Free Bead Embroidery Project: Agate Slice Pins

Mar 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, my husband and my 6 year old son went off on an "adventure" while I was attending a training workshop, and when I arrived home, my son presented me with a few beautiful agate slices that he had chosen for me from a museum gift shop. I was so touched by the beautiful gift, and my son immediately asked me how I planned on making them into jewelry so that I could keep them forever! The obvious answer, for me, was to use bead embroidery to turn them into wearable bead art!

Being the rock hound that I am, I've got lots of gemstone slices in my collection. I love how easy it is to use bead embroidery with these beautiful natural gemstones to make handmade beaded jewelry. If you've got a couple of these gemstone slices in your bead stash, try this easy, free bead embroidery project to turn them into beautiful beaded brooches! These bead embroidered agate slice pins are also a great way to make the leap from using calibrated cabochons to using unusually-shaped found objects in your bead embroidery projects. Give 'em a go!

Agate Slice Bead Embroidery Pins

By Samantha McNesby

These pins are fast and easy to make and a great way to use leftover beads. Agate slices are available in bead shops, rock and gem stores, and some craft stores. They come in a variety of shapes and colorations. Look for interesting color combinations and pretty crystal centers.


  • 1 1/8" thick agate slice
  • Size 10 seed beads
  • Size E seed beads
  • Mixture of 3-5 styles and colors of beads, about the same size as seed beads
  • Accent beads (4mm round beads, teardrops, crystal bicones or rounds)
  • Size B nylon beading thread, or 6 lb. test beading thread
  • Heavy interfacing 1" larger all around than the agate
  • Small scrap of leather or imitation suede to match size of agate slice
  • 1" pin back
  • E6000 glue


  • Size 12 beading needle
  • Scissors or thread cutter
  • Embroidery scissors

Step 1: Check both sides of your agate and glue the least desirable side to the center of the interfacing. Let it dry.

Step 2: Round 1: Tie a knot at one end of 1 yard of thread. Use a single color of seed beads to back stitch by passing the needle up through the interfacing at the edge of the agate. *String 5 beads. Lay the beads flat against the agate and pass the needle through the interfacing at the edge of the fifth bead. Pass the needle back up between the third and fourth beads, and pass through the fourth and fifth beads. The beads should be secure and rest flat against the interfacing and the agate. Repeat from * around the agate. When you near the beginning of the round, string enough beads to fill the gap, and pass the needle through the first five beads and into the interfacing.

Round 2: Use a single color of E beads to back stitch, attaching a second round of beads close to the first round without overlapping.

Round 3: Use a mixture of beads that complement the agate and the first two rounds of beads to create a looped round. Do so by *passing the needle up between the two rounds of beads. String 6 beads and pass through the interfacing two E beads down and on the outside of the E beads (Figure 1). Repeat from * around the agate. You may need fewer than 6 beads for the last loop.

Step 3: Make fringes using a mixture of bead sizes and colors with matching accent beads. Decide which side of the pin will be the top, and pass the needle up through the interfacing 1/2" from the center top of the pin. String a fringe row of beads, enough to reach across the agate and allow the accent beads to dangle at the center. The number of beads needed will vary according to the size and shape of the agate. Repeat, adding a second loop of fringe above the first. Knot the thread securely on the back of the interfacing.

Step 4: Use scissors to carefully trim away the excess interfacing around the edge of the pin. Glue a piece of leather to the back and let dry. Carefully trim the leather. Sew or glue the pin back to the leather. Let dry several hours before wearing.

Aurora Borealis bead embroidered collar, Beadwork magazine, April/May 2013, designed by Sharon Lester

Stay on top of new ideas and new techniques for bead embroidery when you subscribe to Beadwork magazine. Each issue is full of innovative, inspiring beading projects that use all of your favorite off-loom beading techniques: peyote stitch, right-angle weave, herringbone stitch, netting, and of course, bead embroidery! Subscribe to Beadwork magazine and indulge your passion for off-loom beading techniques.

Bead Happy,


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