Beaded Owl Dress {Tutorial}

Anyone remember back forever ago when I made this dress for Project Run and Play week one? It sure seems like forever ago!

I’m finally trying to get my act together and post a tutorial about how I did the beading on the dress.

To begin with, I used my own bodice pattern, and drew on it part of the neck I wanted blue fabric and gap I wanted so I could bead between the blue and yellow portions of the bodice. Next I cut those pieces out, with added seam allowances, so that when I sewed the lining to those pieces, they were finished, with just the gap I wanted. Sorry no pictures of that step, so I hope that makes sense. Here are the button loops on the back; this is what it all looks like before I sew the lining down. My loops are little tubes of bias fabric, that were sewn inside out and then turned, I personally don’t like to top stitch loops to hold them together, I think it looks less professional.

So anyway, I fully constructed and lined the bodice, and the neck facing piece before beading, so I had all finished edges to work with. I then used the largest basting stitch on my sewing machine to sew my pieces down to paper, with a 1/4″ gap between the pieces.

Using beading thread and a beading needle, I added bars of beads to bridge the gap. (Ignore the bead color here, I only got about this far in before deciding I didn’t like the bead color, it was a very navy black, and in person didn’t look very good, I unpicked this part and changed colors) I started by knotting my thread on the top piece. next I stitched down through the beads, tied a knot in the yellow fabric edge, stitched back up through the beads, and then another knot through the blue fabric edge.

Then I buried the thread between the outer fabric and the lining (so it cant be seen as it runs along the inside) moved over 3 1/16’s of an inch, tied another knot in the blue, and went down through beads to the yellow again. I had to make the bars a tiny bit further apart on the bottom than the top, since the bottom circle was bigger than the top, I just eyeballed it though.

between each section, I knotted off my thread both at the top, and bottom of the beaded bars, so that they couldn’t put any tension on the fabric as the thread traveled to the next bar.  Here is what it looks like done, with all the paper ripped off. I haven’t unpicked the basting stitches yet.

As you can see, the paper held the circles so that they were perfectly aligned with each other, which is no mean feat considering I was putting a smaller circle inside of a bigger one, with only the gap as my guide!

The cuffs and hem were much easier, as they were completely straight, I still sewed them to the paper though, to keep everything aligned.

If you look carefully, you can see the knot at the top of the yellow, waiting for my three beads, and another knot at the bottom.

Once all the beading was finished, I just had to sew up the side seams, attach the fully lined sleeves and skirt, and it all lays perfectly against the body.

The gaps are all perfectly spaced.

And the glass beads go in the washer just fine.

I hope that this tutorial makes sense, please let me know if there is something I need to make more clear!

  15 comments for “Beaded Owl Dress {Tutorial}

  1. March 27, 2013 at 11:24 am

    From a distance, this dress looks amazing. But close up, I am blown away!
    I love your attention to detail.

  2. March 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I still can’t get over the amount of work you put into this dress. I just love the beading on it!

  3. Ann
    March 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    This is just beautiful. Thank you so much for letting everyone have a closer look. I’ve been interested to see how you managed it since PRAP.

  4. March 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    This is one of my favourite things you’ve ever made, I LOVE this dress and the beading detail is stunning. If I will the lottery, will you come and be my personal dressmaker please?

  5. March 28, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I love this detail ~ impeccable !!!
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. March 28, 2013 at 7:24 am

    It’s absolutely stunning- what a labour of love. The combination of the different coloured owl fabrics is beautiful too. xx

  7. March 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Gorgeous!!! I see love in every stitch!

  8. Joy
    March 29, 2013 at 4:27 am

    Love the beaded detail too, it’s so inspirational.

  9. Rubiy
    March 31, 2013 at 2:47 am

    As usual, you are at least six kinds of amazing. Thanks for the tutorial!! Love your Emmie as a model. Girl’s got style!

  10. March 31, 2013 at 4:51 am

    I am so glad you put up the tutorial for this. The step using the paper makes all the difference!

  11. June 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    This is a real labour of love- amazing inspiration! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Addison
    December 15, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I am absolutely in love with that fabric. Can you tell me where you bought it? Thanks

    • cathgrace
      December 28, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Thanks so much! I got it here in Korea at Dongdaemun, the commercial fabric market.

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    I cannot tell a lie, that really hepeld.

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