How to attach paillettes and beads

Remember the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”?. Today’s tutorial on attaching paillettes and beads doesn’t take much explaining – a few photos will show you exactly what to do.

First up – how to attach a gold paillette with a bead on the top, like the ones you see below.

I use the same gold silk thread for attaching these beads and paillettes that I do for all my gold work: Au ver a soie 100/3 in color 241. A single thread will be fine for this work.

Bring your threaded needle up through the fabric at the place where you want the center (the hole in the middle) of the paillette to be.

I use a plastic lid lined with velvet to hold the paillettes and beads. Bring the lid to your needle and catch one paillette with the end of your needle.

Now catch one bead with the end of your needle and carefully slide both down towards the fabric.

Continue to slide the paillette on to the fabric but not the bead. Insert your needle back through the fabric in the middle of the paillette at the same place you came up with your needle at the beginning.

Pull the needle through to the back of the fabric, watching carefully that the thread doesn’t knot. It has a tendency to twist (see below) but if you pull slowly and use your laying tool or even a a large needle, you can help it travel through without knotting. And that’s it!

Attaching paillettes is almost the same process but requires more stitches to keep the paillette in place. Often paillettes are scattered on an embroidery piece and their exact placement isn’t critical. In this design, though, they need to be exact. Again, begin by bringing the needle up where you want the center (the hole in the middle) of the paillette to be.

Bring your tray holding the paillettes to your needle and catch one paillette on your needle. Slide the paillette all the way down to the fabric. Take a second to look at where it is placed and make sure it’s correct. At this point you can move it slightly one way or another.

When attaching a paillette that must be in an exact spot, I use three stitches. Imagine the face of a clock. You will be putting a stitch in at 12:00, at 4:00 and at 8:00. The first stitch goes to the top and through the fabric at 12:00.

Next, bring your needle up from the back at 4:00.

Go through the same hole in the middle to the back of the fabric with your needle.

Lastly, bring your needle through to the front again but at 8:00 this time. Take your needle through to the back using the same center hole one last time.

When attaching beads, you need to make sure the needle you are using will pass through the hole of the bead. I used a milliner needle #3 and it worked beautifully. I put my beads and piallettes into little ramekins and then take a “pinch” at a time and put those few into the velvet lined tray. That way, if I drop the tray (which I have!) it isn’t such a huge mess to clean up.

Happy stitching!


9 thoughts on “How to attach paillettes and beads

  1. I really like the look of your gold outlines and paillettes. Especially the paillettes. I’ve worked metallics into blackwork before – mostly couched fillings or satin stitch, but I like the “bang for buck” of this approach much better. Thanks for the pix! Enjoying your work vicariously – kbs

  2. When working with the beads and paillettes spaced out like they are, how do you start and end your thread. Do you do an away knot? If so where do you weave it under as there is not much thread on the back side?

    • Hi Judy,

      Great question! When I begin I do a waste knot (away knot). I bring the needle through from the front to the back, so the knot is on the front of the fabric. Bring the needle up where you will place the paillette/bead. Then bring the needle to the back again but not in exactly the same place. As you pull the thread, stop when there is still about an inch loop on the front of the fabric. Bring the needle up again exactly in the same place as the first time you brought in to the front. Slip the needle through the loop, making a “knot”. Now bring the needle to the back on last time in the same place you brought it through to the back the first time. Whew! Hope this helps. I’ll do a short article on this in the next few days so it’s clearer!
      Liebe Grusse,

  3. That’s a very clear explanation of the process. It’s possible to use only two stitches for the sequins, but as long as you are consistent, I don’t think it really matters.

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