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Working with beaded fabric

If you have never sewn with beaded fabric, it is easy to be intimidated by the $100-and-up-per-yard price tag.

Depending on the width of the fabric and the size of your bust, you may be able to get a tank top out of three-fourths of a yard.

Since machine stitches cannot be removed from beaded fabrics successfully, the pattern should be pre-tested.

Place the beaded fabric against a contrasting surface, single layer so that you can clearly see the design. Is it one-way, with a top and bottom? If so, you will need to cut all pieces in the same direction using the "with nap" layout.

Cut through a single layer of fabric with a pair of scissors that are not your best. The beads will nick and dull the blades.

Eliminate facings altogether and substitute bias silk charmeuse binding or line completely with China silk. Beaded fabrics are interfaced with bridal tulle or silk organza. After cutting pattern pieces from beaded fabric, cut identical pieces from tulle and lining fabric.

Staystitch around all seams on the beaded fabric at five-eighths of an inch. Run a bead of clear glue right on top of the staystitch line. Pull beads out of all seam allowances. Now layer beaded fabric, a layer of tulle and a layer of lining. Hand baste the layers together. Pieces are now ready for sewing.

The beads will dull and break your needles, so have plenty on hand. Use a 2.0 mm length straight stitch for seaming. Bind seam allowances separately with Seams Great or bias lining strips.

Consider buttonhole alternatives. Zippers must be hand-picked. Fold up hem allowance. Sew drapery weights in the fold. Hand-stitch beaded hem to lining.

Sandra Betzina is host of Sew Perfect on Home & Garden Television.