Bead Embroidery

Attaching Beads to Fabric

Downloadable and printable PDF instructions.

When recording the video clip on this page, I used a doubled over perle #12 thread on a size 7 embroidery needle.  That was for clarity and under normal circumstances, when attaching beads to a project, I will use a doubled over single strand of cotton on either a size 10 or 12 bead embroidery needle or, better still, a size 10 or 11 ‘sharps’ quilting needle. 

Both of these needles have a small eye that will fit through the tiniest, size 15° bead and my preference for the quilting needle is because they don’t bend as quickly as a beading or bead embroidery needle.  By using a doubled over strand of cotton it provides strength whilst also filling up the hole of the bead a bit, so that it doesn’t move around.

In the video clip, I used a bright blue thread for clarity but once again, under normal circumstances, I would choose the colour of my thread based on the bead I am attaching, choosing one that is close to the colour of the beads.

Attaching a Bead with a Bead

Instead of using a larger bead, you can use a sequin, with the smaller bead holding the sequin in place.

Attaching Single Beads to Fabric

When attaching beads to fabric, you never know what size to make your stitch.  If the stitch is too long, the thread is visible and if it’s too short, the bead sits at an angle.  Doing it the way I am about to describe, means that you make the stitch the right length to hold the bead firmly in place so that it sits flat with no stitch showing – or hardly showing. 

This is particularly useful when you are attaching bugle beads and whilst I have demonstrated with a 3 mm cube bead instead of a bugle bead, that was or the sake of clarity.  The round beads are size 11° beads.

  • Thread up single strand of cotton, double the threads over and tie the tails together with a knot.
  • Bring your needle up through the fabric at the correct point. 
  • Pick up the bead and push it back to where the thread comes out of the fabric by sliding your needle between the two strands of cotton and pushing the bead with the needle.
  • When you can’t push it back any further, go into the fabric at that point thereby making the stitch the exact size you need to hold the bead firmly in place.
  • Either end off or come up where you need to, to attach the next bead using the same method of sliding back between the strands.

As mentioned, this is particularly useful for attaching bugle beads.  You will make the stitch only as long as it needs to be.