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Pearls of Wisdom

Wedding project ideas and style how-tos for brides, bridal jewelry designers and wedding planners.


 Wedding Gown Embellishment with Beads and Components 

by Laura BlackFeather, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Wedding gown designers are toying with texture--tucking, tying and twisting fabric at the waist, asymmetrically pleating hems and, of course, adding beads everywhere.

Create Your Own Artful Accents

More and more do-it-yourself brides are lining the aisles, customizing their wedding dresses with artful accents for style-on-a-budget embellishment that's stunningly simple.

Take inspiration from the large sew-on Swarovski crystals designers are using to adorn bodices ... or the cultured freshwater pearls and sequins that are spotlighting neck and backlines ... or the dreamy, weightless gowns lightly dusted with crystal clear Swarovski bicone beads.

If you've been contemplating adding a little extra sparkle and sheen to your wedding gown, here are a few tips to save you time and money.

Top 10 Tips for Embellishing Your Wedding Gown
  • The embellishments should add to, not take away from, your dress (less is more).
  • If lining the top edge of a strapless gown with beads and sequins, leave a generous space under the arm to avoid chafing skin or tearing the beads.
  • Double stitch beads onto fabric for extra hold and lasting durability.
  • Knot each bead into place, tying onto the back of the fabric, so only one bead will be lost if the thread breaks. For heavy beads, glue the knots after tying.
  • Always buy more beads than what you think you'll use. It's better to have too many than too little, especially if the beads are limited stock or a special buy, and you'll have them on hand for future designs.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time. Order beads early so you can exchange, if necessary, and have enough time to practice your stitching.
  • There are no mistakes, only opportunities. If you accidentally stitch something you didn't intend to, relax and see if the ''mistake'' takes you in a new direction you like even better.
  • Use the seams of the dress as your guide, stitching rows of beads vertically or horizontally in your desired pattern.
  • Lace is ideal for embellishing, the pattern serves as a guide and the beads enhance the lace.
  • Practice stitching a variety of different patterns onto one large swatch of material (if possible, use fabric that's similar to your dress). This way you can see what patterns you like together, and you'll have an idea of how much time to allow for completing the dress.
Professional wedding-gown designer and mixed-media artist, Jamie Smedley, made her first wedding dress (for herself) sixteen years ago when she was newly engaged, and has made a successful business out of designing custom bridal wear for soon-to-be brides who want their dresses to be masterful, one-of-a-kind creations.

According to Jamie, every fabric is a canvas for beaded embellishment. One rule to follow when shopping for beads is to pair lightweight beads with lightweight fabric. Heavy material can sustain heavier beads, however the lighter the bead the better, especially if you'll be applying a lot of them.

Choose beads that are color-fast. You may wish to incorporate heirloom beads, or vintage jewelry pieces that can be modified and sewn onto your gown, for added sentimentality. Wrapped and gathered waistlines are calling for a sewn-in jeweled brooch, as are halter, off-the-shoulder and square necklines where the shoulder strap and bodice meet.

When researching pattern ideas, keep the style of your dress in mind. Choose patterns that are fitting with the cut, material and any existing embellishment. Tulle flowers are easy-to-make accents for embroidered floral-motifs. To create this ''stand-out'' style,
  • Cut several layers of tulle into petal shapes, with the petals overlapping in the center.
  • Stitch the petal layers together using cultured freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal beads.
  • Sew the completed rosettes onto the fabric, stitching through all but the top layer of tulle.
Begin embellishing at the hem of your dress and work upward. Ruffles are begging to be embellished. Stitch Swarovski crystal bicones along the edge of each tier. The natural movement of the crystal-strewn ruffles will capture the light for enchanting color play.

Bows and rosettes present beautiful opportunities for embellishing--use pearls and crystals in your wedding colors, or in darker tones of your dress, for wispy femininity and just enough contrast.

Sketch your pattern or print patterns you find online to use as your guide. Keep the tension of the fabric even and knot thread frequently. Use beading thread and beading needles for sewing beads onto fabric.

The most important thing to remember when embellishing your dress is to have FUN! Let your imagination take you to new and exciting possibilities. Search the Beads and Brides section today for inspiration.

Additional Materials

If you have a question or feedback on this Pearls of Wisdom article, or would like to share your own wedding project idea, please contact us here.

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Cell Phone Covers and Components

Calling All Brides

Calling all brides who plan on Instagramming the big day--here's how to make a phone wedding-ready. Personalize this "IT" accessory by affixing crystals, charms, cabochons and more onto a custom cell phone cover for the ultimate tech savvy style statement. This makes a great project for bridal showers and unique wedding party gifts.


Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
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