Peyote Stitch Instructions: Help From Nancy Cain

Nancy Cain came to the Interweave offices recently and filmed a few new videos. Creating Self-Supporting Beadwork is a great addition to Nancy’s already wonderful collection of peyote bead weaving patterns and instructions. To make it easy to get all of Nancy’s wonderful peyote instructions in one place, we created a new collection: “Creating Self-Supporting Beadwork with Nancy Cain.” Check out this collection and take in all that Nancy has shared with us.

In addition to her new videos, Nancy has also offered help with peyote stitch instructions, with an answer to this question:
Q: Why do I have trouble with the first couple rounds of peyote and why can’t I create strong tension?

NC: This is a common question and to tackle it, I like to review what the role Rounds 1-6 play in peyote. Understanding the structure of the stitch will help. It’s difficult to build a structure if you don’t have a solid foundation… much like architecture.

The Design
Rounds 1 – 2: This round highlights the importance of math, bead shape, finish and size in deciding what you want to make. I say let the beads do the work!

Deciding what you want your size and shape to be will be the factor in deciding what beads to use and what math numbers are appropriate. Use 15/0 or 11/0 seed beads for rounded areas and cylinder beads like Delicas, Treasures or Aikos for flat areas. String the beads needed for your project, then needle through all the beads again, plus two more. You now have a direct line from your tail to needle thread. Notice we are not using a knot at this point!

Nancy Cain peyote stitch instrucitons, help for structural peyote designs

The Tension
Round 3: This round determines the tension of the piece.

Work this round flat like circular peyote, keeping equal and tight tension between the needle and tail threads. You can make it too tight, especially working with matte beads. Adjust tension as needed maintaining thread tensions throughout this round.
Nancy Cain peyote stitch instructions, help for structural peyote designs
If you have difficulty making tight stitches, try waxing the tail rather than the working thread. If round 3 beads flip or twist inward, you have needled through or under the existing threads in rounds 1 and 2.
Nancy Cain peyote stitch instructions, help for structural peyote designsMatch it
Round 4: This round matches the tension set in round 3 and makes a tube.

The perimeter high beads will have more space between them than the inside beads. Stitching this round tight with equal back-tail tension will cause it to reduce the perimeter spacing, pulling into a tube. After three stitches pull equally with the needle and tail thread, then pinch the stitches in place with your thumb and index finger. You are matching the tension you have set in round 3. At the end of round 4, pull on tail and needle thread simultaneously then do not let go until you have worked through round 5.
Nancy Cain peyote stitch instructions, help for structural peyote designsStabilize it
Round 5: This round stabilizes the tension.

If you did not have control in round 4, round 5 can stitch too tight, causing a bulge on the sides. You can tell if you have equal tension between rounds 3 and 4 if round 5 results in straight sidewalls.

The tension is set for the rest of the piece.
Nancy Cain peyote stitch instructions, help for structural peyote designsSculpt it
Rounds 6 and beyond: The following rounds create your sculpture.

From here on out, you are in control of creating the shape. You may use increases, decreases; or none at all, as well as adjusting your tension plus any other technique in your bead box. Your shape is entirely what you want it to be.

Enjoy exploring sculptural peyote with Nancy’s expert guidance and peyote stitch instructions. Nancy Cain’s Structural Peyote Stitch Bundle puts it all together for you in one easy-to-use resource.

Have you explored Nancy’s sculptural techniques or have a tip or design to share? Please post an image or leave a comment at

Yours in creativity,blue_tammy

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