Monday, October 18, 2010

More Shiny Than Sew-y

I guess I lied. I did intend to post on my next sewing project. Then I got busy shingling the dollhouse roof, and turned back to an ongoing bead project while the glue was drying (has to cure overnight before I can do anything more with it, anyway). So, tonight, my head's full of the sparkly and the shiny and the pretty little wonders that are beads.

This is the project I've been working on tonight - a reversible cat-face amulet bag in peyote stitch. I stopped just at the point of dividing for the ears. (This is an earlier shot - I'll post the finished weave when it's done.) It's just such a joyous process, row by row seeing the design emerge. I loved the moment when those beautiful blue and green eyes, respectively, were complete and gazing at me.

I can't remember a time when I haven't been messing about with beads - from the "Indian Bead Loom" I made friendship bracelets on as a kid, or learning from my mom how to use wire and bugle beads to make rings, right on to using them as costume embellishment.

But it was bead-weaving that really first spoke to me, as an adult. Like pointillist painting, but in a shinier medium, you might say. I started with Sigrid Wynne-Evans' brick stitch earrings, and then became fascinated by peyote stitch and Amy Loh-Kupser's designs, like this polar bear amulet.

From there it was on to dimensional pieces...

And, more recently, tiny beaded books that actually open, based on Maxine Peretz Prange's instructions but my own charted designs (using a terrific shareware program called BeadTool).

I guess part of the appeal is that it's almost like having the chance to weave your own fabric (though, oddly, my interest in weaving never went further than those loop-based potholder looms...).

No, who am I kidding? It's all about the glitz and the "ooh-ahh" moments when you confidently say to someone. "This? Oh, I made it..."

Sewing next time. I promise!


  1. See, THAT'S one of the reasons you and I get each other - I usually have 4+ projects going on at the same time. Your beadwork is astoundingly beautiful. I am lucky enough to have some!

    Do you think at some point you could show me how to sew sweater material together? I got this beautiful, very open weave and light sweater fabric, and I have patterns picked out that I am choosing between (C) (E)

    But back to your beadwork....I love to see this here! A simple project tutorial would be cool, too!

  2. Sweater knit can be tricky, because it has so much inherent stretch. A good idea would be to practice on seaming a couple of scrap pieces before putting the whole together, just to get the feel for the tension you need to maintain on the fabric, with your hands, so as not to give either the surface or the seam allowance the opportunity to distort. It's a little different for every sweater knit...or, that matter, for every knit, period.

    My up-front advice is to use a stretch-stitch setting - for something like this, with a longer rather than shorter stitch length, since you'll be working with a looser-knit weave than something like jersey - and, once you're happy with the result, be sure to finish off the seam allowances with something like a zigzag overcast or, better yet, a "pine-tree" stitch setting, which mimics what you would get from a serger. That's critical to keep sweater-knit seams in particular from raveling.

    (C) from the first pattern looks like a lot of fun! You could do contrast fringe by hand with some sort of exotic and interesting yarn...great way to personalize a garment without breaking the bank on skein after skein!


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