Using Beads in Cross Stitch
by Katrina Renouf
Many people like to add embellishments to their cross stitch, and a great way to do this is with beads. In many situations, it’s also another way to avoid doing the dreaded French knot!
Beads usually cover one space instead of a cross stitch. I would suggest sewing the beads after their surrounding cross stitching is complete because they need to be well secured, and lie on top of the cross stitches. For regular and small size beads, use one strand of floss or for heavier beads you can use two strands. There is also black or white "Nymo" beading thread, and there is "invisible" YLI thread which can be used for beading. If you can’t find these, use a color of thread that is either close to the color of the bead, or similar to the background, so that the thread doesn’t detract from the bead.
The size of the needle usually depends on the size of the bead. With seed beads use a fine pointed needle such as a quilting needle, appliqué needle or beading needle. The hole in most beads is too small to be used with a regular cross stitch needle. Beading needles are long and flexible with very narrow eyes. You can also use a regular hand sewing needle in a pinch, because they’re the only ones thin enough for the beads to fit over. All of these needles are more difficult to thread though, you will probably need a needle threader.
A half cross stitch is normally used to attach them, and you should stitch in the same direction as the lower half of the cross stitch. Some designs suggest that a full cross stitch is used. The difference is the way that the beads will lay. With a half stitch the bead will sit on a slant, while with a full cross stitch the hole through the bead will lie up and down or sideways depending on which way you place it. Whichever you choose though, make sure you sew them all the same way. Many times the instructions will tell you the best way to do it for your pattern. Either way, the bead should be on its side though, not lay flat.
The packets that beads come in are small and do not close easily, so in order to make sure you don’t lose any, find a suitable household container, with a lid, into which you can easily dip your needle and pick up a bead. Children and animals are a great danger to the safety of your beads, and the beads can be a danger to them, so keep them far away from each other.
A final word of caution, NEVER iron beadwork. The beads will probably break, or could melt and ruin all your hard work.
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