Lily May’s beads

For many years I had a sad old pin cushion kicking around, the velvet had perished to the backing and most of the beaded fringe was gone.  But I could never bring myself to throw it out because the beading was lovely and I believe it was made by my Great Grandmother, Lily May.


    I started the restoration project yesterday, but I didn’t think to take photo before I carefully snipped the remains of the beaded fringe into a bag for recycling and carefully snipped around the beaded design.  The inner cushion appeared to be a loose weave flannel and given the amount of wood shavings that had worked through it seems that wood shavings, or saw dust, were used as the filling.


    A gentle wash brightened up the bead work and showed that the transparent beads were actually a blue colour, which I hadn’t noticed before.  Even though there was no nap left on the velvet the red dye bled profusely so I rinsed several times to ensure that it wouldn’t discolour the new backing. Now what to back it with?
    Some years later I am still working on this project. After finding some lovely red velvet and backing this with a heavy stabiliser to give me something to hold in the hoop, stitching started. I can only do a little at a time, as passing the fine needle, thread with a fine nylon, through the tiny beads, which already have a thick thread holding them together, is tricky. But little by little I will work on getting to a stage where it can be framed so that Lily May’s beadwork can be enjoyed by another generation, or more.
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