Ahead of the Curve: Shaping Your Beadwork for Necklace Making

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who is new to beading told me that she had become bored and frustrated with her necklace making projects. She wanted a way to shape some of her favorite bead-weaving stitches for necklace making without having to learn how to make increases and decreases. She was tired of making plain beaded ropes and strips of beadwork that just didn't hang right when she was making a necklace.

I totally understood her frustration. Necklace making using off-loom bead-weaving stitches has its own unique set of challenges, particularly for a beginner who might feel intimidated by having to learn how to make neat-looking increases and decreases throughout the entire project.

But, hey, guess what? There are ways for you to easily shape your beadwork for perfect-fitting necklaces every time! And they don't involve making increases or decreases in your stitching. So the next time you want to stitch up a fabulous beaded necklace, try one of these ideas for making your necklace base before adding some funky embellishments like buttons and fringe!

necklace-making necklace-making Peyote Stitch: Tension is an easy way to shape your peyote stitch necklace without making increases or decreases. I discovered this method for shaping flat odd-count peyote stitch because I was too lazy to make the figure-8 turn at the end of every other row! When you get to the last bead of the turning row, catch the thread between the end beads of the two previous rows and pull snugly. Then pass back down through the bead you just added. If you keep your tension tight, your beadwork should develop a gentle curve. Take care with how tight you pull your thread, however: pulling too tightly will just cause the beadwork to pucker instead of allowing it to lay flat.

Herringbone Stitch: Using different sizes of seed beads in the same row of herringbone stitch is an easy way to get curves in your beadwork for necklace making. You can get sharper, more dramatic curves by using a wide range of sizes, starting with a tiny size 15o and ending with a size 6o. To achieve a gentle curve that will take shape over the course of an entire necklace or beaded collar, stick to just three sizes like an 11o, an 8o, and a 6o. Again, keep your tension relatively tight as you stitch to really bring out the curves in your beaded necklace. necklace-making
Right-Angle Weave: Just like making a necklace in herringbone stitch, you can achieve a graceful curve for your beaded necklace or collar by using just two sizes of beads. To make a fast base for a beaded necklace, stitch the first row with 4mm beads and then switch to 6mm or larger in the second row. The larger the bead, the more pronounced the curve will be as you stitch. Keep in mind that using anything larger than an 8mm bead will give you a wavy, ruffle-like edge on your beaded necklace.

Easy, right? Once you have the base of your necklace made, use your imagination (and your bead stash) to add fringe, embellishments, buttons, pearls, charms, pendants or whatever else you can find to make your new necklace making project your own! And the best part is that you can change up the look of your beaded necklace just by changing your beads – no complicated increases and decreases are needed to create a stunning piece of unique beadwork.

You can always find fabulous necklace making projects in the pages of Beadwork magazine, and if you're missing a few back issues, now is the time to complete your collection! Check out the savings in our StashBuster sale going on for a limited time and get free U.S. shipping, too!

Do you have a favorite tip or easy technique for shaping your beaded necklaces? Share it here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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