Beading and sewing 192Os-inspired cap-sleeves onto a high-street top for added sparkle.
By Jeanne Spaziani- as featured in making magazine.
1. Print out the sleeve pattern (p82) and cut a test sleeve from a scrap of fabric similar to what you will be using for your sleeves. Pin it to the armhole and decide if you want to change the over-the-shoulder length or to move where the sleeve finishes at the front or back armholes. Adjust the pattern piece as needed bearing in mind that there is already 1cm of seam allowance included on all edges of the pattern.
2. Cut out a pair of sleeves from your fabric. If your fabric gives more in one direction than the other, cut so the stretchier grain runs over your shoulder and down the top of your arm and the less stretchier grain is the long edge that will be sewn to the armhole. Hem the scalloped edges which will be beaded with a small hand-rolled hem (this gives better support for holding the weight of the beads than simply leaving a raw edge, even on fabrics that don’t fray).
3. All beadwork for this project should be done with your needle threaded double for strength. Waxing your thread before sewing will help it pull smoothly and be less inclined to tangle. First I sewed a row of beads along the hem, back stitching each one on individually to make a strong base for the next step of adding fringe. Spread some beads out on your felt or velveteen lined tray and use your needle to pick the beads up, rather than your fingers. You will be able to pick up a few at a time like this when you get to the fringing step and in general it speeds things up.
4. After the entire hem had beads sewn on I started my fringe working from the centre of the sleeve hem out to either side thus making sure that my fringing started off dead centre. Thread your needle, wax the thread and make a knot in the end. Slide it from behind the rolled hem to hide the knot and do a tiny backstitch to make sure the knot won’t pull out of your fabric. Slide the needle through a hem bead and begin picking up beads with the needle in your chosen pattern and sliding them onto the thread. When you reach the bottom of the fringe strand pick up one last small bead to act as an anchor, pass through it only once and then slide your needle and thread back up through all the other beads of the strand finally coming out through the top bead again. If your piece of fringe is long you may have to gently coax the beads into their proper place just below the hem beads. Keep an eye on your thread tension – too loose and you will have bare thread showing when the fringe hangs – too tight and the strands of fringe will buckle and not hang nicely.
5. Slide your needle through another bead or three of the hem row (depending on the amount of spacing you want between each strand of fringe) and thread up beads for a second strand. Keep making strands like this until you have about 15cm of thread left (less than this and you could find yourself mid-strand without enough thread to finish it). Make a couple of tiny backstitches behind the rolled hem to make it secure and knot the thread off. I generally make two knots to be on the safe side. Re-thread your needle and keep on making strands of fringe. I generally got four or five fringe strands done with each needle threading.
6. To in-fill the body of the sleeve I made hanging strands about 7cm long radiating from a central cluster. To do this I started from behind the cluster, threaded through the desired beads, anchored the end where I wanted it and slid the needle and thread back through those beads to where I started and knotted off before starting another long strand. They hang nicely like this as well as covering more ground. Every so often pick up your sleeve to see how the beads hang to check you are happy with the effect. Remember to be sure your threads are very securely backstitched and knotted at both the beginning and ends of each section. A few single scattered beads on the sleeves and a section of beading across the front neckline pulled it all together. Time and patience will dictate how far you want to carry on – beading is a bit addictive!
7. When the sleeves are complete, lap the 1cm seam allowance under the inside side of the armhole, pin and stitch in place with tiny hand stitches. I stitched mine twice –along the raw edge of the seam allowance and again just behind the armhole binding.
8. Sewing in bra strap holders (you can buy ribbon ones at most haberdashery shops) on the inside shoulder seam of your top will help keep the beaded sleeves from dragging the shoulders of your top down as the beading adds more weight than you might think.