Troubleshooting the Ouroboros Dragon Cuff

One of our most popular patterns, the Ouroboros Dragon Cuff by Michelle Leonardo is also one of our most challenging! Like many readers, I was intimidated by the freeform peyote stitch dragon head, so I stitched the Ouroboros’ accompanying pattern, the Dragon Scale Cuff. That helped me get up the gumption to volunteer to stitch the sample for our Winter Ouroboros Kit.

When I proudly posted photos of my finished Winter Ouroboros in a Facebook group for bead weavers, a few people came forward with comments about their struggles while stitching this pattern. The discussion turned into a lively troubleshooting conversation. Having edited Michelle Leonardo’s pattern for the magazine myself, and now with a couple of them under my belt, it became clear that I could offer some guidance.

I’m going to cover the spots that seemed to trip people up the most. I’ll also offer some troubleshooting tips and advice so that you, too, can have success stitching this incredibly rewarding pattern. Read on, intrepid beader!

Sourcing Materials for the Ouroboros Dragon Cuff

Our kits were wildly popular and sold out quickly. Now our readers are going to have to fly solo to get all the goodies to stitch this bracelet. Fortunately, Michelle Leonardo has provided us with her resources in the pattern.

Check your favorite bead retailer, or contact:

Miyuki seed beads: Potomac Bead Company, (717) 263-2323
Daggers: Aura Crystals and Back2Bead, (646) 773-5895
Swarovski crystal bicones: Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, (800) 355-2137
Thread: Fusion Beads, (888) 781-3559

Back2Bead has a whole drool-worthy page of etched 2-hole daggers.
There is also a great selection of 2-hole daggers, including the etched jet AB full from the Winter Ouroboros Dragon available at Potomac Beads.

I am obsessed with the Jet AB full daggers in the Winter Ouroboros colorway.

I am obsessed with the Jet AB full daggers in the Winter Ouroboros colorway.

Thread Breakage

Boy, those etched daggers sure are pretty. Stitchers beware, though, because they are also evil thread-cutting monsters! I heard from a couple of frustrated beaders who had to re-stitch the body of the bracelet three or four times before getting the thread thickness and tension just right so that it would not break. One thickness of 6 lb FireLine is not sufficient with etched daggers! I have had success with doubled 6 lb, and some other readers have used 8, 10, and even 14 lb FireLine to stitch the body.

Give yourself the best chance you can by experimenting with different thread thicknesses and tensions with a stitch sample of a few rows of Steps 1 – 4 before fully committing. The key is to find the goldilocks zone where the thread is thick enough to not break, but thin enough to fit through the size 15 seed beads on the edges multiple times.

Directions: End 2

As far as reading the directions and following the illustrations go, one place that proved challenging for some readers was Step 8, End 2. This is where you use right-angle weave to transition between the dagger portion of the body to the peyote stitched ends. If you follow the illustrations exactly, it will work. It’s just tricky! My advice for this step: just go slow and take it one stitch at a time. Even if your beads are not situated perfectly like the illustration, stitch through them in the direction it shows and it should turn out.

Download this free PDF with my step-by-step photos of End 2.

The Daunting Dragon Head

This was by far the most challenging part, and what scared a lot of readers off of this project. Freeform peyote? What?! Until now, all you got was a chart and our best wishes in your attempt! It took me two tries, but following the chart, and the photo of the actual project (made even better by having the digital version of the magazine handy so I could zoom in close) — I came out with an awesome dragon head! To help guide your attempt, I’ve broken the original chart up into 4 figures and drawn on thread paths.

Download this free PDF that includes the illustrations.

My tips for stitching the dragon head:

  • Stitch both sides at once. Begin a thread so that you have a working thread on either side of the framework. Do one stitch on one side; mirror it on the other side.
  • If you don’t do the above, snap a photo of one side when it’s finished and use a photo editing app to mirror-image it so you have the correct orientation when working the other side.
  • Don’t be afraid to frog-stitch (Rip-it! Rip-it!) if you are not liking the way it’s looking.
  • The objective is to increase the size from the nose to about halfway across the length of the head, then keep the same width for the second half, leaving a hole for the eye.
  • If your eyelid embellishment is turning out ugly, try doing an upper eyelid only, or leaving the front corner of the eye without the added embellishment.

Top left: Meredith’s first attempt at the dragon head. Bottom-right: Meredith’s final result. Inset: Michelle Leonardo’s dragon head.

Top left: Meredith’s first attempt at the dragon head. Bottom-right: Meredith’s final result. Inset: Michelle Leonardo’s dragon head.

Have you met with strife while stitching the Ouroboros Dragon Cuff? Let us know in the comments where you have struggled and I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot!

Meredith Steele
Technical Editor, Beadwork magazine

Make Your Own Ouroboros Dragon Cuff!