Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Working the Curve

After Linda's post yesterday about escaping the box I thought I'd talk a little about freeform beadweaving which is one of the easiest ways to escape the box.

Many are daunted about working without a pattern and shy away from freeform work but there are a few easy guidelines to make your freeform successful and open up this style of beading to you.

Firstly, work with a monotone palette.
Get together a selection of beads in different sizes and shape but all in shades of the same color. Things will be a lot easier if you don't have to think about color changes.

Secondly, know your curves.
Practice working on a strip of peyote, use large beads at one side and small beads at the other, try 8/0 and 11/0 sizes to begin with.  As you work you will see that the work willl curve towards the side with the samller beads. Now switch the sides for the beads, using small instead of large and large instead of small....this will make the work straighten up as it curves in the opposite direction.
Use one stitch.
On your first attempt stick to one stitch...one you are very comfortable with.  Try breaking the work into columns, you can play with curves and even braid the columns, even twist columns before bringing them back together.  Once you have created a couple of freeform pieces using one stitch you will be much more confident about adding more stitches.

Go for it.
Don't second guess yourself the first time you try. Freeform work can be embellished, worked over with netting and added to allowing you lots of control to get the finished look you want.  There are no rules which means you can't make mistakes :) The more you do freeform work the better you will get at it so don't beat yourself up if your first attempt is not something you would wear....look at the lessons you learned in creating it.

There are tutorials out there that give you some techniques to incorporate into your work. They aren't patterns per se, but give you tips about changing sizes, changing stitches and adding embellishments.


  1. What an awesome post, and thank you SO much for putting my first attempt up there, Mikki! I am still trying, and have been using your advice the whole time, so thanks for putting even more up here for me to go by!!!!

  2. Can I get back in the box please? It's scary out here with all this free expression! Cool post Mikki! :)

  3. I like freeform a lot because I always have collection of beads that look so good together and the best way I can come with to use them is freeform! I have lots of demons in my head when I'm working on something, so I just stuff them back in their box and pick up more beads! You can always add, cover or embellish an area you don't like. No mistakes, how cool is that!

  4. I'm a pattern girl but I think you're clever post might just have inspired me to try and be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  5. That's odd! Didn't see this post until this morning and started a freeform piece yesterday.
    I was at my wit's end for the Autumn challenge and felt like I'd run screaming if I sketched out one more plan. Then it occurred to me that if I couldn't plan, maybe I should just give up and ad lib. Great post, Mikki! (And PS - I'm having a ball with the freeform. Just what the doctor ordered.))

  6. I never have a laid out plan when i start on any embroidery project...wait on any project. I do have to follow some pattern when I'm sewing up a doll form, but from then on...freeform! all the way.

  7. Very timely! I've been contemplating starting a freeform peyote something or other and am taking all the tips I can get!

  8. Have contemplated freeform in the past but being a Virgo, precise and orderly are usually the words of the day. Stepping outside the box is difficult, but not impossible for me. After the holidays I plan on trying freeform. Thanks for the inspiration, Mikki!