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!

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