You've seen this stuff before, right? As far as I can tell the technique has been confined to purses and bags, though why this might be the case is a mystery to me. I would buy the shit out of a t-shirt covered in the things.
Here's what I know:
- They are not technically beads as they don't have a hole. Rather they appear to be fused on to the fabric, most likely using a heat transfer, I reckon. Don't bother googling that though, lest you be sucked into the Hama Bead universe - as if Hama Beads haven't already claimed enough hours of my life.
- The earliest examples of the technique that I have been able to find are from the 1940s
- A brand called Lumared seems to have specialised in the stuff, along with a Hong Kong label called JEM. They are sometime referred to as corde or cordo beads.
- Finally, and most mystifyingly, the style seems to have struck it big in the land of milk and honey