Sarah Millsop’s Beaded Birthday Cake Card Topper
“This project will teach you how to square stitch with seed beads. This type of weave gives the finish and appearance of beadwork formed on a loom. As it’s done by hand, intricate and multi-layered patterns are a lot easier to create. You can use grid paper to draw your own patterns, but we’ve provided the cake image for you to follow as an example. This beaded cake is a lovely way to add dimension to your cards or gift boxes and could even be made into detachable gifts, like a brooch.” – Sarah Millsop
You Will Need:
For the majority of beading, it’s useful to have a stopper seed bead. This will assist your tension and prevent beads from falling off as you work. Thread a bead leaving about a 15cm tail at the end. Thread your needle back through the bead a 2nd time, creating a loop around it, and pull tightly. You’ll be able to slide the bead up and down the thread as required, and then it will be removed once your beads are secure.
When working with a pattern and a square stitch, it’s really helpful to start at the longest or widest part of your design. Thread your seed beads to include all three tiers of the cake and a central pattern from the grid (see graph image for pattern). I have included a candle here, but you could add them separately at the end if you would prefer. (If so, ignore step 3 and begin your square stitch from step 4.)
Once you reach the top of the candle, miss the orange bead (which will represent the flame) and thread your needle back down to the three white beads of the candle. Pull tightly until the orange and white beads sit neatly together. This will secure the candle and will now be the tightest part of your work. If need be, push your stopper bead up towards this point to neaten and tighten all seed beads.
Pick up a pink seed bead and thread it up through the pink bead added in your first section. Pull the thread tightly so they sit neatly and closely next to each other.
Thread your needle back down the new pink bead and tighten. This completes your ‘square stitch’ and each seed bead will be added in this way.
You can now follow the pattern to replicate the design. Pick up a white seed bead and secure in the same way, moving back up through the bead next to it from the previous row.
Only thread back through the bead added in the previous step to secure – no others. Don’t worry that this new row of beads isn’t connected to the other yet, that comes at a later stage. Just continue adding the new seed beads and securing to the one next to it.
Once you’ve completed your row, run your thread all the way up the first row (NOT including the candle).
Once you reach the top, thread all the way down through the new row of seed beads – this should neaten them all up and join them together.
You will now be working from the base of a new row, upwards. Make sure you correctly follow the pattern from the grid.
When it come to beading the new tier in the cake, secure your bead rows following steps 8 and 9, but you’ll need to exit your needle for the 2nd tier. So follow steps 8 and 9 twice, but on the 2nd pass, exit your needle for the new tier of beads. This will position you for the new section, and all your previous seed beads are secured. Continue weaving your pattern.
When securing from here on in, you will only need to thread up to the new section – not all the way to the top. Continue until you have one more beaded row and then add your first cake tier at the bottom.
You’ll need to navigate through your beadwork to complete the 2nd candle. Do this by zig-zagging your thread through the seed beads on the bottom row to the 5th bead along. As you are using a thread path that’s already created, you can move around your work invisibly. Thread all the way to the top of this row.
Thread 2 white seed beads and an orange. Miss your orange bead on the way back down, just like before, and thread through the 2 white beads. Bring your needle under the thread at the top of the cake to ensure that these candle beads sit in the middle. Tighten to secure.
Zig-zag through the top seed beads to navigate to the other side. You can now complete this section of the cake by mirroring everything you have done from step 4.
To secure your threads, tie a half hitch knot and weave the tails through your work before you trim and excess. To tie a half hitch knot, bring your needle under a thread path (like when adding the candles) but do not pull your thread tight. Leave a small loop and bring your needle over the thread and through the loop. Pull tightly.