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Other: RTW Knock Off (Beaded Top) - Type:Tops    printable version
Viewed 143 times
Review rated Very Helpful by 9 people   
Reviewed by:treefrog
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About treefrogstarstarstarstar
Member since: 2/13/08
Reviews written: 221
Sewing skills:Intermediate
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patterns reviewed: 218
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Posted on:10/20/13 9:13 PM
Project Photo:Other: RTW Knock Off by treefrog

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Fabric:Merino Knit  [See other projects in this fabric]
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Pattern Description: This is a knock-off of a beaded top I saw on the Claudia Sträter website ( link). I liked the pattern of the beading - animal print inspired - but it also reminded me of rain droplets on a window and the gaps were the water has run between them.

my version
I used my TNT t-shirt pattern as the base for the top but this review mainly covers how I did the beading.

The beading references I looked at said not to bead onto knits for your first project - good advice but I'm doing it anyway! So here are a few of the problems I came up with and how I got around them. There are probably better ways.

Fabric Used: Charcoal merino knit (it is darker than the photos show) and the beads are a light pink ( again. it doesn't come up in the photo well)

Bead first or last?:
I decided to bead the front first, then sew the T-shirt up. I tend to find that I have trouble getting a square placement of embroidery designs, especially after a garment is together. I also wasn't sure how easy it would be to keep the finished top stable for beading if it was only partially in the hoop.

The flip side of beading first is that I needed to allow enough room for the neckline seam to be serged without hitting the beads. Given the gap between the beading and neckline on the RTW top, I figured they had done the beading first. I was being cautious and could have brought the neckline in about 7mm closer.

Choice of beads.: I did a few samples with different types of beads. Initially I tried some bronze beads but they didn't stand out very well. I played around with different colours and brands that I had on hand. I ended up using silver lined Delica beads in a pale pink colour. The silver lined beads tended to stand out better on the dark background and have a bit of "bling".

My second favourite was an orange SL glass bead but were very irregular in shape and length. Being inexperience with beading I went for the more consistent Delica beads.

Transferring the design: I made a printout of the close-up photo of the beading to use as a template, then enlarged it to cover a similar area on my top and within the limits of the size of my embroidery hoop.

I found it hard to mark the pattern on the merino. I tried the prick & pounce method, the hairspray & talc trick but it didn't work. In the end, traced the pattern onto wash away stabiliser. This had the bonus of being able to mark out an even distance between the beads for me to follow.

Preventing puckers: The warning about not beading on knits was mainly because of the lack of stability in the knit, in that you could end up with a lot of puckering. Hooping the knit with a water soluble stabilizer helped keep it firm. I sprayed a basting stray to the stabiliser to help keep the layers together. This worked well as the knit stayed firm throughout the bead process. Having washed it a couple of times, there is no puckering around the beading.

There were a couple of places where I was a little heavy handed with the spray and it left a bit of gum when the stabilizer was washed out. It was fairly easy to pull out with tweezers and not as big a job as I initially thought ( taking about 10 minutes)

Setting up I cut out an oversized piece of fabric for the front and thread traced the centre front, shoulders and armholes. I didn't mark the neckline as I planned to draft the neckline once the beading was done.

thread tracing

Next I placed the marked-up stabiliser on top, matching the CF. The height of the neckline was a bit of a guess - just looking for a nice transition between the shoulder line into the top curve of the beading.

beading template


After spray basting in place, I hooped it, making sure I didn't stretch the knit in the process. I left the fabric in the hoop, without any adjustments for the two weeks it took to do the beading. I didn't end up with the ring imprinted into the fabric.

Securing the beads: Initially I planned to use a tambour needle is a really quick way of beading but I was warned that if the thread breaks you can lose a lot of beads. I tried couching the beads but it didn't look very neat seeing the thread in the gaps between the beads.. So, I used a beading needle and backstitch, knotting every 3-4 beads for extra security.

I almost used an entire vial of beads. They estimate 1400 beads in a vial and there were only 30-40 left over.

beading finished

stabiliser washed out You can see a bit of the basting spray glue between the beads.

Drafting in the neckline: I placed the original pattern back over the front piece, matching the thread tracing. Then marked the edge of the beading. From this I set a new neckline, an even 2cm from the beaded edge, and merging into the old neckline at the shoulders.

The neckband was drafted at 85% of the length of the new neckline seam.

I had toyed with the idea of lining the front, eliminating the neckband and protecting the hand-stitching. I didn't have enough of the knit to do this with the merino and a poly lining may cause static.

The top went together very easily but I really held my breath sewing the neckline. It really needed to match the curve of the beads or it would have really stood out.

finished top

Conclusion: I'm really happy with how this turned out and I learnt a lot along the way. I'd be confident to tackle another beaded project. It is a great way to dress up a T-shirt. I'd recommend giving it try.

Our weather has been flipping between winter and summer. We had snow on the mountains twice in the last couple of weeks. Murphy's Law kicked in and I sewed the top on our first 30C day. I'm hoping for just one last cold front so I can wear the top before summer really kicks in.

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11 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
annakeeton said...
Your top is gorgeous- really love the beading.
10/20/13 9:48 PM
r e n said...
I never thought about beading taking so much thinking! Wow, that's a lot of preplanning but you did get great results. (The bead pattern reminded me of ice crystals that form on windowpanes in the winter.)
10/20/13 11:54 PM
Ellenatlga said...
Gorgeous! Great work!
10/21/13 6:55 AM
Diane333 said...
I loved your beaded top. Really creative!
10/21/13 8:12 AM
Mary Gillette said...
You did a beautiful job!
10/21/13 8:14 AM
Silknmore said...
Wonderful job on this - and great tutorial. Thank you
10/21/13 10:30 AM
Danmar said...
Absolutely wonderful! Very helpful review! I hope you enjoy your new top!
10/21/13 10:44 AM
Laurie Lou said...
Oh Wow! Super cool! I love it! what a beautiful job!!!
10/21/13 5:16 PM
Annie P said...
The beading is fantastic. A wonderful job. Thanks for all the info.
10/23/13 5:37 AM
Margaret said...
10/23/13 3:13 PM
Mc Donna said...
Love it! And thank you for the tutorial.
11/17/13 11:18 PM
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