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What is beadweaving? It is a weaving technique used to create anything from jewelry to animals and boxes using beads, adding them one by one. This technique is very time-demanding and mastering it requires practice, time and patience. The real and fair price of the beadwoven jewelry easily equals that of jewelry made from precious metals. Even experienced jewelry makers need lots of time to make a piece and the quality material is not a cheap thing.
Beadweaving uses several stitches, one of them being the peyote stitch that I will teach you in this tutorial. And I’ll not just teach you the stitch, I’ll also show you how to use it and make a flower, a ring and weave around a rivoli. You can choose any colors you like but in case you want to use the same like mine, there’s a detailed description of the material used below.
- beads – 2 sizes
- beading needle – these John James needles are the best!
- beading thread
Quality material is really important here. If you want to just try beadweaving and you are willing to accept that you might not like the result you can work with what you find at home – nameless beads and normal using thread. However, if you want to work smoothly and the result to be worth anything, you will have to invest into the material and tools. Check out the online stores with beading supplies and maybe there’s even a shop in your town (in Czech Republic it is really easy to get quality beads and supplies especially in bigger cities).
The beading needles are different from usual sewing needles. They are very thin and don’t get thicker around the eye, which makes it possible for them to pass through the beads. You can get them in many sizes marked with numbers. The higher the number, the thinner the needle. I use John James needles and as a general rule I’d say that for beads size 15 (Japanese) you need a needle size 15 and for beads size 11 you need a needle size 12.
If you want to make quality jewelry, you just cannot use some cheap nameless beads. They tend to be very irregular, stain etc. Basically, you have two options – Czech or Japanese beads. The Czech beads are made in the city of Jablonec, home of the Preciosa beads and the famous Czech glass industry. We can be proud of it, it is of a very high quality and well knows all around the world. It comes is hundreds of shapes, colors and finishes. The Japanese beads are more expensive and it’s suitable especially for projects that require a high level of regularity – the Japanese beads tend to be really very very regular in shape. Some of the good Japanese marks are TOHO, Miyuki or Matubo.
You will need beads of two sizes for this project, bigger amount of the larger beads and just very few of the smaller ones – I am using the following (Japanese):
- red – TOHO TR-11-45 (flower and ring)
- black – TOHO TR-11-49F (flower and rivoli)
- white – TOHO TR-11-41 (flower and rivoli rivoli)
- green – TOHO TR-15-44 (rivoli)
Rivoli is the crystal I’m using in the center of the flower. It’s a crystal stone shaped pointy towards the center. The most famous rivoli are made by Swarovski, nowadays there are also cheaper copies on the market.
Same like the needles, the beadweaving thread is quite different from a sewing thread. It is flat and with a smooth finish to pass easily through the very thin eye of the beading needle. Probably the most famous thread is the nylon thread called NYMO which comes in many colors and sizes from 00 (thinnest) to F (thickest). You have to choose the thickness of your thread according to the bead size and you have to choose your needle according to the thickness of the thread.
Another famous and really good thread is the Fireline.
For this project I’m using red NYMO in size B for the flower and ring and black NYMO in size B for the rivoli.
Remember, glue and knots have no place in a beadwoven jewelry when it comes to finishing one thread and starting another. When you start a project, when you finish the piece of thread you had cut and when you thread on a new piece, you NEVER use glue and knots or at least a professional jewelry maker will never do that. If you really need to make a knot you should find a way to hide it and make sure no one will ever see it – but that would need to be some very exceptional case. Using glue is never justifiable. Later on I will show you how to finish a piece of thread and start a new one.
Before you start I recommend you to prepare some bowls for the beads or a fleece pad on which you can distribute the beads according to their size and color. Bowls and fleece make it harder for the beads to escape.
Cut a piece of thread comfortable to work with. I’d say it’s about 70 cm, 1 meter max – you’ll figure it out with time. Thread the needle and leave one end shorter. Thread on 19 beads.
Put the needle back through the 4th bead from the end.
This is what it will look like when you tighten the thread.
Add 1 bead. Skip one bead in the row and put the needle through the next one.
This is what it looks like. This is the peyote stitch – you keep adding one bead skipping one in the original row and after that you add beads to the spaces between beads.
Continue until the whole row is dome. As you can see there are two beads next to each other at the end.
Put the needle back through the last but one bead and then through one more bead. Thread 1 bead and put the needle through the last bead (last black bead in the photo). So now your needle has come through the last bead once again. And once again, go back two beads and now you will be adding 1 bead at a time and filling the spaces.
Finish the row and your needle will come through the last bead of the previous row.
Thread 4 beads and pass the needle back through the first of them.
Tighten the thread and this is what it’ll look like.
Continue with this stitch until you finish the row. At the end of this row you don’t add any beads. Pass the needle back through the last bead you added and continue with the peyote stitch.
Once again, you’ll pass the needle through the last bead of the previous row.
Thread 2 beads this time and pass the needle through the last bead you added.
On the other side, just go back through the last bead you added and add another row – you can see now that the rows get shorter on one side (this will be the bottom of the petal).
Add 2 beads at the top again and go down.
And then once again up and add 2 beads, go down and up.
This time add just 1 bead and go back through the last bead you added in the previous row.
Don’t add anything at the bottom. Nothing changes here.
And now don’t add anything at the top either, just put the needle through the last bead you added and go down again.
You have finished one half of the petal and it’s probable that you’re out of thread. So let’s have a look at how to finish it and thread a new one.
To finish the thread, put it several times through the same beads in a loop. Here are some pics with arrows to make it more clear:
You put the thread through the same beads a few times then you move a little further and do the same. Do this as many times as you want and then just cut the thread.
When you want to start a new piece of thread, you do the same. Put the thread through one bead leaving a short end. Then go on doing the same loops in several places and cut the short end of the thread. Continue with the needle to wherever you want to continue beading.
So now you have one half of the petal and you need to get your needle to the other side and to the bottom. Pull the needle through the last but one bead and you’ll continue beading as the arrow shows.
So here is where you will start the other half.
And once again, do the peyote stitch and go up, add 4 beads and then 2 beads in the next three rows, adding nothing at the bottom of the rows. In the last but one row, add just one bead and nothing in the last row. Just repeat the same steps like when you were beading the first half.
This is the almost finished petal.
Pass the needle to the upper corner, thread one bad (pointed at by the green arrow) and pass it through the first of the four beads.
Thread one more bead and pass the needle through the next bead. Now lead the thread as the blue arrow shows – down and back up until you pass it through the third of the four top beads. Now add another bead and pass the needle through the next bead.
Do the same on the top of the other half of the petal.
Now the petal is completely finished. You need 4 more petals.
Assembling the Petals
Let’s assemble the flower. Not counting the last single bead at the bottom, pass the needle through the first bottom bead and then through the first bottom bead of another petal.
Pass the needle back through the first bead from the other size and pull on the thread.
Go back with the needle in the second bead and this time pass it through then second bead from the top (in this row). Then go in the second bead of the first petal, come back through the second bead of the second petal and go through the third bead. Continue creating loops between all the pairs of beads until you’re done with the row. Don’t connect the last pair.
Connect the other petals in the same way. This is your flower.
Thread an even number of beads, the row shouldn’t be longer than the phalanx you’re going to wear the ring on.
Thread another bead and pass the needle through the second bead from the top.
Thread another bead, skip one bead and pass the needle through the next bead. As you can see, you are still using the peyote stitch.
Finish the row and pass the needle through the first bead of the previous row.
Thread one bead and pass the needle through the last bead you added. Continue with now the known stitch – keep on adding beads and filling the spaces.
Make more rows.
Until the stripe is long enough to go around your finder. Just watch out for one thing – comparing the beads in one line in the picture you can see that at one end the bead sticks out whilst at the other end of the line the bead is the other way. So that you can connect the ends, you need to have beads out at one end and in at the other end. If you don’t have that, just add one more row of peyote stitch.
Put the ends of the stripe together and you’ll be joining them. Pass the needle through the bead that doesn’t stick out and then through the bead that does.
From now on go from side to side only passing the needle through the beads that stick out. In the photo you can see how it looks when all the right beads are connected with the thread. Here’s the same photo with arrows showing you where to pass the thread:
Pull on the thread and now you have to connect the upper two beads.
Pass the needle through one bead out and the other one in.
Finish the thread as was shown above, cit the thread ends and the ring is done.
Thread an even number of beads of the larger size (I used size 11). The amount pf beads depends on the size of your rivoli. I used a rivoli with the diameter of 14 mm and 30 beads were just enough (for rivoli 12 it was 26 beads).
Then put the needle through the first 4 beads again to create a circle.
Thread 1 bead and do what you already know – the peyote stitch – skip one bead and pass the needle through the next one.
This is what you get.
Thread another bead, skip one and go through the next.
Continue until you make a whole row.
After the row is finished, your needle should come out of one of the beads that “stick out”. Now you’ll be adding beads and filling the spaces – you already know this.
This is what it looks like when you finish another row.
Place the rivoli in the circle you just created to make sure it fits.
Continue with another row of beads but this time use smaller beads.
Then add yet another row and with this you finished the bottom of your beaded rivoli.
Place the rivoli in the beaded structure (don’t take it out anymore) and turn it around. Now you’ll be beading the top.
Pass the needle so you can continue working on the top. You have to add 3 rows using smaller beads. When you’re done, finish the thread and cut the ends. If one of the ends is long enough, you can keep it and use it to attach the rivoli to the flower.
Assembling the Ring
And now is the time to assemble the whole ring. I can’t show you exactly where to pass the needle but it’s actually simple. Place the rivoli in the center of the flower and keep passing your needle with the thread alternatively through the beads on the bottom of the rivoli and through the beads on the petals. You should come around the whole rivoli. Then just finish the thread in the usual way and cut it.
Let’s continue with the ring.
Turn the flower back side up and place the ring in the center. You have to connect the flower with the ring in the same way you did with the rivoli and the flower. Go around the center of the flower attaching these two pieces in a circle. Then just finish and cut the thread and you’re done. Once you’ve understood how the peyote stitch works, be brave and experiment with the colors, size and number of petals and you can even change the shape of the petals.
You can see a collection of my jewelry at Fler. They are also for sale!