BEADING by Machine

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Tutorial 3 Comments

HELPFUL HINTS and TIPS for Beading By Machine 
Detail from “Montana Treasure” Art quilt
—  I prefer a 90/14 size needle as it works best  to pierce all the quilt layers. I also prefer to add my beads once my project is quilted and almost finished, so this size needle works best to pierce all the layers I am working with. Keep in mind that the needle, all the way up to the shaft, must slide through the hole of the bead EASILY.  80/12 needles can work too, depending on the type of thickness and fabric you are beading, as well as the size of the hole of the bead!  Note: the finer or smaller the needle, the more easily it can break going through many thicknesses. 
Detail from “Frost on the Zinnias”
— Do not use a bead taller than 1/4″
— I recommend using a polyester thread in both top and bottom, matching your background fabric. Polyester as a stronger thread will not be as easily frayed by any roughness that is typical of the inside hole of the bead.
— be sure to lower your feed dogs! 
— Be sure to lower the presser foot BEFORE you start.  Remember that you are not using a foot… so it’s easy to forget to do this because you can’t see the foot physically come down onto your quilt. If you don’t lower the presser foot… you will most certainly have a mess of threads on the bottom in no timenot fun!

— “Frame” the needle with your hands, doing your best to keep the the fabric as flat and taut as you can in order to enable the needle to “catch” and make the stitch.  At times you will see or hear that it skipped a stitch. This is normal! Keep at it, and be patient!  (The large turquoise bead in the center pic below was done by hand)
Detail from “Montana Treasure”
 — If desired, you may hoop the area to be beaded (I recommend a screw-type hoop with a narrow width that will  fit underneath the foot of a machine)  But for me, this means that the tightness of the hoop is likely to warp my quilt, so I don’t do this in most instances.
— If you use a hoop, corral your beads in the hoop
— Tie off (the same way you tie off for free-motion quilting)
— May use a stiletto or tweezers to move/push the beads for placement
Detail of Beading on Angel Quilt: “Psalm 91:11 for Jamie”
— For exact placement of a bead, use the hand-heel, guiding the needle tip until it just grabs the hole of the bead, and gently drag the bead to where you want to stitch it. Then, using your hand-wheel, sink the needle into the center of the bead. Then bring the needle back up and take a stitch on the same side of the bead as when you first went in with your needle. For example, if you stitched from the left side of the bead, then go out on the left side, and the bead will turn onto it’s “side.”  VIP: make 3-5 tiny stitches between each bead, which ensures that if one bead breaks off, all the beads won’t!  Tie off at the end, stitching 5-8 times.
Keep at it!  
As always, some things never change… practice,  practice… PRACTICE…!  
You will enjoy the extra special detail of dimension and sparkle that is worth this extra special effort!

Comments 3

  1. Leslie,

    Oh my gosh!! Great information and as always, your detail photos are incredible!! Thanks for posting this!

  2. Thank you so much Leslie for putting such helpful and instructional information on your blog . . . not to mention the lovely photo's of your work! Color is just so beautiful! I LOVE the hollyhock you did, can't wait to see it in person! Joanie

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