Learn How to Stitch Beaded Pets
This past Christmas, I was tasked with finding the perfect gift for my boyfriend’s sister, Chantel. While she isn’t really a challenge to shop for, I wanted to find something that would be meaningful, cute, and most importantly: handmade — which is how I ended up learning how to make beaded pets!
I searched Pinterest for ideas, and I finally came across a beaded penguin design that instantly struck a chord with me. Chantel LOVES penguins — and knowing she has a ton of penguin stuff already, I knew this was something she wouldn’t have. I got to work tracking down the beads, determining which stitch to use, and beading this cute little guy.
Finding the Supplies
Once I determined what I wanted to make, I ran my ideas past our assistant editor, Marissa. I hadn’t beaded in a long time and was ready to jump into it again. We dug through the bead stash we have here in the office and found almost everything I needed to stitch the penguin. I stopped by our local beading store for a few more beading supplies that I needed, and then I was ready to begin.
Stitching the Penguin
When I was ready to actually start stitching, I pulled out my Bead On It Board (perfect for this size project) and my trusty issue of Beadwork magazine. I flipped straight to the Techniques section, which lists each stitch and provides corresponding instructions. I hadn’t tried brick stitch before and was anxious to learn something new.
After several attempts, I finally figured out both ladder stitch and brick stitch. I found ladder stitch challenging at first, mostly because I was only going through each bead twice, and I wasn’t pulling the thread as tightly as I should have. I probably restarted about four times, and I learned a bit more each time. Using ladder stitch, I stitched 7 black beads to form the base.
I used size 11 Delica beads instead of the size 8 beads used in the original design. I used Delicas because I wanted my beaded penguin to lay flat. I also wanted to create a cute little keychain that Chantel could put on anything without it being too large or in the way.
I used brick stitch to create the rest of the penguin’s body, increasing and decreasing where needed.
It took me about 2 hours to complete the beaded penguin, over the span of a couple days. To be honest, the first hour alone was dedicated to learning the stitches. This design was a bit challenging for me, particularly around the arms. But in the end, beading the penguin was so much fun and energizing. I really enjoyed the rhythm I was able to get into (once I got the hang of both stitches!), and I found myself looking forward to the next beaded pet I could make.
When Christmas morning came, Chantel was so delighted to see that cute little penguin, it was absolutely worth all of the time, stress, effort, and worry!
More Beaded Pets
Since Christmas, I’ve learned how to create beaded pets in a few different species and colors. Using the same process as before, I found an image or a similar project of the pet I wanted to make, collected the necessary beads, and got to work.
I started each beaded pet with a ladder stitch base and then switched to brick stitch for the body. And with each new design, I tried to challenge myself a bit more.
The first design I decided to try (after the penguin) was an owl, one of my favorite creatures. I altered the colors a bit, to match more of my own personal style, and I was very happy with the results. Such a cute little guy, in less than an hour of beading!
After the owl, I decided to try to replicate a Basset Hound dog. The dog was certainly more challenging than either the owl or the penguin! This design required meticulous attention to details and some bead finagling to complete the head, tail, and legs. But I managed to work out the kinks and find a way to make it work, all with the same thread. The dog bone was VERY easy in comparison. I had it stitched in less than 15 minutes. Such a breeze and a nice complement to my beaded Basset Hound.
The most recent beaded animal I finished was a turtle for my sister. This design probably took me about an hour and a half. (Although it’s worth noting that the pattern itself wasn’t that difficult, but rather my own dog was demanding my attention at the same time!) None of these beaded pets took a huge amount of time. The most time-consuming part of the process was finding an image to work from and then figuring out which beads to use.
If you’re interested in learning how to make beaded pets and creatures, download Karen Parker’s eBook, Brick-Stitching Nature: Charts for Beaded Butterflies, Dragonflies, and a Honeybee. For a great introduction to brick stitch and ladder stitch, get the “What’s Your Sign?” project. I also recommend searching Pinterest, or elsewhere on the internet, to see what sparks your creativity!
—Maddie Orth, Bead & Jewelry Marketing Specialist