Jewelry Blog

Peyote Stitch Beading: A Tutorial for Getting Started

You may be familiar with bead weaving – either you’ve given it a go yourself, or you’ve seen other people’s work. Bead-woven work can be to be terribly daunting; it appears intricate and complex, and it certainly can be time-consuming! However, please don’t let first impressions put you off having a go. Yes, bead weaving takes time and patience, but it is very much worth the effort!

An example of peyote stitching

A good place to start is with peyote stitch beadwork. Peyote stitch, also known as gourd stitch, has been around for centuries. The stitch is common in historic and contemporary Native American art, and examples have been found as far back as Ancient Egypt. People have been using this stitch to create decorative and functional art for as long as there have been beads and threading materials! It is a nice, straightforward stitch to get you started on your bead-weaving journey and it makes up quicker than some other stitches do.

There are many variations – even-count, odd-count, circular, tubular, and 1-, 2- and 3-drop variations of each of these. We are going to start with even-count 1-drop peyote. I will show you how to get started with this stitch, and how you could make a flat strip of peyote-stitch beadwork. Peyote stitch looks just like a brick wall made from beads.

Example of a peyote stitch ring - peyote stitch in the round, increasing and decreasing, even-count peyote band

Example of a peyote stitch ring - peyote stitch in the round, increasing and decreasing, even-count peyote band.

First of all, you need to gather your materials.

Materials needed for peyote stitching

Beads first!

Seed beads are available in many different sizes and colors, and for a stitch like peyote, you want beads that are fairly even in shape and size. Miyuki and Toho are probably the most well-known brands and they are both high-quality choices for stitching with. (They are slightly different in shape and size to each other however, so I don’t recommend mixing brands for bead-weaving projects.) Size 11 seed beads are perhaps considered the ‘standard’ seed beads, but I would recommend beginning your bead weaving with much larger beads, so that you can really see what you’re doing. They will also work up quicker, too, which is always heartening! The instruction photos I am sharing today are of size 6 seed beads, which are approx. 3.5mm. That’s still pretty small, I know, but trust me – once you get going with bead weaving, they will seem huge!

Needles

Needles, like seed beads, decrease in size as they increase numerically. I would recommend starting with size 10 beading needles. It is very important to use beading needles rather than simply standard sewing needles. They are longer, more flexible and have a very slim eye – important when you are passing them through tiny glass structures. My needle size of choice for working with beads as small as 1mm is a size 12, but start with a 10 – just a little thicker and sturdier, and easier for beginners’ fingers to manage.

Thread

Thread choice is important, and very personal. There are many different brands on the market, and I know that my favorites are particular to me, and the type of bead weaving I do. Nymo, C-Lon, Miyuki beading thread amongst others – they are all popular choices and all have their merits. However, for bead weaving that you want to last, I personally recommend selecting Fireline.

Fireline is a thermally-bonded, braided thread, originally from the fishing industry. You can even purchase it from fishing shops where you can get very big spools, if like me, you go through a lot of it! Why is it so good? Well, it is super strong, has no stretch at all, and is also very thin. It comes in 2 colors – black and white – and is available in different lb levels (from its original fishing line use). 4, 6 and 8 lb can all be used for bead-weaving. It’s worth saying that as Fireline is so tough, you may want to have designated scissors for cutting it. It can ruin your nice embroidery snips! An inexpensive pair of nail scissors or even some children’s craft scissors will do the trick. Whatever thread choice you make, just like the needles, it is important that you work with thread that is specifically purposed for bead weaving. Cotton thread simply isn’t strong enough for bead stitching with.

Other tools

There are a few other tools you may want to invest in as time goes on, but the great thing about bead weaving is that you really just need beads, needles and thread, and you are good to go! One tool I haven’t mentioned yet is a bead mat. You probably have one already, but if you don’t, I recommend getting one before starting. They are indispensable for beading, but particularly for bead weaving. They are also pretty inexpensive, which is always good.

A tutorial for getting started with peyote stitch beading

Note:I’ve used different colored seed beads to try and make the pictures as clear as possible for you, and I recommend you doing the same when you begin. Start with approximately 1m of beading thread of your choice on a size 10 needle, and work with large seed beads to make things easier -- at least size 6 (3.5mm).

A stopper bead to help secure your beading

Tip: Start by adding a stopper bead when beginning peyote bead weaving. Simply thread a single bead onto your working thread (usually a different color from the color you are about to stitch in, so that you don’t accidentally stitch it into your work).

Rows one and two of peyote stitch

Step 1:

Thread on 10 seed beads. Pick up one more bead and pass your needle back through bead 9.

2nd bead of row two of peyote stitch

Step 2:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through bead 7.

3rd bead of row two of peyote stitch

Step 3:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through bead 5.

4th bead of row two of peyote stitch

Step 4:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through bead 3.

5th bead of row two of peyote stitch

Step 5:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through bead 1.

 Completed rows one, two and three of peyote stitch

Step 6:

Getting started is definitely the trickiest part. Can you see that you now have a small piece of beadwork resembling a hopscotch pattern? This is the beginning of your ‘brick wall’ of Peyote stitch. Let’s carry on…

 1st bead of row three of peyote stitch

Step 7:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through the first ‘up’ (mint green in my example) bead.

2nd bead of row three of peyote stitch

Step 8:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through the second ‘up' bead.

3rd bead of row three of peyote stitch

Step 9:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through the third ‘up’ bead.

4th bead of row three of peyote stitch

Step 10:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through the fourth ‘up’ bead.

Completed rows one, two and three of peyote stitch

Step 11:

Pick up another bead and pass your needle back through the fifth ‘up’ bead.

Can you see how the brick wall is beginning to grow? Repeat this process and you will gradually build up a strip of peyote stitch beading that you can turn into a bracelet, a bookmark, a tube to surround a jar...the sky's the limit. It is important to note that each row (in the case of my example) is FIVE beads long, not TEN. The first 10 beads you picked up in Step 1 form rows one and two. You will be able to see this clearly from my example if you follow the different colors I have used to clarify each row.

An example of peyote stitching

This is just the beginning of your peyote stitch journey!  As I mentioned previously, there are many variations from the basic peyote stitch to create circular, tubular, geometric, patterned work, and beyond. You can work with 2 or 3 beads rather than simply picking up single beads, for a glass fabric that works up quicker than 1-drop peyote, and there are even variations on exactly how the stitch is worked.

Ready to learn more?

Advance your peyote stitch beading techniques with help from Nancy Cain in her Craftsy class Bead Stitching: Shaped Peyote. You'll learn how to make pieces of jewelry that look incredibly expensive, including exquisite necklaces, bracelets and earrings with the shaped peyote stitch.

Have you tried peyote stitch beading? What's your favorite bead weaving technique?

18 Comments

Rosana Betancourt-Zamora

thanks

Reply
Juliet bell

i have been trying to do the peyote stich, for a long time, but using larger beads and folling your insturations I have at last done it!!! you made it so simple for me to follow thank you very much I will now try smaller beads, thanks a lot julie bell

Reply
wanda lee

Your instructions are crystal clear, thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to try the peyote stitch for ages, but every ‘how-to’ I read was totally confusing (to this slightly dyslexic half-blind senior citizen anyway) I’m up to row 12 and it looks amazing, two shades of turquoise and a soft black, feels like it’s turning into a bracelet 🙂

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

That’s so great!

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Bead Neophyte

I feel a little ###### asking this, but what happened to the stop bead? You show it in the first photo, and then it is not seen again? Also, can you define this as even or odd peyote beading? To what does that refer? Is it the number of beads in each row? Can a project be both when it is increasing or dear easing in bead by row? Thank you!

Reply
Aleks

The stop bead became the first bead of the second row. 🙂

Reply
Tille

It was a bright pink though…

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Rebecca Anderson

The stop bead is temporary and is removed afterwards.

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Rebecca Anderson

So sorry for the late response – I have only just spied your comment! This is even-count peyote. Stop beads simply stop the beads which which you are weaving from sliding off the thread, so this is simply removed afterwards. This is a pattern for the stitch, as opposed how to finish items – tails will be woven in securely but you may wish to refer to further instructions for this. Even-count/odd-count refers to the number of stitches in a row – much like knitting, you can work a project in one, two or many stitches – they do not define a project. I hope that’s a help!

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itunu johnson

Wow….u re wonderful,ur instructions makes it very simple to do.I did it at once.thanks

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Thank you Itnu!

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Burke Johnson

Wow! Amazing job! I read a book called The Birchbark House, and one page talked breiflynof beadwork. was immensely captivated. This is the only stitch that I know, but I want to learn more! Also, all of the other guides were VERY confusing.

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Renee pickle

Thank you so much that was explained great thank you

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Rebecca Anderson

Thank you so much Renee!

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janice

After your steps 1-11 do you start again with step 1? help

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Hi Janice! If you are not sure how to continue, just turn your beading over and go back to step 7 to make row 4 in the same direction (l to r) as row 3.

Reply
Crystal

Can I use this stitch method of creating a coaster !!

Reply
Susan P

Love your tutorial I will recommend it to anyone who asks me who do you do that.

Reply

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