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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Painting With Beads

I was asked by a few folks  how I start a bead embroidery project.  I had an article in Quilting Arts magazine (October/November 2015) page 68, called  Painting with Beads.  If you have a copy, you'll see my step by step process.  And  if you have that copy, you can go have your breakfast, clean house, etc. and stop reading this post!  HA  Otherwise, please read on!

I like to find copyright free coloring pages on the internet for my subject (or I will  photocopy real leaves my friend, Susan, finds for me!)....there are so many birds, leaves, name it and you'll find it.  Just 'Google' Free _______ coloring pages.  This is how I started Mr. Blue.....I found this coloring page for a squirrel.  

Once I've saved the image, I print it onto either Pellon 808 Craft Fuse (cut to 8 1/2" x 11" to fit your printer) or  a Wash-Away Applique Sheet by C&T.    I like the applique sheets since they are already cut to 8 1/2" x 11" and ready for my printer.  Make sure you print on the non-fusible side!  

You can also print out a color picture (rather than a coloring page of your subject) on the Craft Fuse/Applique sheet.  That's what  I did  for my leaf project.  It helped me in selecting the different shades of beads.  

Once your printed image is dry, trim the printed image but keep at least 1-2" border.  Next, following each manufacturing instrutions, fuse onto a piece of Pellon 70 Peltrex Ultra Firm stabilizer that is cut larger than your trimed image.  Pellon 70  is a good stablilizer that holds up well (if you're slow at beading like I am!  ha) and is easy to sew/bead through.  I will either machine or hand base around the fused image to make sure it remains stable while beading.  

You can see how my squirrel was fused and machine basted (that's the blue outline) onto the Pellon 70.  Because 'he' was so large I didn't trim away any of the printout.  He fit the 8 1/2" x 11" sheet!  

I have also beaded direct onto a quilted background,  in place of the ultra firm stabilizer.  Those were smaller pieces like my butterfly 3"x5".  

Or a  bird(s) which was about 7" long but only 3" at the widest.  I also beaded using a hoop to keep the quilted background stable.  I prefer the stabilizer vs beading direct onto a quilted background...been there...done that!  You don't need a hoop!  

I'll do another post on finishing up your beaded piece in the future.  

 I've learned some tips on bead embroidery through the years!  Here are just two from folks you may or may not know!

Kate Boyan a wonderful beader from Alaska suggested to first outline your image with beads.  It was and is a great tip so I do this every time now.  If you haven't been to Kate's blog, plz do so.  Her beading will amaze you!!

You may see on my squirrel where I didn't outline all of 'him'...for example, around his tail area.   I wanted the beads to be fur like!  Make sense!

And from my Blog Bud, Mary Stori,  who suggested you secure a bead mat in a small wood embroidery hoop.  This tip made it so much easier to keep threads and beads from flying all over!  Mary is a master at beading in addition to her fabulous quilting.  

 My hubby added to Mary's tip by placing cut bead mat pieces in small jar lids and setting those inside the hoop!!!  

And now you're ready to start beading!  Easy! Hope this post helps you start your own 'Painting with Bead" project!  Any questions, please email me or comment and I will respond to you.  And if you do start or finish a piece, please let me know!  I would love to showcase your work!!


  1. I’m very flattered Robbie…….and your husband’s idea is super!!!

  2. Thanks--lots of little hints that I will definitely use!

  3. Love seeing the detail on all your pieces! And great tips on the bead mat and hoop/jar lids. Those beads can get away from you before you know it.


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