Master These Two Basic Bead Embroidery Stitches For Beautiful Beaded Jewelry

Bead embroidery collar made using fringe and beaded backstitch techniques


Have you ever looked at an amazing piece of bead embroidery and wondered what techniques the artist used to make it? Chances are, it was made using a combination of these two basic bead embroidery stitches: beaded backstitch and beaded fringe stitch.

Once you master these two basic bead embroidery stitching techniques, you'll open a whole new world of possibilities for making beaded jewelry and beaded embellishments!

For both of these techniques, you'll need the following materials and supplies:

  • Seed beads and/or accent beads
  • Beading thread of your choice
  • Bead embroidery backing or medium
  • Size 12 beading needle
  • Thread cutter or scissors

A word about seed beads and bead embroidery medium: If you're just getting started with bead embroidery, try using larger seed beads (size 8/0) until you feel comfortable with your tension and the backstitch technique.

There are many, many good options out there for bead embroidery medium or backing. Some people prefer a stiffened felt purchased from a craft store. There are many different types of fabric that you can buy from a fabric store that are suitable for bead embroidery as well, and you can even make your own backing by using a fusible webbing and your favorite fancy fabrics. My personal choice for bead embroidery is a product called Nicole's Beadbacking, a colored, stiffened felt that stands up to many hours of stitching and won't fade or lose it's shape. Experiment until you find what works best for you!

Basic Bead Embroidery Backstitch Tutorial

Knot one end of a comfortable length of thread, leaving a 2" tail. Pass up through your bead embroidery medium. Pick up 2 seed beads and push them all the way down until they're up against the bead embroidery medium.
Keeping your needle straight (or as straight as possible), pass down through the bead embroidery medium directly in front of the last bead you strung. Pull your thread all the way through the bead embroidery medium.
Flip the medium over, and locate a point between the two beads you just added. Pass the needle straight back up through the medium to come out between the two beads.
To secure the beads, pass through the last bead and pull snugly. (Not too tight, or the bead embroidery medium may pucker, depending on what you're using!)
Pick up 2 more seed beads and repeat.
You can straighten your line of seed beads by passing the needle and thread back through all the beads you just stitched at the end of a row.

What it's used for: This is the preferred stitch for bead embroidery enthusiasts everywhere. Beaded backstitch is used to create lines of beads that can be used to create pictures and shapes in your bead embroidery. It can also be used as a foundation for peyote stitch bezels around cabochons and other objects in your bead embroidery. Try mixing sizes of beads within rows, or alternate sizes from row to row to add lots of texture to your designs.

You can also do beaded backstitch using more than just two beads per stitch. Try picking up four or five beads per stitch as you work when you have large areas to cover, and just bring your needle back up just before the last two beads strung for each stitch. Pass through those last two beads to secure a longer line of beads, and make sure that you run your needle and thread back through the entire row when you've finished to firm up and stabilize your stitching.

Bead Embroidery Fringe Stitch

Bring your needle up through the bead embroidery medium in the place where you want to stitch down your bead. Pick up a fringe bead and a stop bead.
Skip the stop bead, pass back through the fringe bead, and down into the bead embroidery medium.
To add the next fringe, pass back up through the bead embroidery medium to the place where you'd like to position the next fringe.
Pick up your next set of fringe beads and a stop bead. Skip the stop bead, and pass back down through the fringe beads and the bead embroidery medium.

What it's used for: This is a great way to add dimension and visual interest to your bead embroidery, not to mention a great way to use up space when you get to a point where you're just done making rows and rows and rows of beaded backstitch. You can also use fringe stitch to add, well, actual fringe to your bead embroidery pieces. Leaves, vines, and berries can all be added to a piece of flat bead embroidery to make your design "pop"!

You can also use your accent beads as guides for where you want to place rows of beaded backstitch — just stitch down an accent bead, and then start working backstitch in rows around it.

Want to explore more using these easy-to-learn bead embroidery techniques? Learn how to combine these stitches for spectacular results from bead artist Kelly Angeley in Explorations in Beadweaving: An Improvisational Approach. You'll love these 19 bead embroidery and bead-weaving projects using seed beads, found objects, and even shaped glass beads for unique and personal beaded jewelry. Get your copy of Explorations in Beadweaving, and see where the beads will take you today!

Do you have a favorite bead embroidery stitch or technique? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share it with us!

Bead Happy,


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