Artful Beads! What is "soutache"?
Soutache (pronounced soo-tash)
is a narrow braid woven into a
herringbone pattern around two s
trands of piping inside the braid.
It is sometimes referred to as
"Russian Braid". Soutache ribbon
is currently made out of polyester
and rayon, and it is available in
many colors, including metallic.
Soutache has been used since the
17th century as a trim for uniforms,
curtains and clothing.
There are two types of soutache braid: domestic and imported. Domestic (made in the
The art of soutache embroidery is a very free-form experience of constructing waves
of braid around beads and/or cabachons. The beads are actually sewn directly between layers of braid. The final piece can be left to show light through and be airy in appearance. Alternatively, stitching a backing in place, such as ultrasuede, helps to conceal any ends in the back, and give the piece a more finished look.
Some artists tend to work a
symmetrical design, while others
prefer an asymmetrical look. If
preferred, you can sketch the
design on paper first, and follow
by stitching the design with your
braid and beads. I prefer to work
“by the seat of my pants”, as they
say, and let the design take shape
as I stitch and fold and incorporate
beads. It’s exciting to watch something evolve into an elaborate design!
I hope you enjoy exploring this new avenue in the world of beading as much as I do!