The beauty of beading and embellishments

From concept to reality.


The beauty of bridal is that it offers the bride an opportunity to wear a wedding dress that otherwise would be completely inappropriate. Let’s face it, how often will you have a chance to wear a gown that is beaded, embroidered, appliquéd, made with metres of fabric, or has as a show stopping train that looks like something from a couture runway in Paris? Unless you’re a Royal or a Hollywood A lister, the chances are… NEVER!

Brides-to-be these days are spoilt for choice. There is endless inspiration online and a growing selection of retailers and designers entering into the world of the wedding dress; though there comes a point to just how different or unique a gown can be when it comes to shape or silhouette.

There is strapless, off shoulder, plunge V, boat neck, long sleeve, cap sleeve, fit and flair, ball gown, mermaid, skirt and top, bustier, and so on. Though in all, there comes a point where no wedding dress shape is new or different, or been seen or done before. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but for a bride wanting a special touch and that extra bit of impact, the world of beading and embellishment can do just that.

A true skill in itself, beading and embroidery has its roots through history, dating as far back as 30,000 B.C. It wasn’t really until the early 1900’s in western culture that ornamentation and beading started to feature on wedding dresses, coming in and out of vogue as a result of the world wars and the depression.

These days embellishment is aplenty and a highly popular inclusion in a gown, and it can really add that “wow factor” if designed and crafted correctly. I won’t lie, I have seen plenty of terrible embroidery and embellishments out there – cheap and nasty, plastic imitations, mass produced, manufactured without the attention to detail and the touch of a skilled artisan. It can really kill a dress.

As a bridal designer, I am fascinated and in awe of the skill involved in creating embroideries and beading. They are works of art, crafted and made by hand. There is soul and purpose in their creation and an aesthetic that cannot be compared to factory-made mass-produced copies.

Since a child, I have always been fascinated by the tactility of embroidery and embellishments. I was and still am constantly gravitating with curiosity and amazement to the gowns of yesteryear – the details, the intricacies and the uniqueness. Many a time if I happened to walk by a vintage store, I would wander in to look at the off cuts of beaded trims or a preloved dress that feature some kind of embellishment.

So it seems befitting that to this day, I chose to specialise in bridal and with it have the opportunity to create and design my own embroideries and beaded artworks with a team of amazing artisans in India.

Like any design, creating a beaded design requires research, sketching, refining, sampling and then finalising to then create the real design.

Research and sketching

Designing for me is all about what inspires visually and what mood it creates. Sometimes the embroidery can be a complementary piece; other times a feature and main focus.

The Nike design is one such embellishment, where initially I started with an idea to create a wedding dress that was not floral, had strength, individualism and a touch of antiquity but converted for a modern era.

Visual research followed by numerous hand sketches were done to end with a final design. I then digitise the design in Adobe Illustrator so it’s ready to send to the embroiders, along with the base tulle and design notes.


One of the most important parts of creating anything new from a concept is the sampling, where numerous prototypes are made to develop and define the design, bead work, colour and technique. It is not unusual to do as many as 4 or 5 variations, particularly if the design is detailed, all to ensure the correct style, proportions and mood that it evokes are suitable to the overall feel for the gown

Sampling involves creating a trace on the base fabric that is then stretched to a frame for hand beading or embroidery. In some cases it can be a mixture of hand and machine embroidery which is then gone back over and hand beaded.


After the sampling is complete, the technique decided, colour and style confirmed, the final design is then created, checked and rechecked through its stages. Where an embroidery or embellishments is required to be an all over design, the gown patterns are used as the guide and outline and the embroidery is designed within the area. Where an embellishment is a placed design and hand appliquéd to the gown during completion, then only the base fabric with the trace is used.

All bead works and embroideries require strict checking once removed from the frame, to check for shrinkage and variations and then adjusted accordingly.

From concept to creation

The work is returned from the embroiders studio and made into a gown, constantly checked along the way to ensure the placement and design are working well. Where the beading extends over seams, the hand sewer (a.k.a. me!) will go back over the seams with embellishments to ensure the design flows over the panels of the gown.

If the design is an appliqué, the gown is sewn to lining stage. The embroidery is hand sewn to the correct placement and the gown is completed.

The world of beading and embellishments is an intricate one. Countless hours of designing, sampling and making, which are well rewarded when the final creation is looked upon in its finished state, turning a gown into a stunning and individual work of art, made with soul and purpose, by hand not machine, ready to make an impact in its final state, adorning a wedding dress that will be sure to turn heads.

Make your impact!

Cassandra – Guipurean