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At the Opera beads only closeup handbag

M monogramI don’t remember where I found this beaded glass fringe — it was years ago, when I first started painting and embellishing shoes — but I remember I simply HAD to have it. The combination of the iridescent but subtly colored round beads and the gloriously gold cylindrical beads, plus their zigzag shape entranced me. So I bought a yard. I can ALWAYS justify buying a yard of something…

At the Opera before handbagIt wasn’t until I came home from a thrift-store mission that I found the perfect place to use them. I had picked up a little black bag covered with slightly shimmery fabric and the slight curve of the top edge seemed a good place to dangle some beads.

At the Opera bead strip handbagThe beads came strung and stitched onto black satin ribbon. As I played around with them, I realized that they would look even better if I used them in two layers rather than one.

At the Opera in process handbagSo my first step was to stitch on the lower layer. (And here is a really bad picture of that step. I was doing this late at night and didn’t get a good shot of it.)

Before attaching the top layer, I dug around in my ribbon stash and found some patterned velvet ribbon to cover the shiny black ribbon. I folded it over and stitched it together, then I stitched the velvet ribbon to the bag. Ta da! I thought.

At the Opera trim in process handbag

At the Opera step 2 handbag

Note: The red color of the ribbon in the photo at right is its true color.

Then I thought, Hey, I am always telling our students not to stop too soon when they are painting and embellishing shoes. What if that went double for handbags?  That’s when I came up with the idea to wrap the velvet ribbon around the handles of the bag.

I admit, it was a bit tedious, but it ended up being worth it. Plus I did the whole thing while watching British TV shows on acorn.tv, so it was sort of a two-fer.

At the Opera after handbag

The only drawback to doing this was that it looked a little raw-edged at the point where the velvet-wrapped handles met the body of the handbag. Luckily, just at that point Destiny came over and suggested I put little bows to hide the problem.  All that was needed was decent-quality black satin ribbon and a little fabric glue to secure the bow. It was the perfect solution!

At the Opera closeup right handbag

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