Saturday, September 15, 2012

QED Extraordinaire - Guest Blogger Gene Black!

Today is Quilty Embellishment Day (QED) for September and I have a special treat for you all! Gene Black from  Gene Black an Alabama Artist and Quilter blog is my guest. Gene is Mr. Embellishment. Enjoy his tutorial on quilt beading, but be sure to check out his blog for more fabulous quilt art!

It is great to be guest hosting on Color Me Quilty.   A few short months ago, I started making small art quilts that combine machine decorative stitches, couched threads  and handwork.  I saw Carol Ann Waugh doing a demonstration on The Quilt Show and I loved it.    Of course I took her ideas and adapted them to my personal style.  These quilts are all about embellishment.
My first one - Hills and Fields of Alabama
Going a step further, I decided to add some beading to the current one.  While it still is not finished, I can see that the beads are adding to the design, the texture and the sparkle. So how do  you add beads?   First of all you need to decide on the type of beads you will use.  I chose to use some seed beads that I had saved from many many years ago. You will want to have the piece quilted before beading.  It is dangerous to hit one of these little beads with your machine while quilting.
These seed beads came in a plastic tube. I also had some bugle beads that I will show you one possibility for, although they are not (yet) being used on this quilt. After you get the beads, you need to be sure that you have a needle that will go easily through the bead while threaded.  I had a beading needle that I had stuck under the label on my beads years ago.  I can't tell you the brand or the size.  I can tell you that the eye is longer and thinner. (and it was hard to thread with my old eyes.)    I checked and there are lots of beading needles that you can buy online.  A size 15 needle will fit through a seed bead. So let's get started.  I use a saucer or small plate as my bead tray.
I recommend pouring out only a few at a time as they are harder to get back into the tube than they are to get out.  Can you guess how I know this? I used a cotton thread in a neutral color, but you could use a color to match your beads or an invisible thread.  To start bury a knot (just like in quilting) close to your starting point pulling the needle up right where you want to start. Load a bead onto the needle:
It is sometimes helpful to use a finger from the other hand to "push" it onto the needle.  Then put your needle into the fabric right where you came out or a couple of threads over. The closer you get the less your stitching will show and the beads will seem to just be a part of the design.
Slide your needle through the middle layer of the quilt and bring it up where you want your next bead. carefully pull the thread and tighten the bead making sure not to let the thread knot around the bead. (Catching the thread on beads that are already sewn down is a thing you have to avoid.) Repeat for each bead.   I like to bury a knot between every 6-8 beads so that if a section breaks, all the beads won't fall off - only that small section. Also if you like beads that dangle you can use a seed bead along with a bugle bead to add dangly beads. This is done in a similar manner but once you have threaded the needle through the bugle bead then you thread on a seed bead and put the needle back through the bugle bead.
 Again put the needle back in where you exited - then guide your needle in the middle layer to where you want the next bead.
Dangle bead attached. 
After sewing on all these beads, I had a change of design plan so the ones above were removed. I re-beaded this circle  added the beads as extra "rays" between the hand stitches.
 It is important to remember that you want your embellishments to reinforce your design.  They are not just added for "bling." I hope you enjoyed learning how I add beads to an art quilt.  Thanks to Pat for inviting me to be a guest blogger. 
Thank you so much for sharing Gene!!! Don't forget to check out Gene's blog, Gene Black an Alabama Artist and Quilter!

Now it's time to link up  and show us your fabulous creations this month! Here are some guidelines

First of all what is Quilty = quilts (big or small), fabric purses, totes, pouches...pretty much stuff you make with fabric as a base!

Second, what is
Embellishment = anything that adds design interest to the piece. Examples (this is just a short list I could think of, but I know there are many more...)

Applique (raw edge or edge turned)
Embroidery (machine or hand)
Quilting (FMQ, machine, or hand)
Painting or dyeing
Trim, Lace,Beads, Fringe, Sequins, Buttons, Buckles, Zippers
etc., etc., etc!

Day = Once a month, starting on the 15th, you can link up and share! I will leave the link open for a week! You can link up to three posts that are within the last month - from August 22 to the present.

Each post you link with automatically put you in the random drawing for my giveaway. This month I have this mini applique quilt pattern.
Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog:
1. Write and publish a blog post.

2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself. 
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box. 

4. This link will stay open for a week.
5. You may link up to three posts within the past month, you must link back to this post in order to be entered to win the giveaway.  
6. By linking up and linking back you are automatically entered to win 
Color Me Quilty

Color Me Quilty!



  1. Well color me SLEEPLESS!!! Gene, I have a quilt I am finishing up the quilting on (today I hope). I need to add beads and actually spent time last night thinking about how to do it, and wasn't having much luck in figuring it out! Your post solved my problem! My quilt is not artsy, it's cutesy... beads are sprinkles on a donut! Thanks for taking the time to explain your technique.

    1. Yaay...I am glad I actually helped someone with this post!

  2. I haven't added beads to a quilt yet but have added them to name badges and smaller things. I love beads!! Thanks for the linky and YAY for the 15th of the month!!!!

  3. Yay for Gene! I love beads on anything, and don't even mind adding them for the bling. But Gene's advice to make sure they enhance the design is good!

  4. Thanks for the great explanation of adding beads!! NICE!!

  5. Thanks for the Instructions for adding beads Gene. Great info!

  6. The beading looks amazing on this piece! I've considered adding beads to a few things but ended up deciding against it. I think it's time to give it a try :)

  7. Gene's 'Fields and Hills of Alambama' is stunning. Sorry to have added 3 but the Zakka projects have all been relevant this month. You can just count me in for 1 post - I don't mind.