Hip to Herringbone

Kristal Wick
Kristal Wick
is the editor of
Beading Daily


This weave is often found in Ndebele beadwork. The herringbone stitches or pattern creates a tough fabric. It's a tricky stitch, but once you get the knack, it can produce wonderful geometric shapes.Use large-sized beads, such as pony beads, when you are learning. It also helps to use a thread and needle that will go through the beads several times. Alternate rows of light and dark beads to help you understand the mechanics of the stitch. Maintain a steady tension throughout.  

Herringbone stitch, a fave among seed bead stitchers, gets a bad rap at times due to the difficulty in starting out. Former Beading Daily Editor, Michelle Mach, is a wealth of information on the Herringbone stitch, so I decided to share her wisdom with you!


Almost all the instructions I'd seen for flat herringbone stitch projects started with a base row of another stitch, usually ladder stitch.  So when I saw today's free project, I was momentarily flummoxed.  Begin herringbone without ladder stitch?  I felt like the Peanuts character Linus must have felt when he lost his security blanket!

Baseless Herringbone Stitch

You can find illustrated instructions for this method in today's free project. For me, the challenging part of this method is that you can't actually see the herringbone pattern for the first few rows.  As a result, my tension was not quite right for my first few pieces.  In the second piece (on the right), I also experimented with a turnaround method that left the thread on the outside of the bead.  I didn't like that at all.  I'm happy to have learned another method for starting herringbone and I like the scalloped edge at the bottom.

A great place to learn the ins and outs of a stitch and ask specific questions is on the Beading Daily Forum, here are a couple of herringbone questions from some of our Beading Daily peeps:

Q: I am about to get started using this stitch that has caught my eye for years but seems tricky to start. Is this stich better with regular seed beads or delicas? What will help it stack better? I'm starting with flat, then we'll see about tubuler.

A: Tubular herringbone can be done nicely with cylinder or seed beads, it depends on the look you want. The size 11 cylinders look more contemporary, in my opinion, since they are by nature so geometric and regular. However, the soft rounded shapes of other seed beads can fit together "better." Like most beaded techniques, trying out for yourself may be your best bet! 

Q: Hi, after the great help I got with my Russian spiral question I thought there was no where better to ask this one.  I would like to split a tubular herringbone rope into 2 strands to anchor a beaded circle, like used for a toggle clasp.  I want to make the circle the focal point of a bracelet, so i need to bring the herringbone around and join back into itself, but that seems bulky.  I thought maybe there was a way to split it into halves and join them.

A: I think it would depend on how many beads you have in your tubular herringbone rope. For instance, if you had 8 beads, you could split it into two ropes of four, basically your four beads on the right side of the rope would become one strand and the four beads on the left would be your other strand. I've done this with flat herringbone but have not tried it with tubular. Once you had the length of your two strands, you would then join them back together as if you had never separated the rope into two strands. I hope this makes sense. If you don't have 8 beads, for instance if your rope was six beads, you would have to find a way to increase two beads at the split and then decrease back to six when rejoining. 

Getting Started with Herringbone Stitch


String 1 light, 2 dark, 2 light, 2 dark, 2 light, 2 dark, 2 light, 2 dark, and 1 light bead (16 beads total). Leave a 6" tail.
The first row you work creates Rows 1-3.
Rows 1-3: String 1 dark-colored bead. PBT the last light bead strung. Skipping 2 dark beads, PT the next lightbead from the end.



The first row that you work in herringbone actually creates Rows 1-3. To ease your way as you work these rows (and avoid spilled beads), hold the piece firmly between the thumb and forefinger of your nonworking hand with the tail thread coiled around your little finger.

String 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead. Skip 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead.

String 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead. Skip 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead.

String 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead. Skip 2 dark beads. PT the last light bead.

Row 4: String 1 dark and 1 light bead. PBT the dark bead just strung.

*PT the first bead of the next 2-bead set.

String 2 light beads. PT the next dark bead. Rep from * until you have reached the end of the row. 


The herringbone pattern becomes apparent after working the fourth row.

Row 5: Turn work over. String 1 light bead and 1 dark bead. PBT the light bead just strung. *PT the first bead of the next 2-bead set.

String 2 dark beads. PT the next light bead. Rep from * until you have reached the end of the row.

Continue working the stitch in this alternating pattern until the work is the desired height. The top and bottom rows may seem jumbled. Correct this by running a thread through those rows in loose square stitch to tighten. 

Get inspired by our herringbone eBooks and dive in! Beadwork: Herringbone Stitch – Basics and Beyond by Melinda Barta.

The best is yet to bead!


Post a Comment