Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Embroidery experiments

In my 'other life' I am a research scientist and sometimes the scientific side surfaces in my beading. This month I thought I'd experiment a little with bead embroidery foundations. I've previously always used heavy ('Pelmet'or 'Craft') weight sew-in interfacing as a substitute for the Lacey's Stiff Stuff which I'd seen recommended in books. I have been coming across alternative foundations recently, so I decided to try some different ways of beading...

The first thing I tried was beading directly onto Ultrasuede. This comes in many colours so by choosing a shade to match your background, you can make any gaps in the beadwork less obvious (eg in tight corners)

Work in progress

The drawback to this technique was that the ultrasuede is somewhat elastic so keeping the surface smooth is more difficult.

The second method I tried was to use fusible (iron-on) interfacing, applied to the back of a piece of lightweight cotton. The edges of the cotton fray a little, but could be edged with fray-check to limit this. Here is the beginning of a Purse. So far, bezeling the flat backed pearls has been very easy, but I haven't managed much background yet:

Trial on cotton fabric

The reason I began these experiments was that I'd like to make a bigger project than the cuffs and hair barrettes which have been my usual productions. I was also trying to source some larger pieces of Ultrasuede, as a purse or collar is likely to require a large piece for backing the embroidery. Luckily I came across a fabulous shop on Etsy run by Michiko Somerville: Suedeshop She also supplies Sensuede, marketed as a more environmentally friendly fabric since it is partially made from recycled polyester. I bought a sampler pack of 5 Sensuede pieces 9inches by 6 inches. Not only was this reasonably priced but arrived from California in 5 days! Michiko will also supply other cuts eg Fat Quarters from the bolt. As a bonus there was a little free gift of little scraps, ideal for pins or protecting the backs of  rivolis or buttons!

Needless to say I have immediately returned to the store to buy a bigger piece so hopefully you will see me producing a sparkling evening purse some time this year!


  1. I've been using a 'stiffened felt' from Michaels.
    It's not really felt though. It's made from recycled plastic bottles by Creatology. Sells at Michaels from 69 to 99 cents depending whether they have a sale or not. It comes in about 10 colors. Holds it shape well and is easy to sew through.

  2. Sadly, here in the UK our options are a bit more limited!
    I have seen some interesting felts recently but they are all a bit 'soft' handle to me!

  3. I've been considering getting myself an embroidery frame to do some of my embroidery on... That might be a useful tool for your bigger projects. And I'll make you really jealous by telling you that I have two pieces of ultra suede that are big enough to wrap around me! I bought it for $5 when someone was de-stashing!! :)

  4. If you layer the felt that should make it feel stronger to work with, yet soft to handle. Look forward to seeing your future projects.