Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hana Beaded Fob Part 1

Mid-July I received my copy of Inspirations magazine issue 91 and absolutely fell in love with the project on the cover. Now it might look huge on the cover but the final piece is tiny. It's a scissor fob! It's embroidered with beads using Japanese techniques. I've been thinking about learning Japanese Bead Embroidery for a while and this is a great introduction piece to see if I will like it.

There is no actual pattern that needs to be traced on the fabric, because the fabric IS the pattern. It took a while to track down the fabric online as I really didn't want to pay for Australian or US shipping to Canada for what amounts to a fat quarter. I finally found it here.

The beads were another issue. It took a week to figure out, but I ended up having to order them from three different sellers. All three were in the US, but luckily I had a friend who was willing to bring them back to me so I didn't get ripped off by the shipping fees. I've ordered from Artbeads before and like their services, and luckily they were having a sale on everything in store so I saved a bundle there. The two other places I ordered from were Beadaholique and Simply Beads USA.

The beads used in this piece are all Toho and easy to find except for the 3 cut beads. I couldn't find the Toho ones online in the size I needed (at least not in a reasonable amount, what am I going to do with 200 grams!?) so I ended up getting the Czech tri-cut seed beads instead which are pretty much the same.

All in all, it took 3 weeks to organize all the materials and I was finally able to start on Sunday.

Since there is no pattern tracing for the project, all I had to do to prepare the fabric is to back it with a piece of muslin. I don't have a sewing machine, so I had to do this by hand (very tedious) with cotton quilting thread.

Once I was done, I place my fabric on a hoop. Nice thing about this design, I don't have to worry about creases. It can stay in the hoop for the duration of the project since I will be cutting out the finished work anyways.

The first step is stitching what is called the life line. The life line determines the area that will be stitched. It was a little hard to get the diamond drawn right. I still think it looks a little crooked.

It's not enough to just do the fob, for some reason a scissor case was in my head and it just stuck. I'm thinking I would embroider just the front piece and then the back piece would be finished with the same silk as the fob. By the way I still have to find a piece of black silk dupioni, so if anyone knows a good source please let me know :)

For the scissor case, I'm using a template from an earlier issue of Inspirations magazine that featured a chatelaine (issue 89).

Once the life line is stitched, I covered it by couching a line of beads. The beads are pre-threaded and then held taught to the side. Usually it's wrapped around a koma, a wooden spool with square edges so it doesn't roll. In my case I just used an eraser and wrapped by thread around it. This line of beads is couched down with tiny stitches between each bead using a another threaded needle.

The technique itself is very simple, but it was hard to stitch with black beads using black thread on a black fabric. I felt like I was going blind >.< and kept forgetting which bead I had just stitched. Once it's done though you have a lovely shiny outline. My diamond is a little crooked. I'm not sure how that will affect the finished piece, but I have time to decide whether I want to redo the left side.

The next part was stitching the centers of each flower. Each center started with a black bead which is then surrounded by a circle of couched gold beads. Again, I'm stitching with two needles. It's very finicky getting the circle of beads to lay flat so I can get my second needle set up for couching since it's so tiny.

At the end of Sunday, I managed to get seven flower centers done. Some are nicer than others, but I'm not going to sweat the details since it's a learning piece.

My final impressions at the end of the day, I really love working on it. The great thing about this technique, it's all worked from the front so I'm not constantly flipping the hoop to cut the thread. I'm also not always wasting my time starting and restarting a thread. I'm not sure if they do this with Japanese Bead Embroidery, but traveling the thread is okay according to the instructions as long as we do a pin stitch before and after. Which is great, but I'm sometimes questioning myself on whether I did that or not :P

I've been interested in this technique for a while. Ever since I first discovered the blog Threads Across the Web (which was even before I started this blog). I've already looked into the bead embroidery classes at the JEC in Atlanta, the first phase is a two day class. I emailed them and they will be offering classes in January. You never know, you might find me there come next year :)


  1. This will be gorgeous! Can't wait to see how it progresses.

  2. That looks great - and finicky! You're smart not to try for perfection on your very first piece.

  3. It's a beautiful project even the fabric itself is beautiful. Looking froward to seeing the next part!
    No,I am not on Instagram...

  4. This is going to be beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the final result. Hope you do make it to a class at JEC--that would be wonderful to read about.

  5. Oh. My. Gosh. This is stunning! Plus I have an affection for scissor fobs. Awesome, my friend.

  6. This is why i love your blog, you're always trying intresting techniques. Japanese bead embroidery is so interesting, i look forward to updates on this one

  7. This looks fascinating! I really like the way you've explained each step. I would have thought the magazine could have put together a kit pack you could buy with everything in.

  8. It will look so rich and sumptuous when it's done I'm sure you'll forget about struggling with the black beads and black thread on black fabric!