What’s Your Favorite Bead Stitch?

Recently I asked beaders on Facebook and Twitter: What’s your favorite bead stitch?

As you might expect, everyone embraced different favorite stitches. Some mentioned old favorites, such as peyote or herringbone bead weaving stitches, while others spoke up for newer stitches, such as hubble. Many beaders mentioned two or more stitches. Lorraine Hickton, for example, wrote, “I love peyote stitch, but my favorite is brick stitch. It is awesome to do shaped work with without the need to stiffen the beadwork.” Given that many elaborate beaded necklace designs use one type of bead stitch for the focal, another for the strap, and a third for the clasp, it doesn’t seem surprising that many beaders enjoy a few stitches rather than only one.

Why do you love that certain bead stitch more than others? Here’s what I learned from my fellow beaders and the newest issue of Favorite Bead Stitches

It’s familiar and comfortable.

Maybe you want a project that you can bead with your family while they watch TV or one that you can relax into after a long day at work. As Jan Atherton noted, “Herringbone and chenille are two of my favorites, especially if I have time when I want to bead, but I don’t want to think too hard about it.”

For me, peyote stitch is a bit like a pizza; it’s comfort food for when I’m stressed out. This doesn’t mean that I always bead the stitch the exact same way (or always order pepperoni on my pizza). Instead, I use shaped beads, unusual color combinations, or variations of the familiar peyote stitch to stretch myself, but still stay inside my comfort zone.

It’s new or at least new-to-you.

Occasionally I’ll fall in love with a new color or bead shape and for a time that’s the only thing that my beading needles and thread will see. The same thing can happen with a bead stitch, particularly if it’s one you just learned. Sometimes I temporarily embrace a new favorite when I learn a new stitch variation or rediscover an older bead stitch that I hadn’t seen in a while. For example, when flipping through Favorite Bead Stitches, I noticed that the Monreale Necklace by Maggie Meister uses St. Petersburg chain, a stitch that doesn’t often appear in many modern projects. It’s been a few years since I remember seeing a project with this stitch, so now it’s all I can think about.

What's Your Favorite Bead Stitch?

Monreale Necklace by Maggie Meister uses St. Petersburg chain, an uncommon stitch.

It can be used in all types of projects large and small.

Just because you love a stitch doesn’t mean you always want to make a huge project with it. A favorite bead stitch can be used for projects that fit into your schedule and space. One of the reasons Renetha Stanziano enjoys right-angle weave is that “it can be used for a project as small as a ring to something as large as a neck scarf.”

Similarly, a favorite bead stitch might let you easily tackle a variety of components or a complex structure. Amy Severino enjoys the flexibility of right-angle weave and cubic right-angle-weave. She wrote, “I feel like once you ‘get’ RAW and CRAW, you can engineer just about anything.” It can be comforting to know that you can reliably use your favorite stitch to create anything you dream up.

A quick flip through Favorite Bead Stitches makes it easy to appreciate how different stitches may be used to achieve similar functions. For example, one designer used right-angle weave to create simple bezels for pearls, while another designer used tubular peyote to stitch around a rivoli. Similarly, designers used ladder and spiral herringbone, St. Petersburg chain, and a combination of flat netting and peyote stitch to create different necklace straps. (And of course, those aren’t even all the possibilities available. Other stitches could be used for these common jewelry elements.)

It’s your favorite designer’s favorite.

Have you noticed that some jewelry designers favor certain stitches? The association of individual designers with specific bead stitches is a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Do you love the same bead stitch because you love the designer’s finished designs or did loving that bead stitch lead you to that designer’s work?

What's Your Favorite Bead Stitch?

Marcia DeCoster designs many projects using cubic-right-angle weave such as these Cubed Chandelier Earrings.

It’s fast and easy.

I heard from a few beaders that some bead stitches are simply physically easier for them to do than others. You also might find some stitches easier to learn than others. Personally, as much as I like translating drawings into square stitch patterns, I find that I’m normally too impatient to make any large-scale designs with this stitch.

It plays well with others.

Certain stitches appear in numerous jewelry designs, but almost never appear on anyone’s list of favorite stitches. For example, embellishment stitches such as fringe or picot rarely receive a top ranking as a stitch since they’re not used alone. Other stitches that tend to be used mainly as helper stitches suffer a similar fate. For example, ladder stitch is sometimes used as a way to start herringbone stitch, but rarely appears in a project as a central player. Netting is another example of a hard-working stitch that often plays a supporting role. It’s great for creating structure that can be covered with embellishments. Surprisingly, netting came in third in the number of projects that use it in Favorite Bead Stitches, right behind right-angle weave and peyote stitch, which were tied for first place.

What's Your Favorite Bead Stitch?

Fireworks Necklace by Jill Wiseman uses netting and fringe, two stitches that don’t often get top-spot recognition but that provide valuable support to other stitches.

It’s fun.

Do I really need to explain this? If a stitch makes you smile, that’s reason enough for me to put it at the top of your favorite bead stitch list.

Happy beading!


Use all your favorite bead stitches in your issue of Favorite Bead Stitches


One Comment

  1. Sameya A at 11:09 pm July 19, 2017

    Great article!
    Peyote stitch was the hardest for me to get it right. Neatness in bead work is at least 50 % of the battle. And for peyote stitch project, it is an absolute.
    So, I would say peyote and right angle weave are my favorite.
    Beading a circle/loop for rivoli is even more exciting and challenging.

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