Monday, January 25, 2010

What Size Beads for What Size Lingerie Canvas?

Yesterday I noticed that Judy Harper recommends size 14 beads for 18 count needlepoint canvas and size 11 beads for 13 count.  She's got several examples on her blog of lovely beaded effects using the skip tent method of beading and varying whether she uses sparkly or less sparkly beads.

Her recommendation much matches what Fireside Stitchery used to post on their website:
18 count canvas:  14/0 or 1.25mm
13-14 count canvas:  11/0 or 1.33mm
12 count canvas:  10/0 or 1.35mm
10 count canvas: 8/0 or 6/0;  3-3.5mm
7 count plastic canvas: 5/0 or 4mm

Remember that bead sizes are written either 11 or 11/0--it's the same thing--and that the smaller the number, the larger the bead.  (Judy also points out that the term "seed beads" can mean any size.  A seed bead isn't always a tiny bead.)

So how come I'm using size 11 beads on size 18 needlepoint canvas?  Easy!  The totally clear beads I want to use don't come in size 14.  So I have to use a bead a little larger than I should.  Besides, I've noticed that the shape of the bead also effects what size bead fits what size canvas.  My Miyuki beads are also size 11 but they are smaller than the round size 11 Sundance beads.  Their shape is a cylinder so they fit together better on the 18 count canvas than my other size 11 beads which are rounded.  The Miyuki beads are't much larger than my Sundance size 14 hex beads!

In other words, depending on the effect you want, you don't have to stick to the recommended sizes.  Of course if you plan to completely cover a canvas like I'm doing, you probably wouldn't want beads much larger than one size above the recommended one.  But beads vary A LOT, so you have a little leeway on what you do. 

If you want to put a bead at the end of a coil of DMC memory thread to make a hat ornament, it probably doesn't matter what size it is as long as it looks good with the design.  In the photo above, the belt buckle is covered with rows of size 14 beads, and the belt area to the right of the buckle is covered with size 11 beads.  You can see the sizes are pretty similar.

In the photo above you see one leg of the tap pants iced over with beads.  The black area near the crotch has a missing bead because I didn't get them packed in tightly enough.  I'll go back and add that later.

I started out adding beads in horizontal rows, sort of like doing continental tent stitches.  I normally work from the top down but rapidly discovered that this hides the bead hole I should go down in.  So I have changed my working method to beading from the bottom of an area up.  This makes it easier for me to see where things go, especially if I start my stitch at the top and go down in the hole nearest the row of beads under where I am working.

I worked most of the leg this way and then realized it was even easier to work beads on the diagonal like basketweave.  So I am now working on the other leg from the bottom up along diagonal rows, switching thread colors when I move to another area in my stitching path.

I'm still using one ply of DMC cotton floss and going through each bead twice.  When I finish this canvas and move to the bra canvas, I'll try doubling my thread in the needle and attaching each bead in two passes--one through the bead and the second with a thread on either side to hold the bead steady.  I want to compare how easy the two methods are before I make a recommendation.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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  1. I was always told to use the two thread/two pass method to lock the beads in place. Otherwise, if you are going to hang the piece, over time you will get sagging of the beads.

  2. This looks great! I knew it would. BTW, I use a double strand and go through once and split the threads all the time. It "sets" the bead and holds it better...imho.

  3. Thanks for the tips about the double beads. We'll see what I think when I get to the bra and change my strategy for attaching beads.

  4. I'm just now seeing this a year later. I always work on the diagonal - I worked these things out by trial and error. Also, I use only SUNDANCE beads, as they are consistent in size. They never vary. Also, they have the #250 clear in both sizes (14 and 11) in both smooth and hexagonal glitter.

  5. I'm glad you found this, Judy. Your input as my NP Beads Guru is always greatly appreciated.