Master Peyote Stitch with Melinda Barta

What is it about peyote stitch that keeps us beaders coming back for more? I struggled with peyote stitch when I was learning how to bead — there was just something about the thread path that I couldn't keep straight in my mind. But once I found a wonderful teacher who showed me why she loved peyote stitch, it suddenly all made sense, and I understood that the potential of this favorite bead-weaving stitch is just as endless as the human imagination.

Take a look at some of the beadwork coming from today's top bead artists and designers, and you'll see a lot of peyote stitch. Peyote stitch is doing things that it has never done before, showing up in geometric and sculptural beaded jewelry design ideas and incorporating new and exciting glass beads and beading supplies like leather, satin cord, and cabochons.

So, who better to lead us through a new peyote stitch adventure than Beadwork magazine editor Melinda Barta? Melinda's peyote stitch designs have been loved by beaders for many years, and now, she's got a brand-new book, full of fun, fashionable peyote stitch beading projects for us to enjoy! Melinda was nice enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to share with me some of her favorite things about peyote stitch, along with her best tips for working with peyote stitch.

Peyote Stitch Is More Popular Than Ever

There's a lot to love about peyote stitch, according to Melinda. She sees it as not only the best first bead-weaving stitch for a beginner to learn, but also as an integral part of even the most advanced beading projects. Just look at the beading projects in Mastering Peyote Stitch from artists like Melanie Potter, Carole Ohl, and even Sherry Serafini, and you'll see how this basic bead-weaving stitch can be used for anything.

With so many variations within this stitch, Melinda says that she could never get tired of designing with peyote stitch. The beading projects designed and selected for this book highlight the versatility of peyote stitch — they include basic techniques such as flat, circular, and tubular, plus more unique variations such as two-needle, diagonal, free-form, and sculptural. And peyote stitch is so easy to embellish and to adapt for use with your favorite beading supplies like rivolis, cabochons, pearls, and leather, giving you more options for your peyote stitch beading projects than every before!

Managing Tension in Peyote Stitch

As with any bead-weaving stitch, tension in peyote stitch is so very important! Melinda recommends that if your tension is too loose that you wax your thread and try a stiffer beading thread like Fireline or Wildfire. Many new beaders get frustrated at the beginning when their beads slide around on nylon thread.

Interestingly, when the discussion of thread tension comes up in her classes, it turns out that most of the time beaders run into trouble using tension that's too tight, not too loose. Tension that's too tight in peyote stitch can result in broken beads and broken beading thread, so try these four tips for successful peyote stitch beading projects!

  • Consciously pull your thread after each stitch to lock the beads in place, but take care not to tug too hard.
  • Be sure to pre-stretch nylon threads so they don't lose tension later.
  • Try to relax your hands when you're beading.
  • Stop frequently to "massage" the beadwork to keep it pliable.

Seed beads and Delicas are Melinda's favorite beads for working in peyote stitch, of course, but she also enjoy mixing in pearls, gemstones, pressed glass beads, crystal beads, and lampwork glass accent beads. Most of her peyote stitch beading projects are made with Fireline, but when she needs a nylon thread that perfectly matches the beads, she prefers Toho's One-G.

Our Favorite Beading Projects from Mastering Peyote Stitch

Walkin' After Midnight is author Melinda Barta's favorite peyote stitch beading project from her new book, Mastering Peyote Stitch.
My personal favorite, her Big Sky Bracelets can be worn every day!

Melinda's favorite beading project from her new book Mastering Peyote Stitch is the cover, piece, Walkin' After Midnight. She loves the asymmetry and said that the pattern for the leaves was really a labor of love: once she had figured out the exact thread path and beads needed to achieve the shape she was looking for, the rest of the leaves were fast and fun to bead.

My favorite beading project from Mastering Peyote Stitch is her Big Sky Bracelets. I love the combination of flat, circular peyote stitch and leather cord to make some quick and easy bracelets that I can see myself wearing every day.

When was the last time you picked up a beading book that had you wanting to make every single project in the book? That was what I thought when I flipped through Melinda Barta's new Mastering Peyote Stitch. It's not just a peyote stitch book for advanced beaders, either — Melinda takes you step-by-step through each variation of peyote stitch, along with her expert recommendations for materials and tips for great beading technique. And if you love Beadwork magazine's Designers of the Year, you'll love the beading projects from designers like Jean Power, Cynthia Rutledge, Sherry Serafini, Melanie Potter, Laura McCabe, and Jean Campbell!

Pre-order your copy of Mastering Peyote Stitch and get your beading needles warmed up, because this is peyote stitch like you've never seen it before!

What do you like best about peyote stitch? Is there a particular variation that you feel drawn to? For me, the day that I mastered circular, flat peyote stitch was one of the highlights of my beading journey. Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts and questions about peyote stitch!

Bead Happy,


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