies!