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Tips For Beading

The guts and glory of Matchy Matchy will come next week. I promise.

Before I show you the insides and outsides of her (Matchy Matchy), I wanted to give you some tips I learned when I spontaneously decided to bead the god damn thing (sorry god – please forgive my language).

Matchy Matchy began a week after I debuted my me-made dress at my friend’s wedding in April. The project was intended to be simple project but turned out to be anything but. I chose a simple silhouette so that I could make a statement with the fabric.

The fabric I had in mind from the beginning was tweed. A loose woven, tweed not only has a tactile quality that is perfect for fall, winter, spring, or summer but it has a history rooted in one of my favorite time periods – the 1950s. Even though the patterns the threads create are intricate, the fabric is associated with a simple time in American life. So when I spotted vintage, yellow, tweed fabric with lurex threads on Etsy one night, I caved instantly and purchased four yards. It wasn’t a bad purchase in the sense that I spent too much money but it was a bad purchase in the sense that I did not research the fabric beforehand. When that portion of the project came around, the research portion, I quickly learned I’d be in for it. Turns out tweed needs lots and lots of TLC and unfortunately T-Boz, Left Eye and Chili couldn’t wiggle me out of the hole I dug for myself.

I continued on and did it all! I interfaced, quilted, hand basted, etc. When the project was coming to its final stages, I was digging the way everything was turning out that I decided to bead the front neck. Yeh, that’s right, bead. Had I ever beaded before? Nope. Was I going to learn real fast. Yes. So I roamed the library of a local that has a fashion design program (I snuck in) for textbooks that had tips on beading. I found lots of them but below are the ones that I used or thought were noteworthy. The best tips were… the act of beading shrinks fabric and beading should start from the center and move outward. The first tip – the act of beading shrinks fabric – was especially important the neck width on Matchy Match was already small and even though she had a slit opening at center back, I would want the neck width to get any smaller. The second tip – beading should start from the center and move outwards – was also just as important because, well, I never would have thought about it. I always work from right to left or left to right, never from center outwards. This tip is also especially important because I could use this elsewhere. Many times, I have trouble sewing something straight, and example being a trim on an edge. Instead of applying the trim from one end to the other, I could apply it from the center outwards. It would take more steps but in the end, I would save time from having to unstitch and restitch the trim in order to apply it straight.


  1. Reply

    Clare Mountain

    Oh, this is so interesting! I never would have guessed those tips. Who knew that beading shrinks fabric?! Thanks for sharing these tips. I’ll be saving them for when I do more sewing again.

  2. Reply

    Beth McKinlay

    Can not WAIT to see pics of Matchy Matchy!

    • Reply


      Monday. The guts and glory of Matchy Matchy are coming Monday!

  3. Reply

    Marisa Noelle

    I definitely never knew that beading shrinks the fabric – not something they taught in the little sewing class I took years back. I do remember trying to put beads on this collar though and I did not have an ounce of patience for it. That tweed fabric looks beautiful from what I can see in the pic 🙂 – Cannot wait to see the finished piece!

  4. Reply

    Ruffles gazebo

    woo cheers! this is helpful 🙂

  5. Reply


    Wow! Great tips – I know nothing about beading, so there ya go! Learn something new everyday… thanks Maddie!

    • Reply


      you could bead your jeans!

  6. Reply


    Well, it’s safe to say these tips just blew my mind. Thank you for sharing ’em!

  7. Reply


    Great tips! I’ve been interning at a bridal shop and have been given a lot of beading to do. It’s so much fun.

    • Reply


      It’s very cathartic too

  8. Reply


    Fantastic tips, Maddie! I have done some beading work before but they have all consisted mostly of winging it and intuition. I’ll take note of this great advice and save it for whenever I take on another beading project. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply


      I was a wing-it type of gal too but I spent too much time on this project to let it go wrong in the last step.

  9. Reply


    Lol, kudos on sneaking into that library! Thanks so much for sharing these beading tips 🙂

    • Reply


      the good part about being twenty five and looking like I’m eighteen is that I blend in with the rest of the students

  10. Reply


    Hehe, I’m guessing your local college doesn’t have quite the security set-up of some London university libraries – sneaking into those places must be nigh-on impossible! I once made the mistake of painstakingly sewing a zillion beads onto a top for my sister without having her try the top on first (it was a birthday present). Not sure it ever got worn! Very handy tips but I’m a bit confused by step 5, think there might be a typo in the first sentence…

    • Reply


      Thank you for calling out my mistake! What I meant to say was…

      if possible, bead each piece before the garment is constructed. When each piece is beaded, compare it to the paper pattern to make sure it has not shifted or shrunk (the act of beading causes shrinkage). If the piece has been altered in any way, recut accordingly. Does think make sense?

      • Reply


        Yep, think so! So if the pieces might shrink, I’m guessing you should cut them bigger first time, or leave spare fabric round the edge?

  11. Reply


    Thanks for the beading tip, can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  12. Reply


    I definitely want to tackle beading, thanks for these tips! I can’t wait to see your finished garment!

  13. Reply


    I wish i knew all this before I hand beaded a dress for the first time. Good to know!

  14. Reply


    Thank you for the tips! I secretly dream I’ll bead something someday but I need to start with baby steps first 🙂 Like getting the garment fitting right lol 🙂

  15. Reply


    Thanks for these tips! I’ve only beaded something one (and only sparsly) it’s a commitment!

  16. Reply


    this sounds like a labor of learning! I had a dream once of beading and hand embroidering a Scottish cape pattern and never got far. I think I’often overestimate my patience for handwork!

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