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Bead Embroidery (Essential Stitch Guide)


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Table of Contents

The Royal School of Needlework 6
Introduction 8
The history of bead embroidery 10
Materials 14
Framing up 25
Basic techniques 28
Counted thread beadwork 32
Counted thread stitches 34
Bead Embroidery 54
Bead Embroidery Stitches 56
Beaded Surface Embroidery 68
Surface embroidery stitches 70
Fringes 82
Edging and fringing stitches 84
Index 96

About the Author

Shelley Cox was born and brought up in New Zealand. She trained as a Librarian before coming to England at the age of twenty-two. After several years of travelling, her lifelong interest in history and craft prompted a change of career and she was acceoted on to the RSN Apprenticeship scheme. Graduating at the top of her class, Shelley went on to work full time in the RSN Studio and as a teacher for three years. Now freelace, Shelley works both as a teacher and on commission for the RSN from her studio on the Kent/Sussex border. She teaches all over the UK and overseas to both groups and individuals.


The Royal School of Needlework produces a line of instructional books for needlework called Essential Stitch Guides, and I've reviewed most of them here on Needle 'n Thread.

So far in the series, you can find Essential Stitch Guides for Beadwork, Goldwork, Canvas Work (I haven't reviewed this one yet), Crewelwork, Stumpwork, Blackwork, and Whitework.

All the books are excellent little reference books to have in your needlework library, and so far, they're building into a nice little Library Collection. I'm eager to see what topic is next in the series!

Just in time to add to your wish list for Christmas, I thought I'd review their latest book today - the RSN Essential Stitch Guide for Bead Embroidery, by Shelley Cox.

Right off the bat, I'll just say it: This is a great little instructional book! I am so glad I bought it!

Like all the stitch guides in the series, it's bound with a covered spiral binding, so that it lies flat on the table while you're learning from it. It's a smallish book - a little chunky-thick, but not a large format, so you can carry it around with you from gig to gig quite easily. Just slide it in your workbag - it won't take up much room.

Sounds strange to go into detail on the size of the book, but I really appreciate the thought that went into the design of the series. They are "essential stitch guides" - they cover the basics, and they're meant to be instructive and usable, and I think the design of the books helps accomplish this.

Caution: There's Very Pretty Stuff in here. It will make you want to take up serious bead embroidery.

The book is not jam-packed with inspirational pieces, but the there are quite a few notable, beautiful examples of bead embroidery in it, and the one above is my Absolute Favorite. It's a combination of goldwork and beadwork and it is soooooo pretty!

But, like any good instructional book, there's a lot more to it than just "eye candy."

Candy's nice, but you can't really live on it, you know!

There's a good introduction to the history of bead embroidery. It doesn't go into a lot of detail (I'm glad - that's not the purpose of the book), but it does give you just enough of an overview to fit bead embroidery into context historically.

There's a thorough section on materials, and in this particular case, I appreciate the thoroughness of this materials section. When you start to incorporate other "things" into stitching, it's nice to know all about those things.

So we get to learn all about beads! Different types of beads are defined and illustrated, there's discussion about shapes, sizes, methods of sewing on, and so forth.

We also get to learn about other embellishments that often accompany beads in embroidery - sequins, gemstones, and found objects, like buttons and so forth.

There's a nice section on threads, with clear discussion on what threads work best and how they should be treated, what lengths to cut - all kinds of little tips relating to the threads used in bead embroidery.

And then there are all the other little tools and items that are useful for embroidery, and more specifically, bead embroidery.

And then... we get to the meat o' the matter: the stitches.

It is a stitch guide, after all!

The essential stitches for bead embroidery are broken down into four categories: counted thread beadwork, bead embroidery (the basic stitches for attaching beads to fabric), surface embroidery stitches (the decorative stitches of embroidery, only worked with beads, too), and fringing and edging stitches.

The author starts with the basics: how to thread a needle, how to start and end threads in bead embroidery...

... how to pick up beads and sequins...

... and then she moves into the stitch guides, starting with counted thread.

All the instructions are illustrated with step-by-step photos or diagrams, and photos of the finished technique.

Of all the RSN Essential Stitch Guides so far, I think this one is the clearest when it comes to organized instruction in specific techniques.

Moving on to bead embroidery, we get instructions on the basic stitches and techniques for connecting beads to fabric in different ways.

For example, we learn how to make a circlet of beads, how to sew on lines of sequins, how to sew on lines of sequins and beads combined, and so forth.

Then we move into surface embroidery stitches. Here, we can clearly see, with diagrams, how the surface embroidery stitches are worked. Then, with pictures, the author illustrates who to incorporate beads into those surface stitches. The thread and the decoration created by the stitch shape are integral here, and the beads are "accents" in addition to embroidery stitch.

The last section is how to create edgings and fringes with beads. This section is very clearly illustrated with diagrams and photo examples.

The techniques progress from simple edges...

...to complex, deep beaded fringe.

And the book ends with an index, for easy topic location.

The RSN Essential Stitch Guide: Beadwork Embroidery is a terrific little reference book for anyone who has considered incorporating beads into their embroidery, counted thread, or canvas work. Whether you are considering taking up full-fledged beadwork (it will get you into it with the basics), or simply interested in using beads as accents in other needlework, or looking for creative ways to edge and trim projects - this book is for you!

-- Mary Corbet * Mary Corbet's Needle 'n' Thread *

Apr 14

Have you amassed a coveted collection of beads but are at a loss how to make the best use of them? If so, you need to arm yourself with a copy of [this book]. As well as a sound and thorough grounding in techniques and stitches, the book will also provide you with inspiration and ideas to incorporate more beads in your embroideries. There is a gallery of counted thread and canvaswork stitches that are all enhanced with different types of beads as well as surface embroidery stitches that create some remarkable effects. Shelley also covers how to create luxurious and shimmering bead fringes. As with the entire series of books, it includes plenty of tips and methods of working that come straight from workrooms of the Royal School of Needlework.


June 14

Cox, a graduate of England's prestigious Royal School of Needlework, explores bead embroidery techniques in this stitch guide. After providing an overview of bead embroidery history, supplies, and preparation, Cox demonstrates common stitches used for counted thread, bead embroidery (embroidery where the thread is fully covered with beads), and surface embroidery (bead embroidery where the thread is a component of the design). The counted thread designs comprise the bulk of the book and include a number of common needlepoint stitches embellished with seed and bugle beads. Each stitch features step-by-step directions with close-up photographs of each stage, allowing stitchers to follow the needle path easily. There are no projects here, but plenty of finished objects serve as inspiration. VERDICT Like the other books in this series, Bead Embroidery helps to preserve an old-fashioned handwork technique by presenting it in a manner that appeals to contemporary stitchers. This topic is growing in popularity, and Cox's title works well with Yasuko Endo's Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples, which focuses on surface embroidery incorporating beads.

* Library Journal, USA *

Nov 13

Part of the wonderful Royal School of Needlework Essential Stitch Guides, this book focusses on bead embroidery. It includes a brief history, basic techniques, counted thread embroidery, bead embroidery, surface embroidery and fringes. The book is illustrated with fine examples of work, many from the author's private collection. It details everything you need to know with step by step instructions and photographs of techniques that make it all so much easier. Stitches are included with instructions, a good-sized clear photograph and a chart. It is suitable for those needing to learn basic beading. Recommended.

* Karen Platt Yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/crafts *

Spring/Summer 2014

One of the great things about this book is that it is spiral bound. This makes following the instructions so much easier. It has a brief history of bead embroidery and a chapter on materials, divided into sections on fabrics to embroider onto, types of beads ad their uses, threads, needles and other equipment. It deals briefly but concisely with these elements, leading on to basic techniques.

This is not a project book. Most of the book is devoted to explaining how to do each stitch, and at the end of each stitch section there is a beautiful photograph of what a section of that stitch looks like when completed.

The book finishes with a variety of edge stitches including ten different fringes.

The book doesn't show how to completely cover a surface with beads, but how to incorporate beads into traditional and contemporary embroidery. Near the beginning of the book, there is a stunning full page photograph of bead embroidery combined with goldwork.

Each stitch is explained using lots of clear step by step photos and diagrams and is very easy to understand.

There are a few photographs of finished items, but I would like to have seen some 'gallery' pieces at the end to inspire the reader ad show how the stitches could be combined.

* The Bead Society of Great Britian *

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