Teal Belt, part 1: beaded medallions and drapes.

Finished Beaded Medallions

Finished Beaded Medallions

After finishing the teal bra, and thinking of *finally* doing my first solo piece in December, I thought it would be a good idea to get moving on the belt. Deciding on a style has been difficult and it hasn’t been straightforwards, seeing that I made some changes to the bra, but in the end decided to go with something following the original idea: a blinged-up version of a traditional tribal piece. Some of the pieces that I had prepared before would work, but I would also require to do some new bits. And after seeing my teacher’s gorgeous Tribal belt up close after the ATS Flash Mob, I decided I wanted to have two medallions like that, although of course following the style of what I’d done so far.

Support backing, serged

Support backing, serged

I first figured out the size of the medallions I wanted. Then I traced two of them over thick, stiff calico fabric; cut them and serged the edges to prevent fraying. I also put the central piece I wanted (a bronze filigree) and drew around it over the fabric, and also traced two extra circles, so I would have a guideline of where my pieces and beading needed to go, and drew an idea of what I wanted for the rest of the medallion. Next I sew them onto the back of the same stretch crushed velvet I used for the bra, keeping the drawings visible, and I finished preparing the pieces for beading by putting the whole thing onto a wooden embroidering frame.
Medallions in wooden frame from the back

in the wooden frame

I’d seen my mother used these before but I’d never done it, and now I’m wondering why: they made the beading process a lot easier and more comfortable, and as the fabric was stretched, there was less of a chance that the beading might contract or deform it. If you’re using this, I recommend you either go for a smaller one so you can fit just one medallion, and because it will reduce fabric waste, so if you’re buying a frame, go for one that would fit the maximum size you expect your medallions to be.

Beading Progress 1

Beading Progress 1

Next step was to stitch the filigree, using the back drawing to make sure it matched its designated area. I used Gutterman Extra Strong thread, and used the holes and parts in the filigree to attach it to the two layers of fabric. After the filigree, I started attaching teardrop-shaped resin rhinestones that would create a sort of sunflower shape around the filigree.
Back of the initial beading

Back of the initial beading

On the right, a shot of the back of this centrepiece, showing how I’ve stitched each hole in the filigree, several times to add strength, and knotted every one to prevent the whole unravelling should one of the threads break for whatever reason.

Beading Progress 2

Beading Progress 2

After the rhinestones, I followed the same procedure I used for the bra, of stringing beads to a certain length, knotting every other group or so, and then attaching this string to the fabric using spiral stitch. This allowed me more control, as I could check the length required and adapt as necessary. I then removed some of the blue round gems and bronze beads from an unused piece of the beaded sari ribbon I’d used for the bra, to have a continuity of colour and theme, and attached first the round gems roughly in quarter points, then in eighths, and then freestyled the beaded swirls in between these.
Finshed medallion in frame

Finshed medallion in frame

To do them, I used a simple backstitch with a bead strung through; it took a while to get used to the effect and it’s not as good as it could be as the size of the beads is not uniform, but after a while I got the hang of it. I finished the beading with another circle of strung beads, attached as the previous one. After this was done, I made sure that everything was attached properly, and then I removed the velvet from the frame, and cut it about 1″ wider than the basic circles.

Finished medallions, front and back

Finished medallions, front and back

The finishing was rather easy: I folded the edge doing small pleats all around, then pinning them in place, until I was sure it would be mostly flat. I then sewed these pleats down and then the fabric to the calico circle, so the medallions would remain flat. The only real thing missing from these at the moment is a backing to cover the embroidery, which I will do once I am absolutely certain that the embroidery is final and there won’t be any last minute modification, and this will happen once I have the belt base set up.

Next step for this belt will be to cut and cover the base shape, and add the decorations. But first, I took a detour through crochet-land…

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