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$ $ $ $ $
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• • • •
Time
40h00

A dress within a dress...
This is a step by step tutorial on hand sewing 3D embellishments onto clothing - in this case a dress made up of mini figures wearing their own dresses and jewelry. This was probably my most ambitious sewing project to date. Though I can't lie and say this is something you can whip up quickly, the time and effort I put into this piece gave me a true appreciation for the attention to detail on the vintage I love so much!

Posted by Kara S. Published
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  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 1
    Step 1

    Start with the dress you want to embellish - This can be either one you bought or made yourself. In this tutorial, I'll show you how I embellished a border print fabric made up of dancing couples. I opted to make my dress out from Retro Butterick B5708 from several different printed fabrics. I had a LOT of trouble with this pattern. Although this tutorial will focus on the embellishments and not the dressmaking, you can see the step by step on where I bought the fabric and how I made the dress and adjusted the pattern on this blog post: http://www.thedressedaesthetic.com/counterdanse/

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 2
    Step 2

    To get started with embellishing, gather your materials. You will need sewing needles and thread, seed beads, 3mm silk ribbon, adhesive rhinestone and pearls, and fabric glue. Optional materials include toothpicks, a disposable plate, and a pointed blade. I also found Fray Stoppa to be incredibly helpful in ensuring my fabric and ribbons didn't fray!

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 3
    Step 3

    I started by making miniature skirts for my dancers to 'wear'. For these skirts, cut small rectangles of sheer mauve silk chiffon that are slightly wider and longer than the skirt on the dancer.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 4
    Step 4

    On either side of the rectangle, sew a hem, using a hand-rolled hem technique. For this, you fold over the edge of the hem and, holding the fold with one hand, you catch a stitch just under the fold, then run your needle through the top fold (one layer only), and catch again at the bottom of the fold, creating a series of U-shapes. You then pull the thread gently every so often too roll the fabric, and continue on along the whole hem.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 5
    Step 5

    On one side, pull the thread tight, so that it ruches the top of the "skirt" into a series of folds. Then, hand-stitch the skirt onto the dancer at the top and sides. Don't sew the 'skirt' down at the bottom, which gives it the 3D effect, as if she's wearing the skirt.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 6
    Step 6

    Next, add rhinestones and pearls to create necklaces, earrings, and tiaras onto your dancers. On a disposable plate, put a small bead of the glue. Working quickly (as this stuff isn't joking about it's "quick dry" properties), dab a toothpick into the glue and dot it onto the fabric where you will place the rhinestone.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 7
    Step 7

    I found it much easier to remove the rhinestone with a scalpel, and place use it it onto the bead of glue I had just added onto the fabric, though it would work just as easily with a knife or anything that comes to a point. Repeat this across the figure, until the "necklace" is complete. Use this same technique to create earnings, bracelets, and tiaras as desired!

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 8
    Step 8

    Next, add pink ribbon to her feet, to give the appearance of being laced up her legs. Cut tiny pieces of the pink ribbon and put Fray Stoppa on each end. Then, hand stitch the ribbon to her leg, using tiny, tight backstitches. Bring the ribbon to the other side of her leg and folded it over, once again stitching it in place.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 9
    Step 9

    Make a series of tiny bows from the pink silk ribbon. Cut the ends and dip each in Fray Stoppa.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 10
    Step 10

    Then, using the fabric glue, glue a bow onto each of her feet, and secure with a few stitches through the center of the bow to keep everything together, completing the ankle ribbon effect.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 11
    Step 11

    Next, attach a cream ribbon detail to her sleeves. Cut and hand stitch three small pieces of ribbon to the bottom portion each sleeve. Then, twist the ribbon once and hand stitch each to the top of the sleeve to give it a puffed effect. Trim the ribbon right to the edge and added a dab of Fray Stoppa.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 12
    Step 12

    Next, use the seed beads to create flowers out of beads. With the hand needles (the thin, 'straws' work best), simply use one bead per stitch, and follow the flower print.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 13
    Step 13

    You can pretty much bead to your hearts content, alternating colors. In this dress, I opted to give one of my dancers a flower crown as well.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 14
    Step 14

    For one gentleman, stitch two small buttons to the back of his tailed jacket. I used collar buttons (the smallest I could find) to keep things to scale as much as possible.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 15
    Step 15

    For the other gentleman, I wanted to give him a 3D handkerchief. To do this, draw a square onto a small swatch of silk habotai using the Fray Stoppa (with a disposable plate underneath to protect the table). After it dries, cut a series of triangles, making sure to keep your cuts inside of the Fray Stoppa.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 16
    Step 16

    Fold over the top edge of each triangle, and fold under the upper right corner.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 17
    Step 17

    Place this onto the fabric and, using a ladder stitch, secure it in place.

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 18
    Step 18

    You can then add minor additional touches - like a few beads to the men's trousers as buttons and adding a tiny pearl to their waistcoats. It's really up you your imagination (and patience!)

  • How to bead a beaded dress. The Counterdanse - Step 19
    Step 19

    Wear and collect the compliments!

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