Many bead embroiders prefer to use Lacy's Stiff Stuff which is stiffened felt, ordinary felt or suede as their foundations.  I have seen beaders use markers to color said foundations so that what actually shows through between the beads is color coordinated. 

Pretty leather is a great alternative if you want more of the background to show. This old video shows how well metallic TierraCast findings goes with a beautiful fish skin leather. The instructor is Katie Hacker for TierraCast. 

She just uses a single leather of leather. You can also use a backing leather piece if you want to finish the edges with beads or attach a pin back. 

It can be difficult to sew through leather. So consider using glover's needles rather than beading ones. These needles have sharp triangular points to easily pierce leather. You can indeed get fine glover's needles which you can use for bead embroidery on leather. This is a #12

The folks over on How It is Made show the making of modern fine leather gloves. Machines are used but there is still some hand-stitching done. 

Before You Go :


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM