Ah, the paisley. Colorful, curved abstract figures
that delight the eye in all their myriad renditions.
The paisley is one of the most enduring motifs,
having been in constant use, in one way or another,
for more than 2000 years.
In ancient civilization, it originated as a
representation of a plant form -- the date palm, the
Tree of Life, so named because of its supply of both
food and shelter, the two main necessities of life. It
is thought that the motif itself is representative of
the tightly curled palm frond just as it begins to
grow, prized by the Babylonians as a symbol of
qPencil or pen
qTemplate (optional) for tracing paisley shapes.
q Seed beads in various sizes ~ 11\u00ba, 12\u00ba, 13\u00ba and 5\u00ba, 6\u00ba
and 8\u00ba make for nice "textural" variations; bugle beads,
pearls, sequins, etc. (I obtained the round flat sequins
from Cartwright's <http://www.ccartwright.com/index.
qWhite glue (optional for Step 6)
q Iron-on fusible adhesive (e.g., Heat-n-Bond)
qScrap of cotton fabric for backing to cover/protect/seal
many media, from stonecarving to textiles. In
Kashmir, where shawls were a man's garment, the
best shawls of fine (but limited-supply) pashmina
were so highly regarded that they were often
presented as gifts between princes. The earliest
examples of the paisley motif to appear on shawls
in India are known only from the miniature paintings
of nobles, princes and holy men during the 1600s.
In the 18th Century, the men of the British East
India Company were the first to take an interest in
the shawls, which they began to include amongst
the gifts they brought back to their womenfolk.
When introduced into Europe, the pattern was seen
as something exotic and was soon enthusiastically
copied by textile manufacturers in Britain and then
Millions of shawls were produced, in thousands
of different varieties of paisley designs, patterns
and figures. The largest producer of the shawls,
which were the principle garments to be decorated
with the motif and which remained an essential part
of a woman's wardrobe for virtually a century, was
the town of Paisley, a burgh in southwest Scotland
in Strathclyde (population 84,789 according to
Merriam-Webster). The luxury shawl industry of
Paisley spread the name and the pattern across the
The Paisley Museum was established in 1871, and
has built up an enormous collection of shawls for
display and research purposes, including the
manufacturers' original pattern books, which
contain large numbers of examples of the various
stages in producing a design for a shawl.
To create the beaded paisleys pictured above, I used a
product called Lacy's Stiff Stuff. Since these paisleys are
being made for the Handmade Motif Swap #3 that I am
hosting for CQembellishers, I wanted a flexible foundation
for the recipient's ease in attaching to their respective Crazy
Quilt blocks, or for any other embellishment use they should
through the whole row of beads.(See Illustration 3) The
continuous thread will join all the beads and make for a
smoother "set" to the beads.
center, setting each row close to the previous one to prevent gaps. (When using sequins, small gaps will be inevitable, so don't be too fussy.)
fill the center (or any area) with beads. This is called,
appropriately enough, filling. You can sew on several beads
at a time or you may decide to lay down a string of beads and
couch them into place.(See Illustration 5)
Do not pack your beads too tightly or your motif will
buckle and not lay flat. Just add enough beads for the area to
be adequately filled.
As an optional step, I sometimes apply a thin layer of white glue to the back to keep my knots secure, tame any stray ends and generally secure the threads before I cut just in case I
7. If you want a more finished back to your beaded motif (to turn it into a pin or some other piece of wearable), I use the following method:
While the glue is drying, prepare the fabric backing and
fusible adhesive. Using your template, trace the shape onto 1)
the scrap piece of cotton fabric and 2) the Heat-n-Bond
In the beginning of my card-beading phase (back in 1995), I used index cards or manila folders for the foundation. I then preferred covering index cards with Contac\u2122 paper so that they held up better from all the needle perforations. This also had the added benefit of protecting my traced design and not rubbing off before I finished.
Other suitable materials for this method of beading could
include: Pellon's #50 stabilizer, heavy nonwoven interfacings,
crinoline (fused to a muslin backing to prevent your knots
from pulling through the weave), felt ~ virtually anything that
has enough body to it so that it doesn't flop around while
you're trying to bead. An advantage to interfacings and felt is
that they come in light and dark versions, the latter being
useful for dark fabric backgrounds.
Anne Checker of Checkerbeads has experimented with
some different types of materials. You can view her results at
fusible. Trim the fusible to beslightly smaller than the fabric
area. Lay the fabric right-side-up over the paper-free side of
the fusible, making sure the fabric covers all the fusible. Press
firmly with a medium-hot iron.
Place your beaded motif face down on a fluffy towel.
Remove the paper backing on your fused fabric shape, and
place the fabric shape over the beaded piece. Press firmly
with a medium-hot iron.
9. Trim as necessary using small, sharp scissors. I
sometimes run a thin bead of white glue around the cut edge
to seal the edges.
I like to trace template shapes on paper and play with possible bead and thread options. A peek at some of my sketches is included below.
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