Sunday, December 30, 2012

Buying Soutache Braid & Supplies

Yesterday i was asked about the differences between polyester and rayon soutache, it can also be a rayon/cotton blend. So I'd like to share with you the Soutache Braid in my supplies.

Earlier this year Bead & Button magazine featured Soutache from Amee Sweet-McNamara at ameerunswithscissors. This was one of our Beading Babes challenges so I took the opportunity to have a play with Soutache. Now I'm near Brisbane in Australia, we've lost the old style haberdashery shops.

I managed to get some braid at my local fabric store. They had 2 sorts - a very soft braid from China and an English one which was firmer, wound tighter. See how sloppy soft the outer one is? It's also very stretchy and kinks easily

I made some ear rings following Amee's tutorial video Here

I was hooked. Next step I bought a whole pile of Soutache from Amee's website, picking colours mainly from the imported list but some from the domestic list as well. (She explains the differences and metallic which is a whole pile of more fiddliness)

I went ahead and made the pendants featured in my blog banner using imported colours. I had played around with some other practice pieces in the blues which I had planned to stitch together in a necklace, but after using the new stash my fingers just didn't like what I had purchased locally. (I've still done nothing with them)

This is the new stash see how it frays and you can easily see the V so you can line them up the same?
I put a dab of fraycheck on each cut end to stop the fray. This is polyester

The domestic one is firmer tighter not as easy to make out the V there's a string in each side. This one is polyester/rayon mix the actual width and thickness is different to the other one
Now this is one I purchased from an online bead supplier here in Australia. There's no information on which country it originates from or the thread type. It has the inner thread is tight and hardish 

 I used it to make a ribbon necklace to hang a soutache pendant from

When you take 3 colours from the same brand and line them in same direction, they sit together nicely between your fingers making it easier to start stitching. The thickness is same, they 'slot' together. They will also sit in a nice curve which helps your flow (remember narrow stitches inner curve, longer stitch on outer)

Here's a mix of brands, I find it's more fiddly to fit them together, making sure they're in the same direction

So which Soutache braid do I say for you to buy as a beginner?

Be aware of which countries it is convenient for you to buy from e.g. taxes, shipping etc I know some U.K. people prefer to buy from UK because of this.

Next - Is there a bead artist or someone you know whose work you admire? Usually they have found the brand they like to use. This can be a good starting point.

Otherwise buy enough for a project from several suppliers, the pendants I've made are around 3 metres/yards each of the chosen colours. You'll soon discover which feels better for you to work with. Also as a beginner, I would stay with the same brand for a project, until you get a feel for what you are doing, then you'll know how to handle a mix or metallics. And the cost? I've seen it from lots of places, that work out between 15c and $1 per metre and even at the higher cost this is not an expensive technique. So as always choose quality braid which gives the result you are aiming to achieve. And what do you use to stitch it with? Any of the nylon threads of your choice - nymo B or D, One G, K.O

Originally the braid was stitched as a decoration on military clothing. Today I don't know what purpose the manufacturer has in mind, is it traditional decorative clothing, jewellery, binding seams? Who knows? When I search the net and see the gorgeous pieces made in Russia, Israel and throughout Europe, the lovely curves and colours, I'm hooked. Mind you I have to finish my pieces with familiar bead embroidery techniques, ultrasuede edge stitching etc as that's my training.

Remember the debate with beading thread? Do you use nylon or fireline, nymo or KO?
So which Soutache braid do you prefer? Soft, hard, narrow, frayable, non-frayable the choice is yours.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What threads do you use for beading?

Every beader you talk to seems to have a different preference for threads to use for beading.

As a beadweaver I was taught using fireline, and the discussion on whether to use nymo or fireline began. I recently took part in a Beading Babes challenge project which included the Soutache project in Bead & Button by Amee Sweet-McNamara. This project introduced me to nymo B. I found this thread really nice to work with but it can fray easily. My next Beading Babes project was a bead embroidered cuff. For this piece I explored threads using the nymo B, some One G, K.O., and Silamide. There's a range of prices amongst these threads but what I found was:
  • they are all nice to work with 
  • they all fray
  • silamide and nymo b are hardest to thread, the end splits open
  • KO is easiest to thread the end doesn't split at all
  • they all have a range of colours to suit threads and fabrics. 
I have since also used nymo D
Lately I've been using the KO a lot. I have found the end doesn't part when you're trying to thread it, it takes alot of unpicking before fraying, it doesn't fray bad where needle eye sits, it feels nice in hand

So my preference -
  • I still like fireline for Beadweaving, although it tangles, I feel it holds the shape better.
  • For Soutache I love KO
  • For Bead Embroidery any of the nylon threads.  I now have a selection of threads I need to use up. But will probable stay with KO for new purchases even though it's heaps more expensive than nymo
So what thread is your preference?