Top 5 Tips for Mastering Peyote Stitch with Melinda Barta

Long ago BB (Before Beads) when I didn’t have to wear readers or turn on 3 lamps (all Ott lamps of course) to make jewelry, I was a seed bead virgin. I explored mixed media jewelry techniques and made my own fabric beads. But I stayed far away from seed bead stitching until my job as Interweaves Beading Daily Editor required it. I was reluctant at first-I witnessed the frenzy of beaders at shows chasing after their little crack-like vials filled with the nectar of the Gods…Delicas! I’d seen these folks hunched over a table wearing 2 pairs of glasses AND head gear like a miner going down in the caves for treasure, working on the revered peyote stitch! They snuck their stash in from the car during the wee hours of the morning so husbands couldn’t reprimand or mock their addiction-I mean hobby! I saw all of this clear as a bell and wanted no part of this crazy behavior. What’s the big deal anyway? Size 15’s will for sure make you go blind over time and the size of the bag does NOT equal the cost. I’ve seen tiny bags of beads cost more than a refrigerator!

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Never enough beads

It was only a matter of time until I had to take the plunge and Melinda Barta was to be my teacher! We decided to have a “Teach Kristal to bead” party with cake, balloons, and a huge social media presence so beaders all over the world could partake. It was the beading event of the year! Beady peeps from all over the world as far as Australia and England joined in and gave me invaluable advice when we’d post images of my bracelet in process. My first one was a bit limp and some of our community experts pointed out my lack of tension. Many others shared their fave tips for a beginning beader and it was a huge success. I moved back to the rest of my life and continued on my merry way when we started receiving many; I mean MANY requests for pictures of the finished bracelet. They felt like proud mama’s helping the newbie out and wanted to see the end result! WHAT? I squealed to my boss as he told me I HAD to finish it. I thought I was off the hook by just trying it and could stick the unfinished limp peyote stitch bracelet in the junk drawer.

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Drool worthy peyote stitched cuff

Melinda Barta to the rescue once again! We both had to fly to Cleveland to shoot the PBS TV show, Beads Baubles and Jewels and she vowed I’d be a full-fledged beader by the time the plane landed. Then she whipped out this ratty cardboard box that looked as old as the hills and informed me that this was her lucky bead box she took on the road. As she raised the lid, I swear I heard a choir of angels sing (if there was a holy beading song, they would have been singing it). Sparkly, shiny beads of every size and color filled that Holy Grail and she let me pick out my faves and quickly got me going on a new bracelet. About 28 minutes into the flight I was hopelessly hooked! I not only finished up my first limp bracelet I cranked out dozens more and then simply couldn’t stop. I even took Peyote Stitch embellishing to greater heights with crystal fringe and other drool worthy designs. All thanks to a great teacher! Many times you want to dive into a new technique but aren’t really sure how to start. Melinda is one of the beady best and I’m happy to say you too can learn from my fave teacher!

We took Melinda’s bestselling book, Mastering Peyote Stitch and turned it into a series of eCourses. The first one is The Basics, sure to get you going like me! Then we’ll launch 6 more courses this year teaching you everything you need to know about Peyote Stitch (and then some).

Here’s a sneak peek of Melinda’s Top 5 Tips for Peyote Stitch Basics

1. Thread color matters

Regardless of which type of thread you prefer, always be sure to choose a color that closely matches your beads. Your beads are meant to be the star of your project, and thread is merely the underlying structure. If you’re ever unhappy with the color of exposed threads, you can try coloring them with a fine-point permanent marker.

2. Unleash your inner designer

A quick Internet search for peyote graph paper will yield many options for free downloadable design paper. Most commonly found for flat peyote designs, charts are also available for circular peyote designs. Simply print the graph paper, color in a design, and follow the chart bead by bead as you stitch.

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Graph paper design

3. Threading the needle

Instead of holding your needle out in front of you and passing the thread through the eye, think of “needling the thread.” To do so, hold the thread between the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand with the thread just barely sticking out, just 1⁄16″ (.2 cm) or so. Use your other hand to slide the eye of the needle down over the tip of the thread.

4. Take time to correct

If you make an error, fix it. You may be discouraged once you find a mistake, but you’ll be much happier in the long run if you go back to correct it. Make light of the situation by thinking of it as the “frog stitch”— Rip it! Rip it!

5. The peyote mantra

Think “string one bead, skip one bead, and pass through the next” as you stitch, and you’ll see this mantra is the basic foundation of all peyote stitches. Don’t worry if the beads are loose at first. After working the row, pull the tail and working threads, and pinch and slide the beads down as needed to remove all slack in the thread and to encourage the beads to stack.

Peyote stitch mantra

Peyote mantra

This course also includes 2 free project downloads for you to dive right into! Finger Food Rings by Leslie Rogalski.

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Finger Food Rings by Leslie Rogalski. Photo by Frank DeSantas

And Chance for Romance Bracelet by Melissa Grakowsky Shippee

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Chance for Romance Bracelet by Melissa Grakowsky Shippee

Enjoy your journey into the exciting world of Peyote Stitch!


Here’s more Peyote Stitch delish!


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