I have made a few of these over the years using plastic beads. They do not turn out as nice. Glass beads have a nice weight to them. I use mostly seed beads but the occasional larger bead adds a nice touch.
I string most of my ornaments on 2 pound fishing line. I have tried other things but 4 pound line is stiffer and you do not get a nice drape. I have tried a variety of threads but the thicker threads just get stuck and the thinner ones break too easily. The fishing line works well. I found a really big spool of it in the fishing section of the local sporting goods store.
You need a very skinny needle--a beading needle is usually a bit on the flexible side so they bend easily. I have tried several different kinds--they all work pretty well. If you are using tinier beads, choose the thinnest needle possible.
This is going to take more thread than you might think. I hate having to attach new threads all the time so I try to start with a really long thread. I usually use a thread that is as long as I can stretch my arm. This does cause problems for beginners. Longer threads get tangled more. As you get more experience, you learn how to keep tangles from happening.
Step 1: Beginning at the Collar
Start by stringing enough needs to make a loop all the way around the neck of your bulb. Once you know that the loop fits around the bulb, you can set the bulb off to the side.
I like to evenly space a contrasting color bead around the collar. This helps me when I start the next row. You can use an alternate size or shape bead. I showed a few alternatives in the pictures.
On my example in the picture, I used 5 clear beads followed by one white bead. I repeated this until I had 5 white beads. The white beads are the ones I used to join rows.
Pass the needle through all the beads a second time then tie the beginning thread to the working end. I leave the tail thread on at this time. This means that you will have it to tie to when you finish. At that time you can trim the end off.
Step 2: Second Row
To attach row 2 to row 1, pass the needle back through the contrast bead of round 1 and then through the contrast need of round 2. See the drawn diagram. Follow the arrows. I think of this as a figure 8--kind of anyway. Since all the weight rests on this point, I usually go through the figure 8 twice.
String on another 7 or 8 beads and another contrast bead. Repeat the attachment procedure with the next contrast bead from round 1. Continue around until you finish round 2.
Step 3: Each Additional Row
If you use many more beads with each subsequent row, you will see more of the glass bulb when the ornament is hanging. If you only add a few additional beads with each subsequent row, then you will block the inner ornament from view. It is up to you how much you want showing.
I used 8 clear beads between white beads in round 2. I used 12 clear beads in round 3. I used 7 clear, a white, a gold, a white, and 7 more clear in round 4.
You can make as many or as few rows as you wish. I sometimes make the beads hang down well past the bottom of the bulb. Other times, I make the beaded drape shorter than the bulb itself. This is a good idea when you are covering a larger bulb--the beads make the bigger bulbs very heavy.
Step 4: Adding More Thread
I prefer my knots to be somewhere in the middle of the draping part rather at the contrast bead part. I do not like the knot getting in the way of my joining the rows but that is probably just my version of OCD.
If you want to make extra sure that your knot will not slip, you can seal it with a drop of clear nail polish. Be sure to let it dry before you continue to work.
Once you know that your knot is not going to slip, trim the tails of your thread and continue to work.
I know that you cannot see the thread in the picture. I really don't know why I took a picture of the knotted thread. Just trust me, there is a new thread added to the first one.
Step 5: When You Have Finished the Last Row
Step 6: A Couple of Finished Ornaments
If the glass bulb breaks, you can re-use the beaded drape on another ornament of the same size.