Bead Embroidery.

Q: I am taking a class this weekend on embroidering 'Ultra Suede' with beads and I am to come with some ideas of what I would like to construct and design. Now I don't have to worry about frames, because I have lots of vintage ones, the problem I have is that I can't figure out what I am going to embroider.

A: If you have access to a library, go and check out 'Threads' magazine back issues. 'Threads' is published by 'Taunton Publishers'. I know for certain that they had some lovely purses covered in their magaizine. In case you are unfamiliar with 'Threads', it's a high end sewing/textile magazine that runs features on a host of subjects. Typically, the articles are great resources for ideas and techniques! If you haven't decided yet, how about going to your closest fabric store & wandering among the bolts of material; there are paisleys, florals, geometrics (never say 'no' 'til you look) - all sorts of designs that can be adapted to bead emboroidery. You could then convert the pattern to a grid if you're more comfortable with that - I'd just stabelize the top fabric - ultrasuede in your case - without a hoop. 'Ultrasuede', in my experience of 'a few' projects, doesn't take compressing such as a hoop would do without permanent damage. I know there are always people who say they can get dents out of that fabric, but my work philosophy is: if a problem can be avoided - avoid it! One more suggestion about the design: Don't cross every 't' or dot all 'i's, just block out the area you want covered with chalk pencil & START IN THE MIDDLE. Believe me when I say you will avoid a lot of grief with this 2 part suggestion. A friend of mine in Kansas City started a website called "Reflections Of You" - it has some of my beaded work & jewelry (which I am glad because most of it's sold) & a bunch of other beaders- try it. May I suggest that you don't work directly on the 'UltraSuede'. Use a ground "fabric" such as Pellon interfacing ( a medium to heavy weight is good -- watch out and don't use the stitch and tear kind or the fuseable stuff) or bead "card" which is now available. Then glue or stitch (Or both) to the backing fabric. You can draw the design right on the Pellon or card with a felt tip pen. Use a hoop or stretcher bars to get the tautness needed for good bead embroidery. Ann Benson has a good book out which is about half bead embroidery and has some great ideas. I also sometimes scan the beaded stuff at ebay to give me ideas. Do a search on "beaded" -- be aware that you will come up with hundreds of items -- But I almost always find something to inspire me. My web site also has a number of pieces of bead embroidery (listed under Card Beading). including full instructions for a small piece.