Learn St. Petersburg Chain

I woke up this morning quite aware that more than half of 2009 is already finished! It was hard for me to believe, especially since we haven’t had much of a summer here in the Midwest and I count on those hot midsummer days to get me through the rest of the year here on the tundra.  Anyway, the realization made me do a mental check on my New Year’s resolutions. I listed them on Beading Daily in December 2008:

• Do 10 pull-ups . . . in a row. HA!

• Count to 20 in Mandarin. Nope, but I did discover babblefish.com; does that count?

• Learn 1 new beading stitch. Yes!

Hurray! I did learn a new stitch this year—St. Petersburg chain. I’d seen it in lots of Russian-style lacy beadwork and thought it would be a good one to add to my bag of tricks. I like it for how fast it moves, but also for its strength. Since it’s a cousin to square stitch, you end up passing through the beads several times, reinforcing as you go.  The Royal Chains Lariat by Kelly Wiese in the upcoming October/November issue of Beadwork uses St. Petersburg Chain.  Subscribe to Beadwork now so you don't miss it! 

Learn St. Petersburg Chain
As I mentioned, St. Petersburg Chain is strong, fast, and very pretty. It’s a little tricky to get the hang of, but by the time you’re an inch into it, it’ll be second nature. When learning, it’s best to use two colors of seed beads. For this step-by-step I’ll use matte olive and transparent berry size 11°s:

1. String on a tension bead (for which I’ve used a light green size 8°). String 2 olive beads, 1 berry bead, and 2 olive beads.

2. Pass through all 4 of the olive beads again, skipping the berry bead altogether. This creates a square of beads with a little picot at one end.

3. String 4 olive beads (A); pass through the first 2 beads just strung, making sure this little square of beads is snug to the other beadwork (B). 

4. String 1 berry bead; pass back through the last 2 olive beads just exited, plus one more (A); pull tight (B).

5. String 1 berry bead; pass through the third and fourth olive beads added in Step 3, then pull tight.

    6. Repeat Steps 3-5 to desired length.

    Pretty nice, eh? Is St. Petersburg chain one that you use often? For what? Have you learned a new stitch this year? What about your other resolutions? Give us the low-down on the website.

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    Michelle M.

    About Michelle M.

    I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work.

    16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily.

    Contact Info
    If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick.

    If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks

    Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

    45 thoughts on “Learn St. Petersburg Chain

    1. Just two days ago I learned this stitch. Fun to work up in any size bead, and so many variations possible. The other stitch I learned last week is the Spiral Stitch. Equally fun. I try to learn something new as often as possible, but sometimes there are months-long dry spells, possibly caused by too many hobbies or every-day stuff. Could do w/o that last bit… As always, thanks Jean

    2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the clear and concise directions! Didn’t learn any new languages unless you include “teenspeak”, did begin exercising, but NOT 10 pullups in a row and now I’ve learned a new stich


    3. This looks fun and useful, too. I LOVE this website. I get it at work so it’s very frustrating….I’d like to pull out some beads and thread and try it but have to wait til I get home. This website has so much great stuff and what I like best is that it makes these artists/authors so very real and personable.

    4. Other resolutions? Huh! Loose 15 lbs – Not yet
      Learn 3 new bead stitches – accomplished
      Paint the living room – Not yet
      Submit project to Beadwork Magazine – Almost
      Other household projects – Not yet.
      Funny how the only resolutions finished or almost finished are bead related. N

    5. Could you show the stitch to us in some other designs? I am a newbie and don’t know how I’d apply this in another piece than as you’ve shown for a little bracelet. Thank you.

    6. I love the way this stitch looks, but I just couldn’t get into a rhythm doing it. Seemed awkward. Also, I had a problem with the contrasting seed bead on the top of the row turning doughnut face up that I couldn’t resolve by altering tension or method. I’ll probably play around a little bit more with this stitch because it is so beautiful, strong, and relatively quick to do, and I did find a way to turn it and create subsequent rows that I thought looked pretty fantastic, but I don’t know that I’d use it very often because of my awkwardness in doing it. I think multiple strands with different colors would make a great bracelet or necklace.

    7. Yes, I learned a new stitch this year… from an article… St. Petersburg chain. I agree it’s easy once you make a few stitches and ‘get the hang of it’. I learned something else — I shouldn’t try to learn a new stitch using size 15/0 (a sponsor of our club donated some and they are nice, but a little too small for me for learning the stitch, but that’s what I used for my learning sample), but, hey, if you do, then after that, larger size beads will be a breeze. My second St. Pete project used 4mm round glass pearls in, er, white pearl and gold colors. It didn’t take long to make a bracelet. On that one, I learned that, if you don’t want a good deal of thread to show, you may want to stick with cylinder beads.

    8. I was looking at how you did the St.Petersburg chain and you made it look simple. I’ve seen the stitch in other beading magazines and it looked so complicated. After I saw you’re method I think that I’m ready to try it.

    9. Hi,
      this must be the new stitch for the summer. It’s showing up everywhere. I watch a demo at “Aunties beads”/ You Tube.
      I felt it was something I wanted to learn since its a beautiful pattern/ stitch. Thanks so much to Beading Daily, you surely made it look easy can’t wait to get home tonight and try out your instructions.

      I just love your website. Your so good at feeding us bead information. I also like the fact that you can ask questions and get
      answers too. Again, thanks to all the staff and to all who respond on this website.
      Mona Lisa

    10. Oh my goodness..I thought I had learned enough new stitches for one year, but you know what, I Love this stitch.
      As soon as I opened the email, I got out my nymo and needle and went to town! I also have learned the African Net and a Spiral Rope Stitch this year. All great techniques. Keep them coming! I Love learning new things.

    11. I must be a total lame-o because I could not get this AT ALL! I couldn’t figure out after step 4…it would never come out right…after tearing it out about a half a dozen times…I had to quit or my hair was going to be next…maybe I’ll try it some other time…too frustrated today

    12. The details are well photographed. Easy to follow. I learned this St.Petersburg Chain, from a friend,I can never remember how to start or finish. Soo, you can imagine, my dissapointment, that I can see it online, but “can not save it,”for future reference. So, Can someone tell me how to do that. Thanks Mary

    13. Thank you for the great instructions. I would like a copy to save, but it printed out on three pages. The instructions alone would have fit on one page. Could you, at least on future instructions, give us a link to a printer friendly page? It would save ink and paper. Thanks

    14. I really didn’t know where that piece was going looking at the first pictures and when I scrolled down to the end picture I was amazed. It looks beautiful. I must try this soon.


    15. Pattern Printing/Saving info:
      Select (highlight) text and pictures you want to save/print. Right click, select “copy”. Open your word processing program with new blank page, right click, select “paste”. It shouldn’t be more than 2 pages. If more, try to adjust margins and spaces. Then print and/or save. – Hope this helps

    16. There is a nice version of this stitch in the July-Aug 09 issue of Step-by-Step Beads, it’s “Blue Ice” by Lynn Davy. That’s the one which inspired me to try this stitch

    17. hi, i have loved St.Petersburg stitch because it’s beautiful, easy, and you can do many different variations with it. i did single, and changed the center bead to a larger one, and i’ve done double St.Petersburg also! i have a picture on flickr that shows two variations in the same pic. i thought i’d share it, if that’s ok. plus one other one i made special for my daughter in law, and her turtle! 😉




      and, one more variation…earrings!! 😉

      hope you like the variations. it’s a fun stitch! use ANY beads for it.

    18. I’m new @thread beading, bit have been making other jewelry for 30 yrs. This stitch is so delicate, I found it easy following the greay picture directions. Bicone crystals would look beautiful as the outer bead.

    19. This comment is directed to Gina. Those pieces were wonderful. I would be interested in learning how to do a double St. Petersburg Chain. Can you direct me to the instructions? Thanks for the insight.

    20. hi – I really like the look of st petersberg chain but have never quite got the hang of it so this step-by-step is great – only problem, the instruction for step 3 was left off the email and I found it a tad difficult trying to work it out by the pictures – it was good see all of the instructions on the website and made it much easier to work it out. And I love beading daily and Beading Daily….

    21. This looks like a stitch from an old Bead and Button called the Winnebago, which is (obviously?) a Native American bead pattern. I tried one. Quick and nice little flourish with beads extending off side without having to go back through to embellish!
      Dori Rhodes, Beadorables

    22. Tk u for this stich Mi favourite is RAw but with I hope to do more variation I read about the double St Ptersburg(Gina) Is there a possibility to also show us how to do this I”m always anxious to see what Beading has for us ervery Week Tks a lot Love your site chichi

    23. I love this stitch, works up fast, and the colour combinations are never ending. Thank you for putting up the instructions, they are very explanatory and easy to follow.

    24. to all who liked my pics of Herringbone variations, i will mail you the how to. 😉 and thanks! i’m so glad you liked it.
      i shouldn’t have used white fire line with the green double, but i think smoke would have looked worse. i don’t like my fireline to show. just give me a bit, and i’ll find it and send it along, if that’s ok with the Beading Daily folks. 😉

    25. Gina, your pics are beautiful. I’ve been asked to make earrings to match a St. P. necklace and had pondered a few ideas. I think my client would love yours. My client – hah! I hadn’t planned to sell anything this year, but when someone wants the bracelet I’m making & asks for a necklace & earrings to accompany it, I’m not about to say no. Since I’d been wanting to make a St.P necklace for some time I suggested it to her.

    26. Gina, I work on a Mac. Can you tell me how I can get to see the pictures that all are raving about. I am so new at stitching that I don’t even know what size needle to use. I see that Nymo is the thread. RAW is the only one I have got down pat. Want so badly to learn others so really appreciate any help. Also how to begin & ending for a bracelet or necklace. Keep up the good work Jean. Maybe now you can show how to double it etc. Heather

    27. It is a vey pretty stitch. i sew in magagin en earing made with this stich , there was a rivoli in the middele and around st petersburg. they looked very beautiful.