How To | Scumble-Beaded Trim and Belt, Part 2

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Getting your materials and doing the first pass of beading goes fairly quick once you get the hang of it. Now for the slightly more tedious (but way more impressive) part of the process!

The Second Pass

So you’ve scattered your larger, more precious beads along the length of your trim, now it’s time to start filling in the remaining space.

Instead of stringing one bead at a time (boring, excessively tedious, and time-consuming), you’ll work with several beads on your needle at once. Pour your filler beads into a larger bowl or section of your bead board and mix them up. To string them onto your needle, just skim the needle through the puddle of beads until you get enough of them loaded. It may take a bit of practice, but it’s really a simple thing to do once you get the hang of it.

Push the beads down the thread to meet the foundation piece, and then figure out how far your string of beads will reach before stitching through at the other end.

What things should start to look like as you work through pass two. You can still see the focal beads, but the space is filling up with overlapping strands of the filler beads.

What things should start to look like as you work through pass two. You can still see the focal beads, but the space is filling up with overlapping strands of the filler beads.

Instead of tacking down another stitch, come up alongside the line of beads you just added, cross over and stitch down on the other side, hiding the thread between two of the beads in the string. This secures the long stretches of beads and keeps the work nice and tidy instead of loose and floppy. Bring the thread up in another spare space and repeat, crossing over the previous strings and going around the beads laid down in the first pass, filling up the space as you go. Leaving some smaller open spaces is okay, though, as the tiniest beads will wait to go into the third pass.

The Third Pass

Just like the second pass, but using the smallest of beads and usually fewer at a time.

If you run into larger gaps, feel free to grab some of the leftover beads from either of the two earlier passes–after this one you should have no parts of the foundation fabric visible through the beaded fabric laid on top of it.

You can see I used a lot of the tiniest beads along the edges.

You can see I used a lot of the tiniest beads along the edges.

Depending on how long you’re making your trim, these steps can take anywhere from several hours to several days. It’s great work for sitting in front of the television. I’ve spent many of our date nights at home catching up on the DVRd shows and stitching on strand after strand of beads. The first pass of beads for my cardigan took about 4-5 hours for the almost 3 feet it required. I’d say the second and third passes easily took 10-15 more, though I didn’t keep track. Like anything, once you get used to the mechanics of the process it goes much quicker and you’ll be surprised at just how much you can get done.

Putting It All Together

For edging your dress, a jacket, or other sturdy something, the best method is just to sew it right on. If you’re worried, as I was a bit, about a more flexible fabric not being able to stand up to the weight of the beading alone, using a second length of ribbon on the back side of the fabric will help shore everything up. It worked like a dream on my cardigan.

I already own my dress, it’s hanging out in our hall closet in a ginormous dress bag along with the crinoline I ordered to go with it. Because I bought it as-is, I knew it was going to need steaming and, possibly, cleaning before the wedding. Cleaning of garments like this, at least in the realm of price, depends heavily on level of decoration–the more beading and details, the more expensive it is to have it seen to. As it stands, though, my dress is very simple and streamlined and if I leave the trim off the price will undoubtedly be lower, but I also didn’t want to have to be adjusting my dress (and risking the wrinkles) so close to the wedding. Ergo, I needed a way to easily add and remove the trim I wanted to add to the neckline.

Obviously you want to select notions closer in color to your dress.

Obviously you want to select notions closer in color to your dress.

In order to do this, I’m going to use Hooks and Eyes  just under the edge of the cuff that tops my dress, with the hooks attached to the top edge of the trim.

The small hooks & eyes are fine for the 5/8″ trim I’m making, but a sturdier piece of edging might be better attached by larger versions called skirt hooks.

Skirt hooks can also be used to attach a belt without requiring it to go all the way around your waist. I would arrange to have them hook along the top edge of the belt and then on each side where the belt ends.

Of course, there’s more than one way to make a belt.

Peek-a-belt! Hide the seems, make it look nice, and make it easy on yourself.

Peek-a-belt! Hide the seems, make it look nice, and make it easy on yourself.

To finish the belt, especially one that was stitched onto a wider fabric than the beading, first fold over any excess and stitch down. I’m opting to bridge the gap on the back side with a narrow strip of ribbon. This serves two purposes: (1) it conceals the messy stitching on the back should the belt get flipped around and (2) it creates a channel that another piece of ribbon or elastic can be fed through to be able to wear the belt. To secure it, just stitch the ends closed through the pass-through elastic or ribbon.

Right now I’m planning on the elastic approach, secured with heavy snaps in the back. I bought a dress over Christmas that had a similar treatment on its belt and it gave me plenty of ideas. I just don’t care for loose tails like most tie-on belts feature. There’s hook-and-eye tape (aka Velcro), too, but the sound of that tearing open is like nails on a chalkboard to me. You could use the same technique to make a sparkly headband with either ties or elastic joining the two ends.

Sandwich the tulle between the ribbons with a little bit extra on the end.

Sandwich the tulle between the ribbons with a little bit extra on the end.

Finally, if you’re wanting to use a bit of scumble trim on your veil or other airy materials, this is the one time I might actually suggest gluing over sewing–or at least in addition to! I’d also suggest you attach your trim a little ways in from the edge, sandwiching the tulle, etc. between two pieces of ribbon and then, once sewed and/or glued into place, trim the excess tulle flush to the edge of the trim.

Here's my dress, with the finished cardigan and the partially finished belt and cuff trim pinned into place.

Here’s my dress, with the finished cardigan and the partially finished belt and cuff trim pinned into place.

I still have to attach the hooks, etc. but I dragged my dress out of the closet to get some in-progress picks and make sure my ideas were going to work as planned. I’d say it’s a case of sew far, sew good, wouldn’t you?

How To | Scumble-Beaded Trim and Belt, Part 1

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Back when I attended a monthly knitting group I first encountered the term “scumble.” It’s just such a fun word, and while it has a very definite meaning in fine art painting, for textile work it usually means free-form or patternless work. So, even though we’ve got a bit of structure in our base and for our finished project, I like to think of this beading technique as rather scumble-y since we’re not using a repeating pattern.

Lots of little pieces, but not a big hit to the budget.

Lots of little pieces, but not a big hit to the budget.

First, gather your materials. You’ll need:

  • Ribbon or fabric that matches your color scheme. I like ribbon because it has finished edges and requires less work on my part other than measuring and cutting to have a solid foundation to work on. Furthermore, I prefer a grosgrain-style ribbon since it’s sturdy enough to hold up the beads without getting floppy on us. Satin ribbon could work in a pinch, but the tendency to snag and pull might prove problematic.
  • Beads in various sizes and/or colors. Beading like this means substantial shine, but shine comes at a price. To maximize the value in a DIY project like this one, pick out some nice beads like glass pearls, Swarovski crystals, and other high-impact gems, then pair them with simpler (and more cost-effective) filler beads like roccailes (11/o), e-beads (6/o), and bugles in your color scheme. Finally pick up some very tiny (like 15/o seed beads). As for color, you can go monochromatic or multi-colored, depending on the style you’re going for. I stuck with shades of ivory and peach for the larger beads, with clear and silver accents for the filler.
  • Needles and thread. There are beading needles out there but sometimes they’re not sturdy enough to go through the ribbon or fabric we’re using as a backing, so a simple, cheap multi-pack of needles will do just fine. You do want to make sure there are some small-eyed needles, though, as the smallest bead sizes still need to pass over them. Thread you want strong but not too thick. I used some quilting thread I had in my stash and it’s worked beautifully. Again, you want it in a matching or neutral color since you will see bits of it through the more translucent beads and, perhaps, between stitches.
  • Scissors and measuring tape.  No mystery here–you’l be doing a lot of snipping of threads and you’ll need the measuring tape to tell you how long to make your trim.
  • Bowls or a felt board with multiple sections. A felted board keeps the beads from scattering hither and yon every time you bump or move your work area, and the bowls or sections mean you can pour out your beads without mixing them up.

Once all of that has been assembled, you need to know how you’re going to use your finished trim because this is not something you can make a whole bunch of and then trim to size–you’re liable to lose beads that way and undo some work in the process. Instead, measure the garment (like, in my case, the neckline of the cardigan or the width of the front of my dress) to be adorned and then add about an inch to either end. This extra space allows you to fold some un-beaded ribbon up to make a nice, neat edge without fraying and reinforces what might otherwise be the weakest sections of the trim.

If you’re using fabric instead of ribbon, you’ll also need to cut it to the width you want, and hem the edges, too. (This is why I like ribbon.) If you’re going the ribbon route, you may not be able to find the exact width you want. For instance, I wanted a shade over an inch for my belt, but what was available in the color I needed was a full 1 1/2 inches. My solution was to use the wider ribbon but sew a line of basting stitches the width I was after to mark my edges, with the plan to fold them over and stitch the excess down once I was finished beading.

Keep in mind that this sort of beading is going to be quite heavy and quite sturdy, so if you’re planning to edge, say, your veil in this manner, you’re going to want substantially smaller beads and ribbon than if you’re making a belt, headpiece, or trim for heavy crepes and satins.

Now that we have our materials ready, let’s start the fun part: the beading!

My bead board working on the first pass.

My bead board working on the first pass.

The First Pass

Because we have a limited number of the larger, extra-sparkly beads (due to price or just plain scarcity), it makes the most sense to scatter them along the necessary length before adding anything else into the mix.

Thread a needle with a long piece of thread–I usual start with 2 feet or so–and fold it over so that it’s a workable length but do not knot the ends together. We’re only using a single thickness of thread through the beads in case another pass is required.

Make a single stitch at one end of the foundation fabric to anchor the thread and sew on the first bead. Make another single stitch at the opposite end of the bead, coming up through the fabric a little ways away from the first bead. Sew on another bead, make another single stitch, and continue in this way to add the larger beads in a random pattern along the full length of the foundation.

The extra stitches after each larger bead keep the fabric from puckering or drawing up. The other alternative is to stitch each path between the beads and that’s just asking for a headache, if you ask me.


The first pass, top and bottom. You'll have a whole network of crossing threads on the underside of your ribbon when you're through.

The first pass, top and bottom. You’ll have a whole network of crossing threads on the underside of your ribbon when you’re through.

Since I’d started with a finite amount of the “special” beads, I poured out half of them to be used on the cardigan trim, and the other half was saved for the dress trim and belt. At the end of the first pass on each I still had some beads left over. They didn’t go to waste, I was able to use them to fill some of the larger gaps during the second pass.

The rest of the process is coming up in the next post.

It’s More Than Just the Dress

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

With the dress procured, what else to wear was still up for debate.

Let’s start from the bottom and head up.

When I tried on my dress I was wearing 3″ heels (pretty standard for me) and they were just about perfect for the existed hem. While they are not the shoes I will be wearing on the day of the wedding, they at least gave me an idea of what I needed to look for.

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans?

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans? (personal photo)

To say that I have a thing for shoes would be putting it mildly. I haven’t counted recently (there’s been no good reason to), but the last time I wondered enough to do so I counted 85 pairs, and I’ve bought several since then. I’m definitely in the triple digits by now.  And most of them are heels because I find it painful to wear flats for more than a day. (I have Achilles tendinitis in both heels that developed several years ago, amusingly enough while I was wearing flats a lot thanks the multiple dance practices a week–usually it’s caused by wearing heels too often, not the other way around.) I also just love the confidence boost a good pair of heels can offer, and definitely have my favorites for when there’s an important meeting at the office.

So when I considered what I wanted in a pair of wedding shoes, I knew it needed a decent heel, preferably a platform for stability, closed toe, and an ankle strap to keep me from accidentally walking out of them–security is key! It was a while before I found my ideal wedding shoes, and for a while something like these (found via Offbeat Bride) were definitely a contender.

Images via

I’m definitely on the colored-shoe train, but not because it’s trendy: I just can’t stand white shoes (fallout from surviving the ’80s) and don’t want to buy a pair of shoes that I’ll never wear again.

The thing is, I have plenty of shoes around our wine color, but none of them are comfortable for an hour plus of standing around OR they’re way too tall. So I think I’m leaning a bit more towards cream or brown. I think it’s just a case of I’ll know it when I see it. Which is exactly the case when I found these Madden Girl shoes via Zappos.

image via Zappos

image via Zappos

I took them for a test-run at a charity event in April and I almost counted them out. They’re the first shoes I’ve worn in ages that rubbed blisters on my little toes–definitely not something I’d count in the pro column. But then I tried them on with the dress (which, by the way, still fits perfectly a year later–no alteration fees in my future!) and they were the perfect height. Unless something else comes along that’s even better I think I might just add some moleskin or other friction barrier to the littlest piggies and go with it.

As to the rest of the ensemble, I’m not planning to don a veil, so there’s the choice of hair decor to decide (remember, the girls loved me in a tiara, so that’s certainly an option). I’ll wear the journey necklace Mr. Road Trip gifted me on our first Christmas together and maybe a dressier version of my usual hoop earrings, so jewelry is mostly sorted out.

There’s also the matter of the jacket or sweater to cover my shoulders. I spent part of last winter knitting a cropped cardigan as a test for my wedding-day ensemble (patterns seldom work for me as-written, I always have to use the knit-and-see approach), only to find it matched the shade of ivory of my dress pretty much spot on! It still needed a little bit of dressing up, though, which brings me to: the bling.

I love the trend of sparkly belts, so plan to make one for my dress in cream beads and tiny ivory pearls. I’m also considering some trim to peek out just under the folded cuff along the top of my dress, and then edging the sweater’s neckline with the same beading so everything looks like a set, not just disparate parts.


The beaded neckline of one of my favorite shirts | personal photo

This shirt I’ve had for ages, and it’s one of my favorite pieces to wear. It’s a Henly-style top, but instead of buttons, both plackets are covered with this piled-on beading and that’s what I’m thinking will look best for the accents on my outfit. It’s a fairly simple technique, it’s just a matter of assembling the supplies and getting it done (tutorial to come).

What pieces are you still hunting up for your bridal ensemble?