Making Waves With Herringbone Stitch, Part 1: Wavy Herringbone Stitch


Ode On a Grecian Urn Necklace

It's no secret that I love herringbone stitch in all of its variations. After learning how to do tubular herringbone stitch, I decided to try some experiments with flat herringbone stitch. I decided to start playing with different sizes of seed beads while working flat herringbone stitch, hoping to make one of those gorgeous flat collars that I had seen in my beading books. What happened was very different. Because I had used such a wide range of seed bead sizes in the same row of herringbone stitch, my curves were more dramatic and appeared much faster than if I had used seed beads that were closer in size. The final result, however, was my Ode On A Grecian Urn necklace – something completely unexpected, simple and beautiful.

Making waves with flat herringbone stitch is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. The easiest way to get some fun curves into your flat herringbone stitch is to use different sizes of seed beads worked back and forth over a set of rows. If you switch back and forth between the smaller and larger beads at the beginning and end of each row, you'll get a lovely little curve in your strip of flat herringbone without having to make complicated increases and decreases.




To get started, choose four different sizes of seed beads for this variation. It's easiest to start with a size 15o, a size 11o cylinder, a size 11o Japanese and a size 8o. If you really want to get a delicate curve, throw in a size 10o between the 11o Japanese and the size 8o.


Start with a simple ladder of seed beads.

Make a ladder using two of each of the four different sizes of seed beads.  Don't go back and reinforce the ladder.

Work regular flat herringbone for a total of 9 rows, turning at the end of each row in your preferred method.  (I prefer to make a brick stitch-style turn by catching the thread between the two beads in the last pair and coming up through the second bead added.)

After you've finished the nine rows, reverse the order in which you add the seed bead pairs for each flat herringbone stitch.  Start by adding a pair of 15o beads on the pair of 8o beads and work your way back.


Your herringbone stitch will start to curve by itself

Work in flat herringbone stitch for a total of 9 more rows.  Keep your tension relatively tight as you work, and you should start to see the herringbone stitch curve as you work.

For a more subtle curve, use only three sizes of seed beads, but use more of each bead in the base ladder. Try using four each of size 15o, 11o and 8o. You'll still get a curve, but it will take more rows for that curve to appear, and it will eventually give you a longer piece of flat herringbone stitch beadwork that you can use for a flat beaded collar.

Flat herringbone stitch has a unique thread path. The rows in flat herringbone stitch are lined up one on top of the other similar to square stitch, but because you are adding pairs of beads to each stitch, the beads lie at an angle to one another in each pair. And because of the way the rows are aligned one on top of the other, you can use patterns meant for square stitch when working in flat herringbone stitch. Just remember that the slight angle of the beads might slightly distort some patterns. 

Read on to find out how to create undulations in the center of your flat herringbone stitch in Part 2 of Make Waves With Herringbone Stitch!

Bead Happy,




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