My absolute favourite way to embellish lingerie is with bead drops. Don't get me wrong, I love a sweet little bow or a quirky button too but it's the way the little collection of crystal beads reflect the light that makes me think this is the perfect finishing touch to any lovingly made lingerie.
In my small town we are lucky enough to have a beautiful little shop solely dedicated to beads. It's pretty unassuming. Halfway down the main street there's a turquoise door, sitting simply between two other shop frontages. Upon entering you are faced with a narrow, steep staircase. It's a little gloomy. You climb the stairs, turn the corner and walk through another door to suddenly find yourself in a magical kingdom of colour and sparkle. It's a bit like entering Narnia only thankfully, instead of the evil White Queen there is the lovely and always smiling, Queen Bead.
I talked the the Queen Bead about how I could make her lovely crystal beads available to other lingerie sewists to use as embellishments and so she helped me hand pick six colour selections to turn into kits. These kits contain quality Swarovski Crystals and Miyuki seed beads along with strong waxed nylon beadstring so you know your lovely crystal bead drop will last as long as your lingerie.
The colour selections are: (left to right, top to bottom) Mint Alabaster, Jet, Ruby, Crystal, Crystal AB and Vintage Rose. These will suit a wide variety of lingerie colours, especially the Crystal AB as it reflects the colours near it.
Tutorial ~ How to attach your bead drop
- A selection of Swarovski crystals and Miyuki seed beads, enough to embellish both a bra and brief set.
- Waxed nylon beadstring
- 2 lengths of ribbon to create bows
You'll also need: A fine sewing needle (a bead needle is nice to have but not necessary) A mat or piece of fabric to work on to stop the beads from escaping (pictured in the background is a bead mat)
1. Decide on your arrangement of beads for both the bra and briefs. The shop listing contains a photo example for each colourway but of course you can design yours however you like. It looks best if the bead drop on the briefs is a smaller arrangement than the one on the bra. I like to start with a seed bead (or two) and you must always end with a seed bead as an anchor. You can also end with 3 seed beads and create a 'picot' as I have in this example.
2. Create a ribbon backdrop. This step is completely optional but I think the ribbon bow sets off the bead drop nicely. Take a length of ribbon and fold the two ends in towards the centre back - these ends should overlap so your stitches can secure all layers. You can fuss with this to make the size bow that suits your bra better - the more you overlap the smaller your bow will be.
3. Secure your ribbon bow. (I used a black ribbon and polyester thread in this instance as it suited my bra better but you may use the ribbon and beadstring provided.) Hand sew your ribbon bow to the centre of the bra (or briefs) snip the polyester thread or if you used beadstring then leave it attached.
4. If you used your bead string to attach your bow then you have already done this step. If not, get a length of bead string (about half of what is provided) and make a few anchor stitches in the centre of the bow to secure the bead string.
5. Pick up the beads. This is easier done by picking them up directly using the needle rather than trying to thread them on by hand. Pick them up in the order of top bead to bottom bead.
You can see below that I have my first seed bead, followed by three crystals, followed by three seed beads to create the picot at the bottom of the drop.
6. Once you have all your beads threaded on, you'll need to thread the bead string back up through the beads. Don't thread back up through the bottom seed bead (or beads) but start at the lowest crystal. Thread right back up and through the top seed bead.
Your bead drop should now look like this...
7. Gently but firmly pull on your thread until the top of the bead drop sits hard up against the ribbon bow.
8. Make two or three stitches into the bra to anchor the bead drop in place.
9. Repeat. This is the important part to ensure your bead drop will last as long as your bra. Thread your needle and bead string back down through the top seed bead and crystals, through the bottom seed beads and back up through the crystals and top seed bead. Make two or three stitches into the bra to anchor it all and repeat one more time. So in total, the bead string has gone down and up through the bead drop three times.
10. Sew your final stitches into the bra to tie it off, cut your string and Tah-Dah! your lovely bead drop embellishment is complete. What a perfect finishing touch to your lovingly made bra. Use the remaining beads to make a bead drop for your matching briefs.