5 Tips for Learning a New Beading Stitch
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
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!