Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Correcting a Missed Opportunity: Collar Embellishment

Beaded collar on oxford button down shirt
Sewing Level:  Easy 

A significant trend for fall is bold embellishment with beads, sequins, lace and trim.  We talked about embellishment in the July 5, 2012 post 'Fall 2012 Embellishment Trends.'  The Louis Vuitton Fall 2012 Collection leads the embellishment trend with coats and dresses dripping in oversize crystals (see the collection at

Gold sequins frame the face on the beaded cotton oxford cloth shirt at right.  The beading transforms the traditional shirt from ordinary to favorite blouse in the closet.  What could you not wear this shirt with?

In the July 15, 2012 blog post we constructed a french blue traditional shirt.  While the shirt features clever collar and neckband construction, we missed the opportunity to update the shirt with a beaded collar.  Since we're just getting into the fall fashion season I decided to add the beading and enjoy the shirt this winter.

For beads I like to shop at  For a wonderful variety of sequins try

My goal was a beautiful collar achieved with easy sewing techniques; I definitely did not want to spend a weekend beading the collar.  I found a scrap of beaded lace in my stash from a cocktail dress I made four years ago.  You can argue that the lace is too fine to just use the center motifs, but it has been in my stash four years and it's high time I used the lace. 
Beaded lace scrap
  Here is the lace used on a cocktail dress.  This dress was fun to wear because it was "different!"
Chiffon and lace cocktail dress with "creative" draping; note the beaded lace under the chiffon!
 The lace has large motifs organized in a round pattern on the netting.  As long as I don't cut through  a row of beading on the motif, the beads are stable and I don't have to reinforce the stitching.  I cut out one motif and it was too large.
Cut out one motif

 Next I removed the outer row of beading.  Fit is perfect; I don't want the motif touching my neck as the beads can irritate skin.  I cut out six motifs from the scraps.
Trim away the outer row from the motif; now the applique fits the collar width

 It took all of twenty minutes to hand fell stitch the six motifs in place.
Thread collar matches lace
I added a few large pearls between the lace pieces to blend the lace and blue fabric.  To launder the garment, I can hand wash it, dry clean it, or remove the lace, machine wash and dry the shirt, then reattach the lace.  I will probably hand wash it.
Embellished collar is complete
A half hour of sewing is time well spent
I'm satisfied with the results so I sift through my wardrobe to see if any other garments "need" beading.  A gray silk blouse gets a makeover too!
Beads added to collar,  fabric loop strip over buttonholes
In my closet was a gray silk blouse that I wore frequently with skirts and trousers.  The blouse fits great and has an interesting self fabric strip attached to the base of the neckband and anchored between each buttonhole.  I decided to add a little color and splash with a simple bead pattern.
I added 6mm embossed iridescent black rings and glass rainbow seed beads to this blouse
How to bead the gray blouse collar:

Step One:  Knot the thread, pass it through the right side of the collar, catch a sequin and bead on the thread.
Knot will be hidden under first sequin/bead combination
  Step Two:  Pass needle back through sequin and catch a few threads of collar.
Single loop of thread holds bead to sequin
Step Three:  Come back up under sequin, catching bead, and exiting back through sequin to collar.  

 Step Four:  Create a loop with thread and pass threaded needle through loop to secure.  Travel with needle to next bead location. 
Knot thread after each bead to secure and prevent loose threads
Step Five:  Travel between the upper and under collars to the location of the next bead.  Repeat steps.
Needle travels
Loose beads result when thread tension is loose or you stitch each bead once rather than twice.
Loose beads because they were secured with one needle/thread pass
 Experiment with bead colors and shapes.  Use multiple bead patterns in one design. I spent three hours hand beading this collar.  This collar was more time consuming than the first one, but the result is different and it's good to practice both techniques.  For more information on sewing a traditional shirt, see the tutorial at the upper right corner of the blog home page. 

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