Make Your Stitching Sparkle With Beads and Sequins

Beads & Sequins Add Sparkle & Shine

Mollie Johanson

Whether you're planning a project for the holidays, stitching something fit for a little princess or you just want some shimmer and shine in your embroidery, adding beads or sequins to your work will give it the sparkle you're looking for!

Metallic threads are a common way to add some shine to embroidery, but having more options is always good. Especially when you might also want some extra dimension. Beads and sequins do that so well!

Working these embellishments into your embroidery is as simple as slipping them in along with your stitches and you're sure to find patterns that are just begging for these baubles.

Most beads that are good for embroidery have small holes, so you will need to use a needle with a small eye. Beading needles are helpful, but not essential. Just look for the smallest needle you have (that will still hold a few strands of thread). If that still doesn't work, you can buy something special.

Similar to the needle size issue, not all beads will accommodate many strands of thread. If you are embroidering with more than three strands, you may need to do a second pass of stitching with just one strand to add the beads.

One other thing to remember is that not all beads will be identical, even if you buy them as a pack. If you run into a problem sliding a bead over the needle and embroidery thread, remove it and try another bead. If it's a consistent issue, try another needle or fewer strands of thread.

Now, get ready to stitch some sparkle!

Adding Long Beads to Embroidery

Long glass beads, or bugle beads, make an excellent substitute for long straight stitches. They come in many colors and sizes, so you're likely to find just what you need for your project.

When working with bugle beads, stitch them into place with back stitch. This is especially important if you are attaching more than one in a line. 

As you take each stitch, measure the length of the bead you will use. These beads can vary in length, so you'll need to pay attention to each bead. Bring the needle up through the fabric, go through the bead and then go back down.

While you can do all of your stitching and then add beads after, it's just as easy to work the beads into your embroidery as you stitch.

Stitch Long Beads With Back Stitch
Stitch Long Beads With Back Stitch © Mollie Johanson

Adding Seed Beads to Embroidery

Just about any stitch you choose can hold a tiny bead, or sometimes more than one.

The example above shows adding a seed bead to the tacking stitch of a single detached chain. You could just as easily add a bead to the other parts of this stitch. 

When adding seed beads, bring the needle to the front of the fabric and then simply thread a bead onto your needle and down the thread to the fabric. Complete the stitch as usual. If it's a more complicated stitch, you may need to adjust where the bead lands.

With some sections of stitching, you might even want to add more than one bead to a single stitch. 

Seed beads are also good for incorporating into couching. For this, thread as many beads as you want onto the main thread, then add the tacking stitches between the beads. Make the taking stitches between every bead or every few beads to form a pattern.

Add Tiny Beads to Any Stitch
Add Tiny Beads to Any Stitch © Mollie Johanson

Adding Sequins to Embroidery

Sequins are another fun way to add sparkle to your stitching. They create a different effect than beads and you'll love the way that you see your stitches as they hold the sequin in place.

A traditional way to sew sequins onto fabric is to bring the needle through the hole in the center, thread the needle through a seed bead, and then go back down through the sequin. This will work in the midst of your stitching too, but why not achieve this same thing with embroidery stitches?

First, you'll find that many sequins have a slight cupping to them. It really doesn't matter which direction faces up, but it's best to keep the direction consistent as you work.

When placing individual sequins, use a french knot. Thread the sequin onto your needle and slide it all the way down so that it is laying on the surface of the fabric. Wrap your needle just as you normally work a french knot and then go back down through the hole, completing the french knot.

Don't tighten the knot so much that it pulls through the hole, but do make sure that it's secure. 

If you want to add sequins along a line of stitching, simply slide the sequin over the thread before you complete a stitch, then finish the stitch as usual. This works especially well with back stitch. You'll see the line of the stitch over one side of the sequin.

And taking this further, try adding more straight stitches around the edge of the sequin to hold it and decorate it with extra thread.

Attach Sequins With French Knots
Attach Sequins With French Knots © Mollie Johanson

Choose one sparkly embellishment or use them all in your next embroidery!