Vintage-Inspired Beading

I’ve always loved the beaded vintage cardigans from the 1950’s. They were luxurious, opulent, and surely reserved for the most special of occasions.

I saw them from time to time during my childhood: the flash of a folded shell when an aunt opened her drawer. A cardigan in the window of a resale boutique while driving by. The bolero on a friend’s mother who was leaving to go to dinner. It seemed to me beyond glamorous to own and wear one of these exotic beaded beauties.

It wasn’t until I was all grown up and had acquired a few of these garments for myself that I was able to get a good look at how they were adorned. I then realized that what seemed like it would take a tedious application of each bead one by one and would require at least a lifetime was not that way at all! A couple of evenings would be all that was needed to duplicate this rich look.

I teach a class on how to do this and students seem to just love it.  I share my small collection of beaded sweaters for inspiration, and we learn several techniques of beading during class. For many students, the lights really go on as to how many ways they can use this new skill to embellish anything from a common T-shirt to jackets, felted bags, holiday ornaments, etc.. The list is endless!

Here, a few photos of my beaded sweater collection to inspire YOU!

The first photo shows three of these sweaters.

 The second, a close-up of the black sweater using oval shaped beads, rhinestones and rounds as well as sequins in a leaf design.

The third sweater uses octagonally cut bronze  beads  on cashmere in a floral spray motif, one that I chose to duplicate.

The fourth sweater shows a fantastic use of several types of beads to indicate shading and some 3-d techniques to give dimension to the flower centers.

The fifth is my version of the bronze floral spray used on my Beauty and the Beads Jacket. The pattern includes complete instructions on how to do the beading.

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2 Comments on “Vintage-Inspired Beading”

  1. bjrjames Says:

    I, too, loved the beaded sweaters from the 50’s and 60’s. I a;ways thought the ladies wearing them looked so elegant and put together. Glad we are seeing them again.


  2. […] Your Knits finished up the weekend on Sunday morning.  The inspiration on Joan’s Blog is beautiful, but I know I probably won’t spend that much time adding beads to a sweater  […]


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