How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern

Start with an easy peyote stitch pattern, like Geometric Gemstones by Anna Neff.

How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern: It's Easier Than You Think!

Do you love those gorgeous peyote stitch patterns for flat peyote but find yourself confused when it comes to actually reading them and stitching them up? You're not alone – when I asked a question on the Beading Daily Facebook page recently about how beaders keep track of where they are in a peyote stitch pattern, I found more and more comments from beaders who were struggling with how to read those peyote stitch patterns in the first place!

One of the reasons why I learned how to do beadwork was because I wanted to learn how to make peyote stitch amulet bags. (Remember those?!) And some of my favorite amulet bag patterns used a peyote stitch pattern or graph. Once I learned how to do flat peyote stitch, learning how to read those charted patterns was a whole new learning experience, and one that I find many beaders struggle with when they get started with peyote stitch.

Before You Get Started: Know Your Peyote Stitch Thread Path

I think the key to being able to read a peyote stitch graph is that you have to be very familiar with the mechanics of peyote stitch. Know the ins and outs of flat peyote in all its various forms before you try reading a peyote stitch pattern. If you are comfortable with and understand the thread path for flat peyote stitch, you can use that to make reading a peyote stitch pattern that much easier.

Remember that when you are working in flat peyote stitch, the first set of beads that you pick up will make up the first two rows. The first row of beads that you add after that will actually be your third row.

In this graph, I've colored each of the first four rows a different color. Row 1 is purple; Row 2 is green; Row 3 is blue; and Row 4 is yellow. This also gives you an idea of how to count your rows in flat peyote stitch: since each row is offset from the others, your counting should zig-zag back and forth. The thread path for flat peyote stitch creates a series of "up" beads that will stick out a little bit from the beads in the previous row. These are the beads that you stitch into when adding beads in each new row.

If you were to start stitching this as a peyote stitch pattern, you would pick up your first two rows of beads as they are numbered on the graph. Note that you're alternating between purple and green beads for your first two rows. The first bead that you add for Row 3 will be a blue bead, and you'll be stitching into that last green bead (number 20 on the graph) that you picked up as part of that first set. Adding those blue beads for Row 3 will create a set of "up" beads across the row.

Direction is very important when you're reading a peyote stitch pattern as well. If you start on the left side of the pattern and work your way to the right, you'll be working from right to left back across the pattern as you add the next row. If you're not going to finish the entire pattern in one session, it helps to mark the pattern on the side that you finished your last row so you know where to start when you're ready to start beading again!

Don't feel like you have to start working peyote stitch with a complicated pattern right from the beginning, either. Start with something simple that uses just a few colors and then work your way up to a more complex pattern!

Do you still need a little help with peyote stitch? Then you might want to check out Peyote Stitch – Basics and Beyond with Melinda Barta. If you already know a little bit about peyote stitch, it's a great way to enhance your skills. Beginners can find all the instruction they need to get started with peyote stitch basics, too. Because it's a digital download, there's no waiting for delivery through the mail: you can download this video onto your desktop or laptop computer and start learning peyote stitch today! If you're a bead lover, chances are that you already have all the necessary beads and materials to get started learning peyote stitch and all of its lovely variations. Check out Peyote Stitch – Basics and Beyond and find out why peyote stitch is so popular with beaders and bead lovers!

Do you have tips for beginners who are learning how to read peyote stitch patterns? Share your tips and advice here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog, Peyote Stitch
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!    

8 thoughts on “How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern

  1. Any easy way to keep track of where you are in a complicated peyote pattern is to get a metal board and flat magnetic strips, such as those used in counted cross stitch. They are available in all the big craft stores. Then you can attach the pattern to the board with some of the strips and use others to mark your row in the pattern, moving the flat magnetic strip down for every row you finish.

  2. I use super-sticky post-it notes to keep track of my spot in the pattern. They stay put and don’t take up much space — I like this, because I keep my projects in pencil cases!

  3. I slide the pattern into a clear sleeve (sold in office product stores). I then put the pattern in the sleeve on a clipboard and use a colored pen to mark each row. This is especially helpful when doing more complicated patterns that have a lot of color changes.

  4. Like Kathfor, I got the metal board, then I used one of those printable magnet sheets and cut the edge to match the “up” row. Now I just slide it as I go and I can instantly see exactly the beads I need to add. I found it still confusing when I could see part of the row below. I also add an extra red bead to the left side of my first row so there is never a problem with which side is which when I come back to work on it again.

  5. When I taught a peyote class at my local bead store, I had the students tape the starting thread to the table, then flip over their work to go in the other direction. That helps keep track of where to start the next row.
    I find that many of the directions I’ve seen feel backwards to me. I’ve always started on the right hand side of the row and worked across. Sometimes I hold the rows vertically and work from top to bottom but I find starting on the left side awkward.
    A helpful hint for starting from Leslie Rogalski: Put an extra needle through the first row to keep the beads from twisting.

  6. I have made many peyote bags and flat pieces and teach it, also. The easiest way to keep your place is to copy the pattern and then use a nice large headed pin to put in the pattern square. Mine has a pearl head. At the start , or for beginners, you can poke a hole in each square you do on the pattern copy and you never get lost! Only the copy will bear the pin holes and not the original.
    Bobbie Guillory

  7. I have always found it easier to begin by following the pattern from top to bottom. I guess I’m a renegade, but I prefer to see the design/picture develop this way, especially when working a pattern such as a tiger’s head.

    I also use a magnetic board, and a bar magnet to follow the pattern. These are often available in stores that sell counted cross stitch materials.

  8. How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern: It’s Easier Than You Think!
    is the blog post I like because I get confused when I do peyote with more than one color.