How to Sew Beads on Clothing

beads image by Gina Smith from

Things You'll Need

  • Design template
  • Washable fabric marker
  • Beading needle
  • Waxed beading thread
  • Fabric glue

Enhance a plain sweater or shirt by embellishing it with a beaded design. It’s simple to sew beads on clothing, even if you are a beginner with little or no sewing expertise. If you can thread a needle and follow an outline, you can add color and design to any clothing item. Select beads for the design from glass, wood, ceramic or plastic to complement the colors in the clothing fabric.

Place the clothing item on a flat work surface with the area where you plan to sew the beads facing up. Place the design template on top of the fabric. Design templates can be stencils from the craft store or cutouts from magazines, coloring books or other images.

Trace the outline of the design onto the clothing with a washable fabric marker.

Thread a beading needle with 3 feet of waxed beading thread. Pull the thread between 12 and 20 inches through the eye of the needle. This is the tail and will gradually become the working thread as you sew the beads. The working thread is the longest thread dangling from the needle. Tie a double overhand knot in the end of the working thread.

Insert the beading needle up through the clothing fabric from the back to the front along one point in the design outline. The knot at the end of the thread acts as a stopper for the thread. Pull the needle until the knot touches the fabric.

Thread a bead over the needle. Slide it over the thread to touch the clothing fabric. Hold the bead onto the outline of the design. Reinsert the needle back down into the clothing fabric directly beside the bead. Pull the thread taut.

Insert the beading needle back up through the clothing fabric along the outline of the design. Thread another bead over the needle. Hold the needle to the fabric and reinsert the needle back down to stitch the bead in place.

Continue to stitch the beads in place along the outline of the design. Knot the thread on the underside of the clothing after stitching the last bead.

Cover the knots on the underside of the clothing with fabric glue. Let the glue dry. When you wash the garment, the washable marker outlines will disappear.



About the Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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