Tag Archive | beads

Friday’s Favorite: Shells, Pearls, and Beads

I love jewelry, and the combination of shells, pearls, and beads, well enough said, drop the mike, I am all on board!

Summers by the Sea, is a beaded neck-piece that I made, using the free-form peyote stitch technique. I incorporated a variety of treasures using a pallet of soft colors that reflect the sea and shore. I stitched vintage and new glass seed beads and novelty shaped beads with clusters of fresh water pearls, brown muscle shell charms and beads, abalone shells and chips, and my favorite the button shells (they look like small cowrie shells).

Winter Solstice, is another beaded neck-piece that I made, using the free-form peyote stitch technique. I have incorporated fresh water pearls, vintage shell and glass buttons, and vintage glass sew-throughs with vintage and new seed beads. In the close-up you can see the variety of pearls, glass buttons, glass sew-throughs, and seed beads that I used. The light blue beads (almost gray) are vintage beads found in the Hudson Bay area, they are over 200 years old.

Happy Stitching to you, enjoy what you do and make everyday count. ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Color Episode 1

Color, color, color and more colors. I love them all. When I work, I let the fabrics and other components tell me what they want to be when they grow up. Today, I am going to share two pieces from my cream and beige collection.

9″ x 10 1/2″

Creme de la Creme

This piece was featured in my book The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing. It was an example of a monochromatic color palette. There are shades of cream, off-white, candlelight, beige, and pearl. The base of this piece is a doupioni silk, layered with many treasured bits of lace, that I had collected over the years. The embroidery was worked in silk ribbons and perle cotton threads. The embellishments include, beads, mother of pearl buttons and charms, and fresh water pearls. The frame is comprised of carved bone purse handles.

13″ x 13″

Splattered Scattered Tatters

This piece is from my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New. I crazy pieced the base using odd scraps of muslin, added batting to the back and quilted a random pattern with perle cotton #12. I gathered small bits of machine made lace, tatted and crochet lace, and appliques. Some of the tatted and crochet pieces were made by my mom and myself. I also found a home for a collection of crochet and thread woven buttons, mother of pearl buttons, and bone underwear buttons. The embroidery is very minimal, so that the lovely components could speak for themselves. To bring all of the shades of cream together, I spatter dyed the base with Colorhue dyes.

I hope that your day is colorful! Happy Stitching to you all! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Fall Colors

14 3/4″ x 13 3/4″

Batik Galaxy by Christen Brown

This piece started with the a group of batik fabrics in dark mustard, teal, and cranberry/rust. The cranberry/rust fabric reminded me of the red ring around Mars, so I created a galaxy in the center of the piece, using a wholecloth reverse applique technique. The copper and antiqued brass finishes of the celestial-themed charms added an extra color element. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

11 1/4″ x 12 7/8″

Umbria by Christen Brown

This piece started with four printed fabrics in rich browns, rust, and cranberry colors. I found a variegated perle cotton that picked up all of those colors. I then chose the remainder of the embroidery and embellishments to match the thread. Embellishments include vintage shell buttons, copper charms, and glass buttons that are sprinkled around the fiber and metal leaf trims. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

17″ x 16 3/4″ (close-up)

Autumn Ribbons by Christen Brown

The base of this piece started with a linen napkin, and added bits of vintage lace that I hand-dyed with Colorhue dyes. I then added in loads of rust, orange, and brown flowers and leaves that I hand-stitched from Hanah silk bias ribbons. I used techniques that can be found in my book Ribbonwork Flowers by C&T Publishing. The embroidery was worked with perle cotton, Wildflower threads, and silk embroidery ribbon, using many of the stitches that can be found in my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

24″ x 23″ (close-up)

Harvest Quilt by Christen Brown

The base of this quilt was strip-pieced using Hoffman cotton batiks, in rich autumn colors of rust, umber, cranberry, maple, and olive. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton #5 and #8, Wildflower threads, and cotton floss. This piece was featured in the gallery section of my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

Enjoy! Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Bead Embroidery vs Thread Embroidery

I love to embroider, which I am sure you can tell. I have two books that are specifically focused on embroidery. In the Hand Embroidery Dictionary there are over 500+ stitches, both traditional stitches and unique stitches that I developed for the book. In my book Beaded Embroidery Stitching, I offer you both traditional bead embroidery stitches as well as unique techniques that accommodate the special characteristics of the different bead shapes and sizes.

Below, I show you how various forms of thread embroidery can be adapted to bead embroidery and bead woven stitches. The use of beads in the bead embroidery and bead woven stitches certainly do bring a surprisingly visual and dimensional aspect to the work.

Here is an example of two crazy pieced sections of fabric. The first is worked in traditional thread and silk ribbon embroidery stitches, along with embellishments such as tatting, rosettes, charms and buttons. In the second piece, you see traditional stitches translated into beaded embroidery, with the stitches worked in seed beads in sizes 6°, 8°, 11°, and 15°. Embellishments include lace, larger beads, charms, and buttons.

This is an example of a sashiko pattern, the first is embroidered with perle cotton; the second is embroidered with 11° seed beads.

Here is an example of the cross stitch worked in perle cotton, and size 11° seed beads.

Here is an example of two brooches, worked in similar design. In the first I embroidered the Brazilian rose, and traditional leaves and French knot stitches in perle cotton; with a couched cord frame. In the second, I embroidered the a rose with size 11° seed beads, and added in bead woven leaves, and charms; with a beaded couched cord frame.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Stitched Adornments

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Floral embroidery is a descriptive term that was used for both thread embroidery (silk, wool or chenille); and ribbonwork flowers (a piece of ribbon or fabric that was stitched with a needle and thread). The flowers were arranged in sprays, or as a single bud on men’s waistcoats, ladies gowns, shawls and other accessories. Popular stitches for the embroideries were satin, long and short, and stem. The chain stitch that could also be worked with a tambour needle is often used as the only stitch in the design.

Ribbon work flowers such as aerophane or crepe floral embroidery (used in the late 19th century) had the details of leaves and stems stitched in with thread embroidery. The ribbon, a thin silk gauze or crepe would be cut then gathered with stitches to form each petal of the flower. Narrow silk “China” ribbons were available in shaded colors, and were first used in ribbon work floral embroidery. This narrow silk ribbon could also be threaded into a large eyed needle and stitched into flower shapes (usually a straight stitch) with added silk thread embroidered accents. The combination of ribbonwork flowers and silk ribbon embroidery gave the design dimension. The top image is from a satin purse, with the ribbonworked flowers and leaves of stitched chenille. A gift from my husband for my birthday, probably circa early 1900’s. It is incredible in person.

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

The second image with the whimsical floral vignettes was made, I believe as a sewing or knitting bag, but I use it as a purse, circa 1940’s judging from the fabrics used. Some of the flowers are made with ribbon, some with fabric scraps, some with added felt details. Primitive embroidery and beading were used to enhance the floral sections. I found this lovely treasure on eBay, and I adore it.

Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Magical Masks and Wands

I have been creating wearable garments for many years. I always have fabric, beads, and treasures left over from those projects, so many of them have additional accessories, such as masks and wands. What better time of year to share some of these with you!

Moonlit Sea was made for a vest called Chandos Summer Storm.

The base of the mask is pieced from left over fabrics that were used on the vest. The base was then embroidered and embellished with shisha mirrors, glass beads, ceramic and metal charms, old earrings, carved bone and shell pieces, and ribbon.

Kalahari Spirit Dancer was made for an ensemble with the same name. The ensemble includes a jacket, a vest, a skirt and a purse.

For the mask, I pieced fabric onto cardboard, then glued shisha mirrors and strands of glue to cover the raw edges. I applied gold leaf to the glue just as it was drying. I have added all sorts of charms and talismans, that have given the piece it’s own spirit.

Madame Butterfly mask was made for a jacket with the same name.

The handle is made from a piece of drift wood that I spray painted. The base of the mask is pieced and machine stitched with metallic threads. It is embellished with fabric yo-yos, shisha mirrors, beads, charms, old earrings, carved bone and shell pieces, and ribbon.

Polgara’s Mask was made with an old tree root that I found. The rounded parts of the root, resembled a mask. I added another piece of wood for the handle.

I embellished the mask with a vintage pheasant feather piece that was attached to an old hat. In addition, I added ribbonwork flowers, vintage millinery glass pods, velvet ribbon, and a tassel to complete the piece.

White Shell Woman was made for one of my first wearable garments, by the same name.

The base is a piece of driftwood that I sanded and sprayed with shellac. Bits of gathered pieces from nature include coral spines, dried pods, shells, and driftwood. Beads, bells and ribbon complete the design.

All Friday’s Favorites posts.

Enjoy your haunts this month, and always! Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

Bead Embroidery Tools

  • 6” clear quilter’s ruler
  • Air-erasable or water soluble pen: to mark embroidery lines
  • Bead scoop or teaspoon: use for picking up beads
  • Bead thimble: to pick up beads
  • Bead threads: Silamide, Nymo
  • Fast2mark Embroidery Stencils (by C&T Publishing)
  • Gauge to measure larger beads
  • Magnifier to see those tiny treasures
  • Needles: beading long and short, small sharps, cotton darner
  • Needle gripper: to pull the needle through layers of fabric
  • Perle cotton: to sew buttons or charms in place
  • Pincushion
  • Scissors: fabric and embroidery
  • Segmented dish: to organize all your treasures
  • Sewing thread: to sew buttons in place
  • Small crochet hook or awl: use to take knots out of beading thread
  • Synthetic bead wax: use to condition thread
  • Thermal bead mat: use to keep beads from sliding around work surface
  • Thimble
  • Thread Zap II pen: to burn thread close to the knot

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Bead Embroidery Basics

Beading Threads

Silamide and Nymo are the beading threads that I use for bead embroidery and bead woven stitches.

  • Choose a color that is neutral to the fabric and to the beads and embellishments.
  • Cut a 3 yard length for bead embroidery.
  • Cut 1 yard length for bead woven stitches.
  • When used for bead embroidery the thread is used double with a knotted tail.
  • When used for bead woven stitches, the thread is usually used single.

Beading Needles

Beading needles are fine and thin and are most commonly found in sizes 10-13 (the larger the number the larger the needle). I prefer the John James brand of needles. They come in both a short and long length. I prefer to use the long needles for both bead embroidery and bead woven stitches, but I find that most people choose what works for them.

Note: A small sharps needle can also be used, on seed beads 10° or larger.

Threading the Needle and Waxing

  1. Cut the end of the thread so that it is straight across.
  2. Cut the thread according to the suggestions above.
  3. Hold the end of the thread close to the eye of the needle and insert the thread an inch or so beyond the eye.
  4. If you are working with the thread doubled, fold the length in half, with the middle of the thread at the eye of the needle; match the tails together. Follow the remaining steps.
  5. Place the eye of the needle next to the wax; pull the thread firmly over the wax.
  6. Place the eye of the needle at your forefinger and close your thumb over the thread. Pull the thread through your fingers to merge the two threads together.
  7. Knot the ends together.

Note: The thread in bead woven stitches is not knotted, the thread is woven between the beads to secure the thread.

Tips on Waxing

The goal of waxing the thread is to keep the two threads together, but not to have so much wax that you have clumps in the thread which will end up on the fabric.

  • A clean “used” toothbrush can be brushed across the surface of the beads and to remove unwanted wax build up on the surface of the fabric.
  • If the thread does not stay together after the first pass through the wax, then re-wax the thread.
  • When removing the thread from the needle, cut the thread close to the eye then pull the threads out of the eye. This will prevent a wax build up in the eye of the needle.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

BEADS, Glorious Beads

The, beads, those tiny, shiny little treasures!

Types of Beads and Sizes

Seed Beads: round seed beads come in sizes 5° – 18°, some vintage beads can be found as small as 24°. These are used in bead embroidery, bead woven stitches, and beaded jewelry.

Triangle and 3-cut Beads: Triangular beads have 3 sides, and come in sizes 6° – 15°. Cut beads are round with one or several sides squared off, they come in sizes 8° – 15°. These can be used in the same ways that seed beads can be used.

Bugle Beads and Square Beads: Bugle beads are long and cylindrical, and come in sizes 2mm-20mm. Square beads have four sides and come in sizes 4° – 15°. These beads can be used in bead embroidery, bead woven, and beaded jewelry.

Larger Beads: Larger beads come in sizes 2mm and larger. These can be used in bead embroidery stitches, bead woven stitches, and beaded jewelry.


Charms: Charms come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. These can be used bead embroidery stitches, and beaded jewelry.

Buttons and More: Buttons can add that extra bit of sparkle, or create a special design element. Chips, discs, and pailettes can also be used to create interest. These can be used bead embroidery, and beaded jewelry.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Friday’s Favorites: Autumn Jewels

These are a few of the small wall hangings and wreaths that I have made. The first was featured in my book Ribbonwork Flowers, with the ribbonworked flowers attached to a wire base, embellished with vintage buttons and charms. The second was a class that I taught at my store, with the flowers and leaves made from French wire and woven ribbons, embellished with vintage buttons and charms. The third features a dragonfly that I taught at my store, embellished with silk and woven ribbonwork flowers and leaves.

Here are two neck-pieces that I have created. The first is entirely made from ribbonwork flowers and leaves from the Petals and Posies series that I taught at my store. The embellishments include vintage velvet ribbon leaves, and a sprinkling of vintage and new buttons. The second is a version of a class that I taught at my store, Entwined Treasures. The base begins with a silk cord base, and is embroidered and embellished with beads, ribbons, charms and buttons.

Enjoy this harvest of treasures! Happy Stitching! ~Christen