Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fabric Beads

Since I have been working on two small, shiny art quilts, I thought I might try making some fabric beads to embellish with. I am waiting for a beading book that I purchased on E-Bay, but found some instructions online after a search for fabric beads.

Surprise! One source was blogger Monica Magness, who is the maker of the Love Squared doll for the Pink Artist Project. Very appropriate, since one of these quilts is intended as a prize in connection with that project. Her method involves saving fabric and fiber scraps, washing them together, and putting them in the dryer to form a big thread ball. This part was easy...I keep a zip-lock bag in both sewing room and quilting room for snips of pretty threads and fibers.

Then you roll some pieces into a ball, pin them together, and stitch in and out until you have a round bead.Then you can sew in seed beeds. I thought I had packed a box of tiny colored seed beads, but all I had were some large ones. My round beads look a little like Sputniks with their big beads sewn on.

On the one just above, I used scraps from my one-and-only attempt to use the alphabet stitch feature on my Bernina 1260 to make a quilt label. I never quite got it right, so this bead has part of the words "Summer Jewels" across it.

The instructions for the other method I tried are from the Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild Wearable Art Study Group ( a long name!) This method involves gluing the back of small fabric strips and wrapping them around a chopstick or straw. I used one of those children's drinking straws with the flexible bend. These beads came out with a wide opening, which would be very useful for those times you want to string beads on a piece of cloth or thick yarn. I think they would be prettier if I had used the chopstick or a skewer to get a thinner opening.

The first method was much neater and more time-consuming. I only made three little blobby round beads in about an hour.

The second method produced many more beads, but you have to allow for glue drying time.

I wanted to work on these in the mountains, so I grabbed my supplies before we left. When I looked for my white glue, I noticed this bottle of Galactic Glitter Glue. Hey, why not add a little sparkle at the same time? It worked great and provided a little extra sparkle, although most of the sparkle effect is lost when you roll up the glued fabric strip.

Every time I use this glue, I think of the commercial jingle in the 1981 movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman..."Galaxy Glue, Galaxy Glue/ What would we do without Galaxy Glue? Galaxy Glue, Galaxy Glue/ The world would fall to pieces without Galaxy Glue.." okay, now you can thank me for having that running through your head the rest of the day!

Here are my dyed and painted fabric strips drying on the straws out on our picnic table in the mountains. They dried very fast as it was a hot, sunny day. My picnic table now has little clear globs of glitter adorning it.
After the little rolls of fabric are dry, you slip them off the straw, add more glue, and wrap with fibers, threads, etc. This is the fun part. Keep a wet washcloth handy so your fingers don't get completely covered with fibers stuck to them. Then you let the beads dry again. If you want to use them for jewelry, you can add a little wire to make a spiral for connections.Next up for embellishing fun...Shrinky Dinks! I think I am going into my second childhood!


Vicki W said...

It looks like you are having a great time! If that's a second childhood, sign me up!

Angelika Westermann said...

Hi Jeanne,
Thanks for your comment in my blog!
By the way, I have done fabric beads with straws and like that very much. I always snip a piece of the straw and make the fabric a little larger so that the hole isn't that prominent. One of these days I saw a tutorial on Angelina beads - might have been in Cloth, Paper, Scissors, but I am not sure of that. There you can melt the Angelina on a tiny knitting needle rolling it against the iron. Looked quite intriguing.
Enjoy playing around! Life is too short to be only serious.
Cheers, Angelika