From Bracelet to Dimensional Seam Treatment

 Leslie Ehrlich © 2009

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I am always on the hunt for unique seam treatments using one of my favorite mediums, beads! A dear friend in Cornwall, Pam Watson, shares this passion, so we are always trading ideas with one another. Pam belongs to an embroidery/bead group in her area that taught this stitch, so she in turn shared the “how to’s” for making this frilly, lacy bracelet. The pattern is an Indian bead weaving pattern called the Ogalala Butterfly, and can be found in Horace Goodhue's book, Indian Bead-Weaving Patterns. I absolutely love it, and could immediately see the potential of a dimensional seam treatment with it. (There are other neat patterns in this book as well!)

This is a simple technique that provides dramatic results. The number of repetitions affects the depth of the twist and lacy effect.

To begin, you have several options for laying down the baseline of beads. My preferred method, as it is the most secure, is the Back Stitch, using doubled Nymo thread and frequent knots.

I pick up three beads.
 Go back down under the fabric and go back through two beads.
Pick up two more beads.
Back two beads, and repeat until you have a single line of beads.  

Another method is pick up the full line of beads, then Back Stitch through it. A third method is referenced to as the Lazy Stitch. In this method, lines of beads are laid down and couched to the fabric. 

Once you have laid a line of beads down, you will come back up at the end, through the last bead and thread on three beads. Skip one bead, go through the next bead and thread on three more beads. Skip every other bead on your base line until you have reached the other end.

This creates the appearance of a picot or little pyramids. Next step, should you want more dimension and depth in the treatment, you will add on five beads, go through the middle bead (or tip of the picot), and repeat across until the seam is complete. The total number of repeats that can be taken on a seam are seven, with the appearance varying with each additional repeat as can be seen below. I typically stop at three or five repeats.

Three Bead Repeat Five  Bead Repeat Seven  Bead Repeat

To add variety, other colors or bead sizes can be added into the increases as shown below.

I am exploring other opportunities with this stitch, such as creating lacy flowers! This is my first sample and still needs work….but it will give you an idea of the possibilities!

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