Friday, August 10, 2018

How to Make Fall Flame Rope Longer in Beautiful Proportion

If you own my Fall Flame Rope tutorial, I have a little gift for you.  A client asked for help with how to make her rope 22" long and some hours later...

The easiest approach to adding length to the Fall Flame Necklace would be to use extender chain. The rope core in the kit comes with a 3” chain, giving you 24” total length, counting the clasp. 

Second easiest would be to use the chart given for balance marking the necklace as it was written, and simply add more of the first color between the clasp and the first balance mark. Much of that color is behind the neck, and probably as the neck size increases, more of it would be hidden behind you anyway.

But if you want to proportionately add to each section, 
here is the best way to do that.  

Note: A chart showing the balance marks to use on the rope core for each size, (instead of the instructions given on Page 28 in your tutorial) follows my text.

Make sure the core you use is 3.5 - 4mm in diameter to keep the gauge consistent. It could be leather, paracord, or any supple core. You’ll need to devise your own clasp.

Below are the increases for a 19, 20, 21 and 22 inch rope.

19” Rope
On the first side of the rope - Repeat Rows 15 and 16 in the First, Second, Third, and
Fourth Gradations.
On the second side of the rope - Repeat Rows 19 and 20 in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and
Eighth Gradations.
This adds 1/8” to each of the four gradations on each side. and 1” total length.

20” Rope
On the first side of the rope - Repeat Rows 15 and 16 and Rows 31 and 32 in the First,
Second, Third, and Fourth Gradations.
On the second side of the rope - Repeat Rows 1 and 2 and 19 and 20 in the Fifth, Sixth,
Seventh and Eighth Gradations.
This adds 1/4” to each of the four gradations on each side, and 2” total length.

21” Rope
On the first side of the rope - Repeat Rows 7 and 8, Rows 15 and 16, and Rows 23 and 24,
in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Gradations.
On the second side of the rope - Repeat Rows 11 and 12, Rows 19 and 20 , and Rows 27
and 28, in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Gradations.
This adds 3/8” to each of the four gradations on each side, and 3” total length.

22” Rope
On the first side of the rope - Repeat Rows 7 and 8, Rows 15 and 16, Rows 23 and 24, and
Rows 31 and 32, in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Gradations.
On the second side of the rope - Repeat Rows 1 and 2, Rows 11 an 12, Rows 19 and 20 ,
and Rows 27 and 28, in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Gradations.
This adds 1/2” to each of the four gradations on each side, and 4” total length.

And here are the balance mark charts.  

Although it may SEEM that this will not expand the center section and the first and last sections, it does.  The gradations on either side of those sections are expanding, and therefore, the center and ends expand as well. 

Further expansion can be done with an extender chain if desired.  Keep in mind that although the rope length is given, the finished necklace will include the length of a clasp.

This information has also been added to the available downloads for both the complete tutorial and the rope only tutorial.  You should be able to download if from your purchase receipt, but if you want this, and can't get it via download, I can help.  Contact me through Etsy Convo, preferably from your purchase receipt and give me you e-mail address and I will send it along.

The math was excruciating, although very logical once complete, lol.  

Vintage Jasper

Well, I still have work to do, but tomorrow at noon CST, I will release the kits for my new project, Vintage Jasper.  I want to use this post to just quickly introduce you to the two colorways, and the 14 available cabochon sets.  You get to choose your own.  You might want time to think about it.

Here is a quick peek at the two colorways.  You will also notice that it is possible to put either one or two links between the large cabochon and the smaller ones.  If you are taller and plan to make a longer necklace (the kit accommodates up to 22") you might prefer two links, and if you are shorter like me, one link might be your choice.  Both are given in the tutorial, and a chart for number of links needed for sizes 17" -  22" are given.  FYI, I have to double check all my numbers and calculations, but I think these kits will be $75. Actually... $73.  Here's a link. 

So without further ado, here are the yummy Red Creek Jasper cabochon sets for your perusal!  You'll notice I used a GemDuo with color variation and hints of warmth in the Heirloom Silver group, with a link to those here. And the bezel is my favorite of all the Aiko colors.  It's called Oceanic Metallic, and is a mix of silvers, with bits of gold and dots of copper.  Here's a closeup for reference. The bezel embellishment really adds color and merges the cabs with the GemDuos.

I did the same with the GemDuos in the Antique Bronze group, and some are almost coppery.  Again, for reference, here is a closeup.  The bezel is simple Bronze Metallic, because most of these cabs have dramatic patterning and I did not want to distract.  Here's a link for the kits.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Month Off, Semi-Retirement, and a New Project

I turned 65 last month.  I got my Medicare card.  It felt momentous.  Much more so than my birthday itself, which was very nice.  But after a while, they begin to feel redundant, lol.

SO...  the bigger news is I took July off entirely from my ballroom costume business.  I managed to leave a huge and tangled mess in my studio, which it will be today's task to unravel.

Yup, about half the mess is beads. I have not wanted to be in the studio, so I have just carried beads down and dumped them.  I've been re-working my storage... and some decisions need to be made.


I have a new project, with jasper and a lovely antique-y feel. It should be ready for release next weekend, if all goes well.  Here's the original prototype, which I have been re-vamping. No one but me likes orange, so I will not be using the matte copper.  I find when I am working out a new idea, I am best served by using things I love.  :D  Although I chose the weakest of the cabochon sets, saving the best ones for you!

And below is one configuration I have illustrated, and one of the colorways I will kit.

You'll notice I moved the upper cabs one link further away from the focal.  I am a smallish person, and rarely wear a necklace longer than 18".  But for taller women, it might be nice to be able to spread and lengthen the design. (I like this version on my smaller body too, lol, I can pretend I am taller with impunity!) So I will explain both in the tutorial.  I also rounded the edges of the rectangle embellishment, to better sync with the upper cabs which have rounded edges to begin with.  I also lightened and lengthened the bottom of the focal, which felt a little weighty to me, and I have another finial attachment I am going to try for the bronze colorway, and if I like it, I'll include that choice in the pattern as well.  I'll kit so the necklace could be almost any length up to 22"

Although the cabochon sets are widely varied in color and pattern, I will kit them with either this silvery colorway, or a bronzy version, which I will work on today.

Here's a quick peek at the sets...

Some of them are simply spectacular in and of themselves, and the simpler, less patterned ones allow the bezel to shine.

I'm calling it "Vintage Jasper" and working toward a sense of something found in an attic trunk.  I think the rectangular shapes and diamond chain have a nice Deco reference, and I wanted the end result to feel like a handed-down or re-discovered heirloom.  I have kept the color soft and gently tarnished in feeling, both to aid the antique quality, and to make the piece comfortable in daily wear.  So keep your eye on my Etsy shop, and hopefully, these will be available on August 11th.

A few final words about my month off.  I loved it.  I walked off 3 pounds.  On my now 113 pound frame, that is substantial, and feels good!  It was great to work with beads without feeling the need to rush off to a costume studio deadline.  I feel substantial eyestrain with illustrating, so I am learning to pace myself and take sufficient breaks.  I have nearly got my "Garden of Shame" ready for re-planting this month, and that is a huge weight off my back, figuratively and literally.

I'm going to like retirement.  I find it suits me.  And I see room in it for beads.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Spark and Blaze

Why am I creating new colorways and kits for older projects?

Because my Fall Flame rope was included in the 13th edition of "Creative Beading" from Kalmbach.  I have been meaning to have kits available for every project in my Etsy shop, and this seemed like a nice opportunity.  (Yep, that is a preview of one of my hubbies beautiful new art tables too!)

So there are two newbies!

I've been wearing Spark on white shirts for the last few days and I just love it.  I had originally named  it "Inferno", but although it is metallic and shines like crazy, it has this summery softness that I just adore.  So, "Inferno" was somehow just too much for it, and I devolved the name to Spark.  We are both happier, LOL.

Eight kits are available in my Etsy shop here:  (oops, they sold out, but I will have more next weekend!)

While I worked on these new colorways, I also re-colored all the leaf illustrations in the tutorial, to move the colors further apart visually from each other, and make the diagrams easier to read at a glance.  If you have purchased this tutorial, and want the new version, you should be able to get that from your Etsy receipt. If not, convo me and I can e-mail you a copy. If you are just now buying the pattern, the updates are included, along with the materials lists for both new colorways.  Find it here:

Which brings up the other new colorway!  Meet "Blaze".

I have not worn "Blaze" yet, because it just screams AUTUMN.  I want to wear it with black corduroy, and tweedy wool.  It's July, and hot outside, but in a couple months, I know this will be my go-to piece.  Find this kit here:

While I was at it, I re-kitted my favorite from the original group of colorways, "Psychedelic Scarab".  For me, this one is a year-round piece and I hope you will find a general purpose place for it in your wardrobe too.

The colors came from the pretty little Swarovski Scarab bead that sits on the bail.  I think it looks both the iridescent beetle and peacock-esque, and I love it with all deep cool colors.

You can find it here:

HUGE thanks to my sweet friend Ann, who came to help me label and fill baggies for this project in the midst of preparing for the Minneapolis Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour, which I am going to see this morning.  She was cool as a cucumber with this big event approaching and is always a huge help to my kitting process.

If you are a Minneapolitan, here is a link to the event taking place TODAY!  
Maybe I'll see you in a beautiful garden!

I promise to ship kits as soon as I get home.  :)

I have not forgotten I promised a new video with Bead Embroidery tips and techniques, and that is up next along with a new set of bags...
Plus a beautiful new Fall Jasper piece and a Holiday Rose Bud necklace, coming soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blue Morpho

I have a new offering today in the beaded silk butterfly bag series.  I'm calling it Blue Morpho.  It creatively represents a female of the species, with a really yummy color gradation from the palest turquoise to a deep and rich cobalt, accented with black and white edging.

One of my sweet buyers asked some questions yesterday about the project, and I want to answer them in detail here, for everyone.

I will release the bag and bead kit together, in one listing, and here is a link for you.

First, some bag information.  This bag was produced in two sizes.  Each piece of this quilted silk fabric varies in terms on how large the quilted squares are, from under an 7/8" to 1-1/8" and multiplied by 8 squares, you can see how large a difference that makes.  It also affects how many bags can be cut from a width of fabric.

Consequently, there are 10 bags available, and seven are about 9 x 6 x 2.25" and three are 8 x 6 x 2.25".  So you can choose your preference.  These bags are essential light capacity, and comfortably hold my wallet, big cell phone, sunglasses, keys, and lip gloss.  They are really not suited for carrying much more, although I have added a little packet of tissue and some tubes of beads at various times.

The bead kit includes a spool of black One-G thread this time, and I stitched half of my sample all in black which looks no different from the side where I carefully matched colors.   Below is a snap of the assembled kit, and the entire bead list.

Then, there were some questions about the tutorial.  Like, if you already own one of the other project tutorials, so you need this one too? Again, here is a link for you.

I have tried very hard to make this project easy and painless.  I have done many samples and ripped repeatedly to get my own results, and I have tried to show you what I figured out in a simple to understand way.  Do I think you NEED each tutorial?  No, but I know for a fact that it is lots easier with these guides.  So I am putting in chunks of two pages from the tutorial for you here, so you can judge for yourself. They are .png files and a little fuzzy in this format, but you get the idea.

SO you can judge for yourself, whether you wish to purchase the $10 tutorial.  The bag is priced at $47, and the kit at $18, combining to $65, and if your purchase the tutorial, the total bag price is $75.

I don't know if I will do another series of these bags or not.  I have fabric, but I also have another interesting idea that combines fiber and beads, and may pursue it next.

Watch for a new quickie video from me, in the next blog post, and on YouTube.  I tie off really frequently when doing bead embroidery.  I know may beaders carry threads a long way across the back of their BE, but in this case, since there is no glued backing, and minimal support for the embroidery, I recommend you tie off frequently and not carry your thread more than a quarter inch.

SO, I want to show you how to tie a professional dressmakers knot, which is super fast and stable.  It also makes it really easy to remove a row or small section you might wish to change or improve, with out jeopardizing the stability of neighboring work.  A nice technique for your collection.

In the mean time, back I go, to finish off the last 4 bag linings.  I'll release these 10 kits around noon today.

Happy beading!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sunset Butterflies

I learned SO much last week, when I published my first group of Silk Butterfly Bags!  Today I am posting what is left, four "Sunset Butterflies" bags.  I have made things simpler for both you and me.

I will publish a kit of beads with each bag, combining the costs of the bag at $47, and the kits around $18, so there is just one listing to buy to get both things needed to make the bag.  This kit of Bag and Beads costs $65.00.  Here is a link to that listing.  And here is what the butterflies look like in my samples, fully embroidered.

They sit up beautifully off the quilted silk surface, and I find the black outline makes them pop! 

This is a different bag, but, I have loved wearing it this week!

I am also creating a simple photographic tutorial for each bag variation.  It includes diagrams of the bead embroidery stitches I use in each applique cover, and a photographic progression of the process, from outlining to finishing the lining on the back of the embroidered flap

Because the project is about painting with color, there are SO many different beads in each kit!  Trust me when I tell you the kit is a TOTAL bargain.  It comes packed inside your bag so there is just one easy shipping fee.

If you count all the different sizes and finishes of the black beads, plus the firepolish and drops, there are 22 different beads in this kit.  You absolutely could not buy them for $18!

SO if you are interested in this project, and want one of these bags, there are just four available today, in a much simplified format.  And up next, maybe in two weeks or so, some Silver Silk Bags! 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Butterfly Bags Released into the World

I will release the Butterfly Bags I have made today around noon or 1pm, depending on how fast I can finish writing all the listings and this blog post.  It's COMPLICATED!  And you will have to make choices and I want you to be informed.  This is an easier, more pictorial way to show you what is being offered.

First, I want to show you my sample, using Applique A.  It's not a great applique, because the sides are not perfectly symmetrical. All the other are perfectly symmetrical. I have been hunting butterfly fabric for a year for this project!  I think the primary purpose of having an applique to bead is for inspiration, easy filling, and symmetry.  If you choose this applique, you will need to be sensitive to the lower wing area and make the two sides as similar as possible.

Having said all that, I want you to see my process.  I have a tutorial, for a slightly different Monarch without the pearls, but the possibilities are endless, and I want to give you a sense of how to make choices and move forward.  I think the tutorial is a good buy in terms of guidance in the process, even if you choose a different applique, like this one.

Here's the applique. Notice the flaws with me.  The upper wings are great, but they sit behind the lower wings, and on real butterflies the opposite is true.  Also the lower right wing in larger than the lower left, and patterned differently.  I did my best to ignore the stuff I didn't like as I started beading.

The first step with EVERY bag is to cover the body.  I like large matte black beads for this purpose.  Then the edges are outlined, to mask and protect the stitched and fused raw edge.  When that is done, the fill can begin.  I like to start with wing borders, and use a 3mm pearl and 8/0 matte black on the bottom, with more sizes on the top.  See how I corrected which wing lay over which? I didn't care for the green tones at the bottom of the butterfly and wanted to add a touch of pink and purple at the top, so you can see the start of that here.  Always work do what you do on one side to the other side before moving on, to help with symmetry,

Next, I added veins to the upper wings, with matte 15/0.  

Sharp contrast veining is really pretty, but if your applique is small, you need to skip the veining and just do directional filling, to indicate the sections of wing.   See what I mean on the previous post, called  "A Happy Little Bag" where I did no veining, but you can still see the shapes.

Here I have begun filling the upper wing, Notice how I do a section at a time on each side

Upper wings are finished, and I am ready to vein the lower wings.

I am using both 11/0 and 15/0 beads to do my fill.  I am careful not to overfill.  There can be small spaces between beads and they will not be noticed.  The fabric below is in deep shadow, and no one will think about what is down there except you with your magnifiers on, holding the fabric 6" from your nose.  RELAX.  Small gaps are fine, and too many beads is bad.

I added a little bead at most of the intersections of the quilting, to give it depth, but I avoided the two at the top of the wing, knowing they would mess with the nice clean outline.

Here is my recommendation for you.  Maybe just buy one bag.  I really want everyone who wants to try this to have a chance to do it.  You can only do one at a time, and I really will do more.  The next set will be silvery silk, and I have a pale green and rich bronze planned too,  And I will come back for more gold as well, if there is sufficient interest.  

Here's a link to the bags, and you can choose your favorite applique. 

Here's a link to the tutorial, helpful whether you plan to make one of these two options, or "bead by number on a different applique.

And here is a link for the monarch kit I have available.  If you want the Fantasy Butterfly, or possible beads for one of the other appliques, ask me.  I can probably help you.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Happy Little Bag

I am close to releasing the first set of Butterfly Bag bead embroidery projects and tutorials! If all goes according to plan, I will post a few of them next weekend in my Etsy shop.  

Carl walked past my bench yesterday as I was finishing up my original sample and said, "That's a Happy Little Bag!"  I loved the Bob Ross reference, and so this sample has a name!

Making this little bag, helped me figure out what might constitute a good size, shape, and expedited construction.  I carried it around with me over the last couple weeks, unfinished, just to test how it worked and felt, and I have made several design improvements as I worked my way along.

This idea grew out of wanting to pass along something I have enjoyed in the past.  I began using fabric applique about 10 years ago in my dancewear, and the idea translated really well to bead embroidery.

A little history...   Among of my first projects along this line was my "Falling" vest.  If you want to read more about this project, you can do that here

And after this, I made my Urban Safari Coat, again done with applique, and the same yummy quilted Dupioni Silk.  This was a competition piece for Battle of the Beadsmith, and if you like, your can find more pictures here, and read about the construction and beading process here.

I have to confess, the idea of creating clothing in all sizes imaginable was overwhelming.  So instead I decided upon a "wearable" handbag to serve as my offering to you to try out this technique.

I am planning a release for next weekend (June 19-20),  and will continue to make these for a while, as long as there in interest, I have stamina, and until I use up the fabric I have for the purpose.  I have gold, silver, and limited bronze and celadon silk.

First release will be bags made up in gold silk, with the two versions of the tutorial.  One will include instructions and approximate charts for two options, a Monarch butterfly and a Fantasy butterfly, based on the applique.

Here is my sample for these two options, and I will assemble kits for these.

There will also be a couple different applique options, and a minimal guide tutorial for those who are experienced bead embroiderers and would like to try filling the printed lines with beads of their choosing. You are also free to add anything else of your want; flowers, scrollwork, or filling the ditch in the quilted fabric with beads as below.

So if you enjoy bead embroidery, or are interested in a gateway to the craft,
stay tuned for a more detailed blogpost, and keep an eye on my Etsy shop next weekend!