http://www.beadjournalproject.com/ is a group of people who do a beaded piece every month for a year. This is the third year I've been in it. It is the perfect way to work in a series. Each artist decides what their theme for the year is.
Mine is to felt a background, then machine quilt/embroider it. I always have a focal piece-makes me use those wonderful things I buy and then don't know what to do with. Additional beads complement the focal piece. Since the layers are felted wool or batting, I'm just straight stitching the edge and using a pinking blade on the rotary cutting to finish the outside. Note: the pinking blade will mark your cutting mat, so use an old one.