How to String Beads with Thread

How to String Beads with Thread

Knowing how to string beads with thread is an essential skill. Learning how to string beads with thread allows beaders to create a variety of crafts, from charm bracelets with sterling silver beads and sterling silver charms, all the way to the most delicate necklaces completed with gold-filled beads and findings.

Admittedly, it takes patience to create more complex beading patterns, but it’s nothing that you can’t master in time. What’s important is you have fun and learn the skills you need as you go along. No one masters how to string beads with thread in a day. However, even beaders with years of experience are refining their techniques after all these years.

How to String Beads with Thread: The Beginning

It all begins with treating the nylon thread. To treat nylon thread, use either microcrystalline wax or beeswax (not candle wax or paraffin) or Thread Heaven. Wax softens the nylon fibers and imparts tackiness, slightly stiffening your beading. Thread Heaven creates a static charge that causes the thread to reject itself; hence, the doubled thread should not be used with this product. Next, the thread is stretched, then pulled through the conditioner.

Adding thread 

To add a thread, stitch many rows earlier to where the last bead was inserted. Following the thread route of the stitch, interweave the thread through the beading. Tie a few half-hitch knots between the beads and leave the thread where the previous stitch stopped.

Ending thread

To end or finish a thread, weave it back into the beading, retracing its course and making two or three half-hitch knots between beads as you go. Alter the weaving orientation such that the thread crosses itself. After the last knot, sew through a few beads and cut the thread.

All Those Beading Knots

Half-hitch 

  • Between two beads, pass the needle under the thread. A loop will develop when the thread is pulled through.
  • Backtrack over the thread between the beads, sew through the loop and gently tug to incorporate the knot into the beading.

Overhand

Create a loop using thread. Then, pull the tail through the loop while tightening it.

Square 

  • Cross the thread’s left end over the right, then bring it under and back up.
  • Cross the end on the right over the one on the left, thread it through the loop, and pull both ends to tighten.

Surgeon 

  • Double-cross the left thread end over the right thread end. Pull to cinch.
  • Cross the end on the right over the end on the left, pass through the loop, and tighten.

Off-Loom Stitching

Flat brick stitch

  • Begin with a bead ladder and arrange the thread to emerge from the top of the final bead. 
  • Each new row will have its ends slightly displaced from the preceding row. 
  • Pick up two beads to use the standard technique, which results in diminishing rows. Backward, sew beneath the thread bridge between the second and third beads in the preceding row. Up through the second added bead, down through the first added bead, and back up through the second added bead.
  • For the remaining stitches in the row, string one bead per stitch. Back-to-front stitch beneath the next thread bridge in the previous row, then back up through the next bead. 
  • The final stitch will be positioned above the final two beads of the row below. Note that the row will be one bead shorter than the preceding one. Therefore, add a second stitch to the final thread bridge in the row to increase at the end of the row. Likewise, add a second stitch to the thread bridge created by the preceding stitch to increase inside a row.

Tubular brick stitch 

  • Beginning with a bead ladder, connect the ends to make a ring. Then, place the thread, so it exits the top of a bead.
  • Following the directions for flat brick stitch, begin the row by picking up two beads.
  • Join the start and last beads of the circle by stitching upwards through the first bead and downwards through the last bead.

Crossweave method

Crossweave is a beading method in which beads are strung on both ends of a thread or cord, and then the thread or cord is woven through another bead.

Herringbone

  • Begin by stitching an even number of beads into a ladder.
  • If required, rotate the ladder, so the thread exits the end bead upward.
  • Gather two beads, then pass the needle through the next bead on the ladder (a–b). (b–c) Sew up through the third bead before picking up two beads. Sew down once again through the fourth bead.
  • Iterate along the ladder.
  • To make a turn, stitch through the previous row’s final bead and the new pair’s last bead (a–b). (b–c) Pick up two beads, then stitch down through the next bead in the preceding row and up through the next bead.
  • Continue adding bead pairs throughout the row. You may want to conceal the edge thread by picking up an accent or smaller bead before sewing back through the final pair of beads just inserted.

Ladder stitch 

  • Pick up two beads, rethread the needle through the first bead, and then pass the needle through the second bead (a–b).
  • Add successive beads by picking up one bead, passing the needle through the previous bead, and then passing the needle through the new bead (b–c).
  • Continue for as long as desired.
  • Due to the alternating pattern of a single thread bridge on one side between two beads and a double thread bridge on the opposite edge between the same beads, this technique provides unequal tension along the ladder of beads.
  • You may adjust the unequal tension by weaving back through the beads in a zigzag pattern. Although this provides a double thread route along both corners of the ladder and perfectly aligns the beads, it also fills the bead holes with different threads, which can be problematic when using beads with small holes.

Alternative technique

  • Gather all the beads necessary to reach the length specified by the design.
  • Fold the final two beads, so they are parallel, and then stitch through the second-to-last bead in the same manner (a–b).
  • A–b) Fold the next loose bead so that it lies parallel to the preceding bead in the ladder, then stitch through it in the same direction.
  • Continue stitching back through each bead on the ladder until you reach the last bead.

Peyote Stitch 

Flat even-count peyote

  • Gather an even quantity of beads (a–b). As you stitch row 3, these beads will move to make the first two rows.
  • To begin row 3, pick up a bead, skip the final bead strung in the preceding step, and thread the needle through the next bead in the other direction (b–c).
  • For each stitch, pick up a bead, skip a bead in the preceding row, then thread your needle through the next before departing the first bead strung (c–d).
  • Up-beads are the beads added to this row, higher than the preceding rows.
  • For each stitch in successive rows, pick up a bead and thread it through the next up-bead in the preceding row (d–e).
  • To determine the number of rows in peyote stitch, count the total number of beads along both straight edges.

Flat odd-count peyote 

  • Odd-count peyote is identical to even-count peyote, except for the turn-on odd-numbered rows when the final bead cannot be connected in the usual manner since there is no up-bead to sew through.
  • Perform the standard odd-row turn as follows:
  • Begin as you would for flat even-count peyote, but select an odd number of beads.
  • Work row 3 in the same manner as even count, pausing before adding the final two beads.
  • Perform a figure-8 turn after row 3: Grasp the next-to-last bead (#7) and stitch through beads #2 and #1 (a–b). Pick up the final bead of the row (#8) and stitch through beads #2, #3, #7, #2, #1, and #8 (b–c).
  • This turn can be worked at the end of every odd row, although this edge will be harsher than the other. In future odd-numbered rows, take up the final bead of the row and then stitch directly below the thread bridge.
  • Backstitch through the final bead inserted to start the following row.

Tubular

  • The tubular peyote stitch follows the same pattern as the flat peyote stitch, but you work in rounds rather than back and forth.
  • Begin by stringing an even number of beads into a ring.
  • Sew through the ring’s first bead. Next, pick up a bead, skip a bead in the ring, and thread the needle through the next bead. To complete the round, repeat.
  • To be in position for the following round, you must rise. Then, sew through the first bead introduced on the third cycle (a–b).
  • In round 3 (b–c), pick up a bead and pass it through the second bead.
  • Repeat until the desired length is achieved.

Two-drop peyote 

  • This follows the same stitching pattern as basic flat or tubular peyote, but pairs of beads are used instead of single beads.
  • Begin with an even quantity of beads that is divisible by four. Next, two beads are picked up (stitch 1 of row 3), followed by two beads skipped and two beads sewed through.
  • Iterate throughout the row or round.

Peyote decrease

  • At the decreasing point, pass through two beads in the preceding row.
  • Take one bead when you reach the two-bead gap in the following row.

Peyote increase

  • After completing a row, rethread the needle through two beads.
  • After securing them to the beading, resume peyote sewing.

Joining or zipping up peyote

  • To link two portions of a flat peyote piece silently, align the end rows of the two sections.
  • The pieces are “zipped up” by zigzagging through the beads at both ends.

Right-angle weave

  • To begin the first row of right-angle weaving, gather four beads and form a ring with them.
  • Repeat stitching through the first three beads.
  • Gather three beads. Sew between the final bead of the preceding ring (a–b) and the first two beads picked up in the current stitch (b–c).
  • Continue adding three beads to each stitch until the desired length of the first row is reached. You are stitching rings in a figure-8 pattern, with each stitch reversing direction.

Square stitch

  • String the necessary number of beads for the first row. Then, retrieve the first bead in the second row.
  • Repeat your stitching through the final bead of the first row and the first bead of the second row.
  • The new bead is placed on top of the preceding row’s bead, and the holes are parallel.
  • Pick up the second bead of row 2 and pass the needle through the next bead of row 1 and the next bead of row 2. Repeat this step for each member of the row.

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