Five Secrets for Better Bead Embroidered Cabochons

Hello, my name is Jennifer VanBenschoten, and I am a cabochon addict. I admitted that fact years ago, although I'm not sure how much it's helped me. My cabochon collection seems to be growing exponentially every year with no end in sight. As long as I keep coming across gorgeous hand-cut gemstone cabochons, handmade ceramic cabochons and gorgeous resin cabochons, I'll just keep buying more storage bins to hold them all.

This just a sample of the handmade ceramic cabochons by Lisa Peters Art that I have in my collection. Should I open a museum?

My favorite technique for beading around cabochons is bead embroidery. Kind of ironic, since my very first attempt at a bead embroidered cabochon project ended with me chucking the cabochon into my drawer of unfinished projects where it stayed until just a couple of years ago. These days, I find that whipping up a couple of bead embroidered cabochons is what I like to do when I'm in between beading projects and just need to let my beady brain rest for a bit.

Lots and lots of trial and error have led me to refine my methods for stitching a peyote bezel around my cabochons using bead embroidery techniques and peyote stitch, but these five tips are what I've shared with my students when I'm teaching basic bead embroidery using cabochons.

Using double-sided tape means less mess than working with glue. And there's no waiting – you can start beading right away!

1. Forget about the glue. Since you'll be stitching a secure peyote bezel around your cabochon, why bother with messy, smelly glue? I'm one of those impatient beaders — when I get a bead in my bonnet, I want to start stitching right away. So instead of messing about with glue most of the time, I use double-sided tape to adhere my cabochon to the bead embroidery backing. My favorite is the Peel N Stick brand, available at your local craft store. To use it, trace around your cabochon and then cut it out about 1/4" inside your line.

2. Use size 11o cylinder beads. Once upon a time, I insisted on using size15o seed beads to stitch my peyote bezels. But then I wondered why it took me so long to stitch a peyote bezel around a cabochon! I realized that the cylinder beads actually made a better peyote stitch bezel around my cabochons. Because the cylinder beads are more even in shape, the bezel comes out tighter and more secure! The cylinder beads also allow for more thread passes, so they're great when you want to add embellishments around your cabochon.

3. Don't use a long length of thread. I used to stitch peyote bezels around cabochons using a very, very long piece of thread. Using a shorter piece of thread means less tangles and less time spent pulling all that thread through the beads as you stitch. I've also found that using a shorter length of thread for each part of the bead embroidery project means that if the thread breaks, I don't have to worry about ripping out a large portion of the beadwork. Instead, I use a shorter thread and just add new threads more often. It really is a huge time-saver when you're stitching a beaded bezel around a cabochon, and I think it makes your entire bead embroidery project more durable in the long run.

Don't worry if your first round of backstitch isn't perfect. Those little cylinder beads will line up together once you start working in peyote stitch!

4. Don't worry if your base ring isn't perfect. If the first ring of beads you stitch down around your cabochon isn't perfect, don't fret. Once you start working peyote stitch around the cabochon, you'd be amazed at how those little cylinder beads just line themselves up perfectly! Any imperfections in your stitching will also be less noticeable when you add a ring of beads around your cabochon before you continue working in bead embroidery.

Use a final round of size 15o seed beads to secure your peyote bezel.

5. Always finish with a round of size 15o seed beads. Because you want to stitch your peyote bezel until it just comes up over the edge of your cabochon, you might need to tighten it up. Instead of doing decreases using cylinder beads, add one (or more) round of size 15beads and pull snugly as you add each bead. If you can't find beads that don't match your cylinder beads exactly, use a high-contrast color or even a metallic seed bead to add some visual interest to your bezel. For a fancier bezel, stitch picots by adding a second row of 15o seed beads and skipping every other space. 

Once you get the hang of making a peyote stitch bezel around your cabochons using basic bead embroidery techniques, you'll be hooked! These beaded cabochons can be used for just about anything!

If you're ready to start learning new ways to use your cabochons, you'll want to check out the project sale going on right now in the Beading Daily shop. All projects are on sale for a limited time, so stock up on beading projects and get busy beading with those cabochons!

Do you have a tip for stitching a beaded bezel around a cabochon using bead embroidery? Leave a comment and share your tips and hints!

Bead Happy,


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Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

16 thoughts on “Five Secrets for Better Bead Embroidered Cabochons

  1. Oh!! I have a vast collection as well. I just wish I could bead as fast as my mind thinks up the ideas!! Just this weekend I tried my hand at making resin cabs. So far so good! Looks like The Collection will not have any end insight…as if it ever did. Lol!!

  2. I agree with the shorter thread length, not only for speed in beading, but also for strength in the final piece of beadwork. The more you need to drag a beading thread through beads or fabric, the higher the risk of the thread breaking down and the fibers beginning to separate. Once your thread begins to fray not only are you at a greater risk for knots and tangles, but the thread is no longer as strong.

    Another option for making sure your rows are even, not just your first bezel rows but all subsequent rows in bead embroidery, is to pass your needle and thread through all of the beads again a second time. Many times this will just help them all line up neatly. For the first bezel row this can be very helpful, specially to newbies, so that the beadwork is firm, holds its place, and then the rows of Peyote you place on top of it come out neat and tidy.

  3. To bead a bezel on a cabochon, I found putting an appropriate size strip of double back tape is the way to go. Put a string of beads, even or odd depending on you pattern. When it is secure and strait begin you second row of peyote stitch etc. hope this helps.

  4. Hello,
    I was excited to hear about beading a bezel for cabochons. I have made all of my own cabochons with semi-precious stone (lapidary). I found it strange to call something made of polymer clay or ceramic a cabochon. Some of my stones are transparent – why would I want to put a backing on those? Imagine aventurine, moss agate, rose quartz, rutilated and tourmalinated quartz, and several of the jades with a backing. Inner light brings out beauty in many stones. Also, my cabochon would not feel right with a backing. Apart from the classic oval cabochons, I have made lots of freeforms. I would love to know how to sew a narrow bezel – without a backing – for any shape of stone cabochon. I usually use Sterling Silver or Gold Filled wire to frame my work. It could be a very pretty change to use seed beads – definitely less expensive. Thanks.
    Trish Law

  5. I saw the topic and immediately clicked on it…I am one of a group of Lapidary Ladies. For us the Cab is the star but Silver is expensive so we are interested in beading our cabs HOWEVER we want to the back of our carefully worked stones to show as well as the front. Any ideas to help us?

  6. I teach beading around cabochons at William Holland School of Lapidary Arts. I would make one caution about using cylinder in the red family. Some of my students were using pinks & reds and using Fireline. The next day we found some of beads cut. Later in querying bead store owners as to why this would happen, I found out that Fireline when pulled tightly can cut the red family because their walls are thinner. I recommend to my students to use Nymo or related threads for cabs.

  7. I’m not sure if you do the same in the US, but here in the UK if we are making a comment about an expletive that we don’t want to say, we refer to it as the “X word.” X being the expletive’s initial letter. In our Beadworkers Guild UK ( we have a “G word” ie glue!! We do use extra tacky double sided tape though until the cabochon is secured.

    As one who has made various fused glass cabochons, I prefer open backed bezelling methods. Most stitches can be used for open backed bezelling. You could also adapt the techniques used for bezelling Rivolis.

    Try a round of Right Angle Weave (in 11s/ Delicas/ 15s to fit your cab. If needed work another round of RAW to the depth of you cab. Join the ends to form a ring. Then work a row of Peyote between the RAW “turret” beads. Work one or two more Peyote rounds decreasing either by stitches or by bead size to fit the top of your cab. Then work your thread to the back of your RAW strip to repeat the Peyote rows on the back.

    A method I developed for my fused glass, before gaining confidence in Peyote was published in issue 38 of the BWG Journal (only available to members but International members welcome see above URL). Ladder stitch a strip of cube beads – only 4mm cubes were available to me at that time, Join the ends to form a ring. Then work rounds of decreasing bead sizes, if using 4mm cubes then 6s, 8s, 11s, 15s as required to fit round the cab. If using smaller cubes, then you will need to use smaller sized seed beads.

    Jennifer Airs has just finished series of articles on open backed bezelling in the UK’s “Bead Magazine,” available in both digital and print formats (

    I hope this is helpful

    Allison C aka Twoll5 :-))

  8. Ooooops! I forgot to specify in the above comment that I used Brick Stitch in decreasing bead sizes for the front and back of my Ladder Stitched cube method.

    Happy Beading

    Allison C aka Twoll5

  9. I love your comment about being a cabochon addict and that admitting it didn’t necessarily help. I’m addicted to beads of all kinds, and just took a course in metalwork. Maybe we could start some 12-step program for bead addicts…..

  10. I am a complete newbie to bead embroidery although I have embellished my quilts with a lot of beading. So, first question – what backing should I use?

  11. For a bead embroidery or an open back bezel, I like to start with a row of RAW. Embroidery: Leave a 10″ tail and work RAW with #11 cylinders for about an inch. Glue/tape the cabochon to the foundation. Put a needle on the tail and sew down the 1st “floor” bead of the first RAW stitch to the foundation. Tie off tail at back of foundation. Continue working RAW until it is long enough to form a snug circle around the cabochon when linked to the 1st RAW stitch. Now sew down all the “floor” beads in each stitch to the foundation. This gives you the height of 3 peyote rows on your bezel and you end up with an even number of beads in your top row automatically. I work peyote for 2 or 3 more rows, ending with #15 beads for my last row to tighten it.
    Open back bezel: Work RAW to form the 1st outside circumference row on the cabochon. work 2-3 rows of peyote, ending with #15s. Fit to the back of the cab to get proper tension and pass thru all beads again and knot. Move thread to other side of RAW and work 1 row of peyote. Put cab in place, snug up the row by passing through all beads again. Continue to work front of bezel with as many rows as you wish.
    Of course you can work either bezel with all RAW, which really speeds up the process!