Adding Seed Beads to a Cross Stitch Project

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There are many ways to add dimension to a cross stitch pattern. One simple technique to get a 3-D effect is to add seed beads to a project. Seed beads are uniformly shaped small round beads that range in size from one to four millimeters, on average. They come in a wide range of color from solid to translucent. Seed beads are an inexpensive way to add layered effects to any cross stitch project. Many ready to made kits come complete with beads and a specialized needle.

What Needle and Thread to Use

When using seed beads for a cross stitch project, it is best to use a specially designed beading needle to add seed beads. If you do not have a specific beading needle, a size 28 tapestry needle will work. It is best to use the smallest and skinniest needle due to the size of the hole in the seed bead.  The needle is smaller and sharper than the one you use for cross stitch. Choosing the right needle will diminish any issues rising from the bead getting stuck on the needle. 

The floss color used to attach seed beads are usually included in the directions for the pattern. By using floss that matches the bead, the project will look more even and dimensional. A contrasting color against the bead will draw attention to any flaws in the pattern. While contrasting floss with seed beads is usually not a good idea, in situations where the seeds represent berries and other flora with leaves, a nice green floss with a contrasting bead will give you a more natural effect.

Attach and Secure the Seed Beads

To attach the seed beads to the fabric use a half stitch to add the bead unless otherwise indicated in the design instructions. Insert the needle from the back of the fabric, add the bead, then take the needle back down. This will make sure the bead stays in place. 

To secure the seed bead further, cross stitch a second half-stitch from the opposite direction. When using two strands of floss, allow one strand of floss to fall on each side of the seed bead. Try not to use more than two strands of floss when attaching seed beads. Any more than two strands will make your project look bulky and the seed beads will not sit down on the fabric the way they should. 

Tricks to Keep Track of Your Beads

Keeping track of your beads while stitching is daunting. Items such as a  Bead-nabber are great tools for picking up and holding seed beads. Bead nabbers are Velcro tips that attach to the top of the finger and holds them there for easy threading.

A small painter's palette is an inexpensive way to corral the beads. An egg carton is an inexpensive way to also keep track of seed beads. There are also containers specifically made for seed beads. They are usually clear small containers with lids.  

How to Stich the Rows of Beads

When stitching rows of beads, start at the lower part of the project and work up the fabric. Make certain that the half stitches used to attach the beads all face the same way. By stitching the beads in the same direction, they will lay down better on the fabric and give a more uniform raised look. The exception to this is when stitching things such as grapes and the middle of flowers for a bunched effect.

Because the eye of the beading needle is usually smaller than a tapestry needle, use a needle threader. When using two strands of floss, it is easier to thread one strand of floss at a time into the eye of the needle. Take care with stitching with beading needles, not only will the eye of the needle break, but also the seed bead. Never try to force the bead on the needle, it will cause it to shatter. 

Adding seed beads can take a ho-hum project up a notch. Seed beads add another dimension to your project. From fantastic jewelry to every day samplers; they add an extra dimension to any cross stitched venture. Beading adds more time to pattern, but it is well worth the effort.