Beadweaving is without a doubt an amazing type of beading and for many also the ultimate beading style. It attracts people for many reasons. Its intricate look, countless variations in use, and wide range of results with different beads while using the same technique are some. There are also an amazing variety of beads and supplies that can be used for beadweaving. Because of the variety of materials available to use, Beadweaving yields an unlimited amount of projects for various skill levels.
It may seem to a beading beginner’s eye that there are so many beading stitches and that it might be better to avoid this beading discipline completely and only admire it from afar, rather than to start exploring this vast realm on his or her own. On the other hand, more experienced beaders can see that there is only a limited number of different stitches which, when combined, always create something new and complex.
If you don’t feel like exploring the beadweaving web of stitches alone, we are here to help with our list of essential stitches you should know in order to be able to start beadweaving. This collection of stitches will also help you decipher and understand more intricate beadwork, so you can one day create such jewellery too!
All pieces designed and created by potomacbeads.com team member, Anna Taylor.
Since we are talking about beadweaving, it, of course, means that you will need thread, a needle, and beads.
Concerning the stringing material, it depends on the project which thread you will use. When you don’t have to pass through beads more than two or three times, then the best choice is Beadalon Wildfire. In other cases, it’s better to choose a beading thread. Then it’s mostly up to you which one you like. You can use One-G, KO thread, Hana thread, Nymo, Superlon, SoNo thread, or even mono-filament Illusion cord. Some of these brands offer different diameters, so you can choose a thinner or thicker thread according to your project.
You will also need a beading needle. If you are lost in sizing, then simply remember that for the often used .006” (i.e. .15 mm) Beadalon Wildfire, you will need a size 10 beading needle. For most of the other beading threads, you will need a size 12 needle which allows you to go through small beads many times. In some cases, you may opt for a size 13 needle when working with really small beads, for example Czech Charlottes.
And what kind of beads? Any kind!
Designed and created by potomacbeads.com YouTube instructor, Marissa Vallejo.
Furthermore, there are different styles of each stitch. Almost all of them you can make in a flat, circular or tubular version. Each version is more or less for a specific situation. For example, flat stitches are often use for bracelets, while tubular stitches are used mostly for ropes to hang your focal piece from. Of course, nothing is set in stone, you can make a long necklace using flat peyote and tubular herringbone to create a bracelet.
Which stitches are the most essential for you?
- Ladder stitch
- Herringbone (Ndebele) stitch
- Brick stitch
- Peyote stitch
- RAW (right angle weave) stitch
When you master these five, you can then have fun with other basic stitches like netting stitch, very similar Chenille stitch, square stitch, or St. Petersburg Chain. And if these are not enough for you or you might want to try something less traditional, you can dive into more recent stitches – Diamond Weave, Hubble stitch or Albion stitch. We will introduce these to you in another blog.
One last thing before we plunge into stitching, sometimes you can work using either one needle, or two needles at the same time. I personally don’t like to handle two sharp objects at the same time, so I am a fan of just one needle. Nevertheless, I would recommend to a beginner to try both methods to find what suits her or him the best.
Ladder stitch is probably the most basic stitch of them all. I wouldn’t personally even call it a stitch. Most of the time it is a starting point of your beadwork, followed by other stitches. You can work with one or two beads at the time, creating a base which you then use for adding other rows of herringbone stitch, brick stitch, or the above-mentioned Chenille stitch. You can work with both one and two needles.
Ladder Stitches Beadweaving Instructions – working with two needles:
How to Ladder Stitch with One Needle:
Herringbone (Ndebele) stitch
This is one of my personal favourites because of its many variations in use, look and versatility. It gained its name because of its distinctive look reminding people of the actual herringbone pattern. Some people call it also Ndebele stitch.
Flat herringbone stitch is great for bracelets of many styles which you can get by combining different beads, colours, inserting extra beads between rows and more. Try first the basic version.
Flat Herringbone Stitch How To:
Flat Herringbone Stitch (tutorial):
If you mastered the basics, you can try an upgrade:
Multiple Row Scalloped Herringbone Stitch
Herringbone stitch is also great for making ropes. The rope can be used to complement your focal piece, or it can stand on its own after adding some slight alterations to this style. You can create different designs just by changing the starting number of beads, you can begin with two, four, six, … You can make it simple or twisted, you can use different beads, you can insert beads between rows, or what have you.
How To – Tubular Herringbone Stitch:
Twisted Tubular Herringbone Stitch:
Embellished Tubular Herringbone Stitch:
To cover all possibilities, herringbone stitch also has a circular version which is usually used together with a peyote bezel done on a cabochon or a crystal.
Look at the amazing use of circular herringbone stitch in Chammak Challo earrings by Nela Kábelová.
Herringbone stitch is also a great alternative to this peyote bezel where you mix different bead sizes.
You can find more ways to play with the herringbone stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “herringbone”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=herringbone
Brick stitch is currently undergoing its renaissance since it is widely used in minimalistic jewellery, made mostly from Miyuki Delica beads, fine chains and geometrical or boho metal ornaments. You can check out lots of such inspiration on our Pinterest, to be more specific, on our BRICK stitch inspiration board. https://www.pinterest.com/potomacbeadco/brick-stitch-inspiration/
Nevertheless, brick stitch was always a popular stitch, especially the flat and circular variation which you can attach to various metal ornaments to give them an extra nice touch.
Brick stitch earrings with filigree components made by a member of PotomacBeads.com team, Bridgette Davidson.
How to Brick Stitch:
Brick Stitch Filigree Earrings:
How to Circular Brick Stitch:
You can find more ways to play with the brick stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “brick stitch”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=brick+stitch
Peyote stitch is an absolute must! It looks great by itself, it is very similar to brick stitch, but turned by 90°. Some projects even use them together – peyote for bezel and brick stitch for a bail. It can also serve as a base for the rest of a project that you build upon with other layers of your beadwork. After a peyote cabochon bezel, you can continue with already mastered herringbone, or not-yet-uncovered netting stitch. There are two basic types, the classic even count peyote and the odd count peyote which people often replace with brick stitch if possible (me included). Again, you can work with one or two needles.
Peyote Stitch Instructions – even count:
Odd Count Peyote Stitch Instructions:
How to Make Hollow or Tubular Peyote Stitch:
Circular Peyote Stitch;
Circular peyote is also great for making beaded beads as you will see in our upcoming videos. You can use seed beads, Superduo beads, and other kinds of beads.
Beaded beads made with circular peyote stitch by a member of PotomacBeads.eu, Tereza Drábková.
And what about a peyote bezel? Count me in! Peyote stitch for me is the one to reach for when I start a new project. It might be beadweaving, soutache, bead embroidery, whatever, but peyote is the thing I start with almost every time.
Mariele bracelet with bezeled Potomac Rivoli crystals using peyote stitch; made by a member of PotomacBeads.eu, Tereza Drábková.
You can find more ways to play with the peyote stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “peyote stitch”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=peyote+stitch
RAW (Right angle weave stitch)
Simple, yet very appealing, that is right angle weave stitch, aka RAW. Based on groupings of the same number of beads, most often four, creates a regular web of beads that can then be embellished with new layers of beads. You can work with one or two needles which, in the case of RAW, are probably used more often than just one needle. For me, RAW is the most complex stitch which offers you countless ways for enhancing your project. Very often jewellery made with RAW, or CRAW, looks so complicated (in a good way), but when you look closer, you realize that it’s just four by four beads repeating the whole time… and some embellishment.
Right Angle Weave Instructions (RAW):
Cubic / Circular / Tubular Right Angle Weave (CRAW):
RAW stitch is also suitable for bezeling a cabochon. This technique might take some time to master, but it is worth it!
Make an 1920’s Art Deco Cup Chain Ring!
You can find more ways to play with the RAW stitch on our YouTube Channel, just search for “RAW” or “CRAW”. https://www.youtube.com/user/Potomacbeadco/search?query=raw
This CRAW necklace was designed and created by potomacbeads.com team member, Ashley Krzanowski.
My final recommendation would be to persist in learning. Some master a new technique immediately, others may require more practice. If you are a visual learner, search our plentiful YouTube channel full of beadweaving and other videos to find what you need. If you are missing an essential video tutorial in our channel, let us know! There are also many beadweaving patterns on our website that can inspire you to create and learn new things. You can also join our Facebook group for Beading and Jewelry-Making where other members might answer your questions and help you as well!