Bead Table Wednesday: Downton Abbey-Inspired Beading

So, I have to admit it: I can't get enough of Downton Abbey. I'd seen a couple of blurbs about it, so when it popped up on my Netflix recommendations, I thought, why not?

I was hooked after watching the first episode. Set at the turn of the last century in an English country manor, I found myself sucked in to the plot and the characters. The clothing! The jewelry! The architecture! Truthfully, when the scene is a dinner party, I'm not so much paying attention to the story line and the dialogue as I am to the clothing and the jewelry worn by those glamorous ladies of the 1910s.

This week, to indulge my obsession a bit more, I decided to dig through my bead stash and create one of those magnificent festoon necklaces so popular at the turn of the last century! I purchased these kyanite drops from Lima Beads last fall with a very different idea in mind, but after looking through my sketchbook at a couple of the pieces I drew after watching Downton Abbey, I decided that they would be just the thing for a dazzling piece of antique-inspired jewelry.

Blue is not a color that I use very often in my beading, so this will be a little bit of a challenge for me. I just happened to have a few tubes of seed beads in various shades of blue that will look perfect with these gemstone drops, and a few Swarovski bicones or pearls thrown in for good measure will add the appropriate amount of bling. Instead of using bright gold metallic seed beads, I opted instead to use a shade of bright bronze seed beads from Whimbeads.The beadweaving itself will probably be a combination of right-angle weave and herringbone stitches to give the necklace the right drape when worn.

As for actually wearing this necklace when it's finished? I don't know. Dinner at my house isn't exactly what it is at Downton Abbey, but you never know.

What's on your Bead Table this Wednesday?

Bead Happy,


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Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

7 thoughts on “Bead Table Wednesday: Downton Abbey-Inspired Beading

  1. Jennifer, I love to hear about movies or series that feature good clothes, good meals and mostly good jewelry. Perfect, it is now on my list for watching.
    What is on my table today? An incredible urge to make something RED. How totally unlike me, but I figure my brain must be sending me in the right direction. I am normally smitten with greens and peachy pinks and almost never work in blues. Reds fall somewhere in between there but not something I usually set out to do. Whooo Hoooo Wednesday. Donna

  2. I am currently in Downton Abbey withdrawal. It will not be on until next January (I think). But I did read that Shirley Mac Laine is going to join the show as the mother of Cora. I can’t wait to see Shirley and Maggie Smith go at it. Anyway, I’m sure you saw the beautiful red beads that Cora wore on one occasion. I think it was the next to last show.

  3. I’m totally blown away by the styles in this show, too. And I’m finding that it is starting to influence my current designs.

    Can’t wait to see your piece finished, Jen! No pressure, but I’d love to feature it in a blog post on

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the castle where they film the show, check this out:

    It’s still in private ownership . . . by the countess! Nope, I’m not jealous at all. 😉

  4. Please post your necklace !!!!! I love the show and the wonderful jewelry, and as you I would never wear such pieces to dinner, just doesn’t go with jeans and flip flops!!! lol