Getting Started with Ladder Stitch
Ladder stitch is one of those stitches that rarely gets any attention in its own right. Instead, it's used mainly as a foundation for other stitches. Many brick stitch patterns begin with a row of ladder stitch, as do some herringbone stitch patterns. In Mastering Beadwork author Carol Huber Cypher uses ladder stitch to join daisy chain units, while in Beadwork Catherine B. Benecke combines ladder stitch with peyote stitch in her Cube Bead Bracelet. It's definitely a useful stitch to know and the good news is that it's one of the easiest to learn.
A Common Problem
When I did a demo of ladder stitch at Bead Fest Philadelphia last summer, the most common problem I noticed was loose or uneven tension which made the row look like this:
instead of a neat row like this:
What can you do to fix this problem?
Ladder Stitch Tips
If you're new at ladder stitch, grab a copy of Getting Started with Seed Beads by Dustin Wedekind. Not only does Dustin explain the stitch, but he also shows you how to begin with clear step-by-step illustrations which he drew himself. You'll also learn how to use ladder stitch to create simple jewelry and beaded beads, how ladder stitch differs from right-angle weave, and how to use ladder stitch as the basis for brick stitch and herringbone stitch projects. (Plus, it's 25% off through January 12th, since it's one of our "top 10" bestsellers of 2008!)
In the meantime, here are a couple of tricks to try:
- Start with certain types of beads. Bugle beads or other beads with long sides are the easiest to use for ladder stitch. Cube beads (like the ones shown in this week's free project) are also easier to grasp and hold in position while you stitch.
- Try stacking short, round beads in twos or threes rather than stitching them singly.
- Make sure your beads are the same size. This sounds obvious, but it's all too easy when working with seed beads to let a stray oversized or undersized bead ruin your lovely, even ladder. (Read Jean Campbell's article on culling seed beads if you want tips on seed bead sorting.)
- Pass your thread through the beads a second time in order to tighten the tension. (Or begin with a thicker thread or fishing line that better fits the size of the holes.)
What other tips for ladder stitch do you have? Share your tips on the website.
The base of this sparkly bracelet is constructed with ladder stitch using cube-shaped beads. This free bracelet pattern from Step by Step Beads magazine was available free through January 23, 2009.
The free period has ended. Project instructions are for sale in the store.
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Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.