5 Tips for Learning a New Beading Stitch

Sep 6, 2011

See stitches clearly with exclusive thread-path illustrations
Being a (mostly) self-taught beader, I discovered the advantages and drawbacks of learning my beading skills from books and videos. (That was back in the Stone Age when all we had was a VCR!) It was easy enough for me to follow the diagrams and directions in my favorite beading books, and the videos were a nice way for me to see how certain beadweaving techniques were done.

But there are some things that I know now that I wish I had known then! Some of these I've learned from teaching others, and some were taught to me as I took more classes and gradually expanded my off-loom beadweaving skills. If you're struggling with a new beading stitch, there are a few things that you can do to make your learning experience a little easier.

 


Using a larger size seed bead (like these size 8 Delica beads) can make learning a new beadweaving stitch much easier on your eyes!

Use large beads. Instead of learning right-angle weave with size 15o beads, try using something larger such as an 8o or even a 6o. Larger beads means that it's easier to see your thread path and easier to see where your next bead should go. For learning stitches such as herringbone, brick stitch, and peyote stitch, size 8o cylinder beads are ideal.

Use a thicker thread. Just like using larger beads, using a thicker thread will help keep your beadwork stiff. Because your tension might not be absolutely perfect the first few times you try a new beading stitch, a thicker weight beading thread will add some body to your beadweaving.

Use light-colored beads and a dark-colored thread. The light-colored beads will be easier to see against the dark-colored thread, and the dark-colored thread will make it easier to find your thread path (the direction in which you need to stitch).

Use a short length of beading thread. The last thing you need to be worried about is untangling a knot from your beading thread. Working a new beadweaving stitch can be much easier if you use a shorter length of beading thread. You won't have to spend so much time pulling that thread through the beads, and you won't have to worry about stopping to remove a pesky knot.

Get comfortable. I know this might sound a little crazy, but don't try to learn a new beading stitch while perched on the edge of the bathtub while your three-year-old is taking a bath. (It's been done by others, not by me!) Make a nice space for yourself when you sit down to bead - find a comfortable chair, make sure you have good lighting, put on some good music, and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Beadweaving should be enjoyable, so make sure that you make yourself comfortable before you get started

Learn Even-Count Peyote!

Doodlebeads Volume 1 will teach you the basics of twelve essential off-loom beadweaving stitches





Learn Fringes!

When you're ready to learn new embellishment techniques, check out Doodlebeads Volume 2



Now, if you're ready to learn a few new beadweaving stitches, there's one more resource you should have handy. Check out bead artist Leslie Rogalski's Doodlebeads Volume 1 for great instruction in twelve basic beadweaving stitches. You'll learn the basics of even and odd count peyote stitch, brick stitch, square stitch, herringbone stitch and more! Once you're comfortable with the basics of beadweaving and are ready to teach yourself some new variations on your basic beadweaving stitches, then you're ready for Doodlebeads Volume 2 where Leslie will show you techniques for adding fringe, increasing and decreasing, popular chain stitches and 2-drop variations of your favorite beading stitches. And the best part is that they're both on sale as part of the StashBuster sale going on now!

If there are any self-taught beaders out there with some nuggets of wisdom to share, we'd love to have you leave a comment on the blog! Or if there's something you know now that you wish you knew when you were first learning how to do beadweaving, let us know - you might be able to help another beginning beader overcome a hurdle!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

sootfoot5 wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 12:32 AM

I couldn't agree more, especially about the short length of thread.  I still use shorter thread than what is usually called for.  People often say they don't want to add more thread, but I'd much rather add more thread than deal with tangles.  Tangles and knots will just frustrate you, and beading is supposed to be fun or relaxing or for whatever GOOD reason you're doing it, not to make you feel tense.  After I watched Karla Kam on Auntie's Beads show how to add more thread, I never again worried about using shorter thread, and I've had few knots and tangles since.  Thanks Karla - and Jennifer, you're right on target with all 5 of your pointers.  

TashaMc wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 2:16 AM

When I'm trying something new, I tend to annotate (ok, scribble all over) the instructions or pattern I'm following. Which makes my best tip this:

Take a photocopy of your pattern, so that when you scribble all over it you still have the clean original to refer back to.

kraftykitty wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 4:44 AM

I'm very new to beading, and self taught also. The first stitch I learned was the peyote and it was making me crazy until I figured out that the 1st 2 rows could be done using 2 colors, laying it out every other color, then stringing, starting with the 3rd row. (a,b,a,b,a,b etc, then 3rd row a's through the b's) then I was on my way. Love your magazine and newsletters.

on Sep 8, 2011 9:58 AM

Great tips, Jen! I'm definitely adding this to tomorrow's roundup on About.com Beadwork. :)

NancyB@5597 wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 8:05 PM

If I had to start from the very beginning again, I would learn right angle weave first.  I might not be able to do a very good job of explaining this but here goes; I feel that with RAW, you don't learn any pre-conceived ideas about thread paths as you do with all the other stitches. If you learn this one first, the others becomes so easy to learn. Whereas, if you learn (as I did) peyote first, your brain gets wired a certain way about how thread paths should go. And the other stitches reinforce that thinking, making it kind of hard to learn RAW. Every person I've known who learned RAW first, found it very easy to learn every other stitch, but it doesn't seem (to me, anyway) to be true the other way around.  Hope this makes some kind of sense.  

NANDAL wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 8:12 PM

Love the tips on beading. I am trying to learn, but am having problems because I am left handed and nothing comes out right. Any ideas on where I can find left hand instructions for the various beading stitches?

on Sep 9, 2011 8:29 AM

I am self taught and love the various resources that exist on the internet. I learned peyote stitch first and that is my truest love. I've done some right angle weave as well. I've tried herringbone but i just don't like it as well as peyote. So tips: 1-big eye needles WILL fit through 11/0 seed beads. Smaller than that and you are probably out of luck. 2- Mono-filament fish line works great and is inexpensive and lasts forever for seed bead weaving. I found that really liberating since the nymo and various other lines were driving me a little crazy. 3-When weaving have multiple needles threaded with shorter lengths of thread if using the traditional needles with the smaller eyes. (Realistically, I don't do this but it seemed like a good idea when I read about it.) 4-A magnifier and light are a god send at times. There are just some days when seeing that needle eye isn't happening. Thanks.

on Sep 10, 2011 6:38 PM

Best lesson I learned to keep frustration down .... if you do it once, its a mistake; do it twice and its a design.

Also self-taught, the first stitch I learned was basic spiral.  Very forgiving stitch, so I could make mistakes while learning about the 'behaviour' of beads and threads, and still end up with something wearable from the get-go.