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Bead Embroidery techniques – How to make a String of Pearls plant

Embroidery along with Bead Embroidery has seen an increase in interest recently. We’ve been asked more and more questions about it and which beads can be used. So I thought I’d share this project with you as well as some bead embroidery techniques, hints and tips. This project is a perfect introduction to embroidery it uses 3 different stitches to create a stylised string of pearls plant.  

During lockdown we produced a kit to make an embroidered string of pearls plant. At the time Swarovski made a lovely deep bright green pearl which we included in the kit. However since then Swarovski discontinued them. We didn’t reproduce the kits when our pearl supplies ran out. So I have decided to share the project with you here. You can substitute the original pearls with other beads. Including Preciosa pearlescent green beads  (4mm and 5mm would work well). Or you could use a combination of beads, from larger seed beads, other pearls and round beads. Of course you don’t have to stick with green – a rainbow plant would also look amazing!

This project is a perfect introduction to embroidery it uses 3 different stitches to create a stylised string of pearls plant.  

Materials to gather

  • Trimits Embroidery Thread Green GE6321
    Embroidery Thread Green
    Regular Price £0.60 incl.VAT£1.35 incl.VAT
  • Pearlescent Green Preciosa Crystal Pearls
    4mm Pearlescent Green Preciosa Crystal Pearls
    Regular Price £1.20 incl.VAT£38.95 incl.VAT
  • 20cm embroidery hoop
    20cm Embroidery Hoop
    Regular Price £5.00 incl.VAT

20cm Embroidery Hoop & Calico Fabric (or other medium weight plain fabric)
Green Embroidery Thread
Embroidery Thread in a colour of your choice for the pot
Approx. 40 x 4mm/5mm beads (as mentioned above)
Approx. 30 x 3mm/4mm beads (as mentioned above)
size 11 seed beads green mix (or your preferred colour)
Nymo beading thread
Embroidery needle & size 10 or 12 beading needle

You will also need use of scissors.

Getting StartedUseful tips & things to consider;

· Iron your fabric (it’s much easier to do at this stage than trying to do it afterwards).

· This might seem obvious but try to keep your fabric clean (I’ve got marks on my embroidery before and it’s so frustrating). I wash my hands before working on it – it’d be a shame to spend all that time making something beautiful and then ruin it with a chocolatey fingerprint.

· Don’t try and use very long pieces of thread, you’ll only end up in a pickle with the thread twisting around itself or getting caught on things. About 50-70cm is ideal. This will make splitting the thread easier too.

Getting set up;

Click on the image of the template below for your printable PDF template. If you print the template as it is on A4 paper, it will be to scale for your embroidery (in a 20cm hoop). The thicker black lines on the template are the basic outline (created in back stitch). The blue lines are a suggested design (created in running stitch) feel free to adapt or change it to make it your own. Do bare in mind that the plant pot design will be partially covered by the plant. You could also draw the design freehand using the template as inspiration.

Click the image to download the full size template

Hold your fabric over the template and using a pencil lightly trace the design. This will become the back of the fabric. Place the outer part of the hoop on a flat surface, then lay the fabric on top, with the design centred. Take the inner part of the hoop and press it over the fabric into the outer hoop. If this is too snug you can loosen off the outer hoop by unscrewing the screw at the top. Once the fabric is inside the hoop you can adjust slightly by tugging the fabric until you’re happy with the placement. Make sure the fabric is taut but not over stretched. Then tighten the screw at the top to prevent the fabric moving too much.

I recorded this video showing putting your fabric in the embroidery frame. As well as how to create the 3 basic bead embroidery techniques and stitches needed for this project.

Stage 1 – the plant pot;
Bead Embroidery techniques - How to make a String of Pearls plant - The Plant Pot

This has been sewn using the brown thread and splitting the embroidery thread in half. So that you are just working with 3 of the 6 strands. The outline of the pot has been sewn using back stitch and the decorative details in running stitch.

Stage 2 – the foliage strings;

The long tendrils of the plant have been created using the green embroidery thread. 6 strands of the thread have been used with split stitch to make the lines thicker and add a little texture (demonstrated in the video).  You can use the second template as a guide or create them free hand. The template is available via the same link for the pot (above).

Stage 3 – the plant “pearls”;
Bead Embroidery techniques - How to make a String of Pearls plant - Adding the beads

The beads form the ‘pearls’ on the strings, these are added using the beading thread and beading needle. The beads are added individually using a running stitch. The thread is strong enough not to have to thread through the beads twice. However you do need to make sure you pull the thread firmly so that there’s no sag in the thread causing the beads to droop.

Bead placement is entirely up to you. Be careful you don’t want to use up all your larger beads on the first tendril. A good tip is to divide your larger beads up by how many tendrils you have. This way you will know roughly how many to use on each one so that you don’t run out at the end. The small seed beads are great to use at the very ends of the tendrils.

Finishing off; 

Now that your embroidery is complete you can use the embroidery hoop to hang your work. Alternatively you can take it out of this hoop and stretch it over a small artist canvas. If you choose to keep it in your hoop, you’ll want to neaten the back. I usually trim down the excess fabric (but not too much) approx 5cm. Then pull the fabric in on the back by using a large running stitch around the edge and drawing it in and securing with a knot. This will hid the excess fabric when viewed from the front. If you want to neaten the back further (if gifting your finished work) you can use a piece of fabric or felt (something that doesn’t fray is best). Cut a circle just smaller than the hoop and either stitch or use fabric glue to attach and cover the whole back.

I hope this provides a good starting point for your embroidery journey. Starting with a few bead embroidery techniques and on a small scale, you can easily build on from this starting point. We also offer workshops if you want to learn more.

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