How to Do Beading & Embroidery

By F.R.R. Mallory ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Fabric
  • Buckram
  • Pattern
  • Embroidery frame
  • Embroidery floss
  • No. 12 needle
  • Beading needles
  • Beading thread
  • Beads
Beaded embroidery

Embroidery is a way to decorate fabric by adding designs made of an arrangement of stitches. Several stitches are used to enhance the appearance or suggest details. When beads are added, they tend to dominate the embroidery because of their size and placement above the stitches. The nature of the bead also reduces the type of stitches used since the fine stitch details may no longer be visible. In addition, the fabric must be heavier to carry the weight of the beads.

Reinforce the stability of the fabric, if needed, by adding buckram to the back side.

Trace a design onto the fabric and insert the fabric in an embroidery frame or hoop. Stretch the fabric taut and tighten the frame.

Embroider the fabric in areas where beads will not be added. This is common with wedding dress designs where there is both embroidery and beading. Embroider the areas that will take beading but detail only the stitches that will remain visible.

Bead using two beading needles and beading thread. Knot the end of the thread. Pull the needle and thread from the back to the front of the fabric. Knot and thread the second needle and bring it up 1/32 of an inch along the beaded line. Pick up the beads you will use in your first line.

Lay the beads along the bead line. Cross your second needle over your beads, between bead 1 and 2, staying close to the bead line, and thread the needle to the back of the fabric and back up next to the gap between bead 2 and 3. Cross your needle over your beads, down and back up again. The second needle wraps around the beading thread between each bead. When done correctly there will appear to be no space between the beads in a line. As you go around curves, the space between beads will open a bit.


Beads can be threaded onto embroidery stitches, but more than three to five beads on a string (one stitch) makes the beading vulnerable to catching on things and spilling the beads. Use the bead shapes to mimic embroidery stitch arrangements but sew your beads down.

About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.