Beads on a Gown…..Removing and Reattaching

Many of you out there have been asking me how to take off beads and reattach them.

I don’t have a “rocket science” answer, but I’ll tell you what works for me.

I just begin by assessing the area where they are to be removed.

If I am taking in the side seams or bust of a dress, I will start by removing the beads closest to the seam line.

On this dress, the beads are huge and vary in size and shape, so I need to remove them or my presser foot will not be able to move over the surface of the fabric when I take in the dress.

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As I assess the area, I look to see if the beads are sewn on individually with a long thread or if they are attached onto a separate piece of fabric, like a netting.

This dress didn’t have the netting.

The beads were sewn on individually, but probably done by a machine.

I can usually follow the thread with my eye, even while it is still sewn in, to figure out which beads should come off.

I use either my seam ripper or a pair of small pointed scissors to clip the first thread.

Once that is done, I pull the bead off and store it in a small bowl or baggie.

Now, I gently pull on the thread to see where the next bead is coming from.

I try to keep the thread as long as I can without cutting it because I may be able to use that same thread later to secure the beads that are not going to be removed.

We’ll talk more about that later.

Once all of the beads are off, I do the alteration.

Then, I find a needle that is narrow enough for the beads to slide over.

Thread the needle with thread that matches the color that was used originally.

Tie a knot on the end.

I come up through the dress from the back, or if that is not possible, or I don’t want the knot to show on the underside, I come up through a spot where I will later attach a bead so that the knot will be hidden:

Anchor the bead down with several stitches. The bead above needs to be sewn by coming up through the middle of it and then down the outside of it.

Sometimes, you’ll have to go through the middle of the bead like this:

And sometimes, you’ll have to sew it on the edge of the bead like this:


Just continue to sew beads on. If there was originally a pattern or sequence to how the beads were sewn on, then follow that sequence. Sometimes you won’t be able to match it exactly, but do what you can to make it look as good as possible. In this case, the beads were sewn randomly all over the dress bodice, so I will do the same and fill in the open spaces until it looks good:

When I get to the end, I will pull the thread to the back of the dress (if that is possible).

Remember the long thread(s) that you had from pulling beads off at the beginning?

Thread those onto a needle one at a time:

Then pull it to the back of the dress and tie the two threads together into a knot that is secure:

If you’re not able to pull them through to the back of the garment, then tie your knots under a bead or in some spot where they can’t be seen.

And that’s all there is to it!

When you’re finished, it should look the same as before you started.