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How to Make a Beaded Spiral Rope Chain

Updated on September 28, 2010

Learn to Make an Elegant Beaded Chain

This easy beading stitch results in a flexible rope of beads. The spiral rope looks lovely by itself, but it is also easy to embellish either during the beadweaving or after the rope is complete. This is a great beginning beading project because it is simple and also very inexpensive.

Though I love making beaded jewelry, I don't usually wear jewelry. When I do decide to wear jewelry, a spiral rope chain is one of my favorite pieces because it's simple and elegant. The rope makes a lovely necklace or anklet. You can make a very delicate-looking chain using tiny beads, but the smaller the beads are, the longer it will take to make your chain. Normal size seed beads work up into a beaded chain pretty quickly, without being heavy or clunky. Try varying the sizes of the beads within the chain for a different-looking pattern.

Beaded Spiral Rope Chain Materials

Beads

You can use any beads for this project, though seed beads are the usual choice. In this example I used size 11 beads, but use any size or shape. The inner core beads must have a hole wide enough for 4 thread/needle passes.

Thread

I used size D Nymo, but I think a lightweight Fireline or PowerPro would be stronger and still flexible. I use size B Nymo when I make a rope with size 15 seed beads because the tiny beads can't accomodate thick thread.

Needle

A size 10 beading needle works for size 11 beads, but you will want a smaller needle if you use smaller beads.

Shop for Beading Materials

Beadsmith English Assortment So Handy Beading Needles
Beadsmith English Assortment So Handy Beading Needles

These needles are like sewing needles, but much thinner, in order to fit through the holes in tiny beads. This is an assortment of 4 needles, in 3 of the most popular sizes, 2 x size 10, 1 x size 12 & 1 x size 13.

 
Gemstone Bead Mix 4mm Round Beads /15.5 Inch Strand
Gemstone Bead Mix 4mm Round Beads /15.5 Inch Strand

A great way to get a varied selection of semi-precious gemstone beads without having to purchase large quantities of each.

 
Fiskars 12-94967097 Beading Snip
Fiskars 12-94967097 Beading Snip

Versatile, lightweight scissors are great for a variety of uses.

 
Wholesale lot 500 Bicone 4mm Swarovski #5328 Crystal Beads 25colors
Wholesale lot 500 Bicone 4mm Swarovski #5328 Crystal Beads 25colors

Quantity: 500 beads total. 25 colors (20 beads of each color).

 
Gemstone Bead Mix 8mm Rondelle Beads 15 Inch Strand
Gemstone Bead Mix 8mm Rondelle Beads 15 Inch Strand

A great way to get a varied selection of beads without having to purchase large quantities of each.

 

Beaded Chain Step 1:

I like to work with a long length of thread so that I can complete the chain without adding new thread. If your thread is fairly thick, it can be tricky adding new lengths while working. On the other hand, if your thread is thin, the resulting rope may be weak. The thread only passes through the beads in the spiral once!

With these considerations in mind, cut a length of thread (mine was about 5 feet or about 1.5 meters), condition it with beeswax or Threadheaven (optional), and thread your needle. String on 4 core beads (gold) and 3 spiral beads (blue). Allow the beads to slide down to within 6-12" of the end. You will use this thread to attach a clasp or to join it to some other work. Pass the needle through the 4 core beads, entering from the tail end (as in photo, tail is 'down', working end is 'up'). Avoid piercing your thread.

Beaded Chain Step 2:

Here's what results from the first thread pass. You will have spiral beads (blue) alongside the core beads (gold).

Learn More Beading Stitches

Beading on a Loom (Beadwork How-To)
Beading on a Loom (Beadwork How-To)

Focusing specifically on loom bead weaving, this book provides extensive information on building a loom, loomwork techniques, and design techniques.

 
Beading with Right Angle Weave (Beadwork How-To)
Beading with Right Angle Weave (Beadwork How-To)

The right angle weave stitch is demystified in this beading handbook. After mastering the basics, crafters can create their own beautiful jewelry with 30 projects that include a trendsetting garnet and carnelian necklace, a bead lace jabot, and a sapphire crystal bracelet.

 
Beadweaving Brilliance 2: Make Beautiful Jewelry While Mastering Six Basic Beading Stitches
Beadweaving Brilliance 2: Make Beautiful Jewelry While Mastering Six Basic Beading Stitches

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The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques
The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques

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Beading on Fabric: Encyclopedia of Bead Stitch Techniques
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Beginner's Guide to Beading on a Loom

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Netting All the Way (Beading with Varvara)
Netting All the Way (Beading with Varvara)

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Beading with Herringbone Stitch (Beadwork How-To)
Beading with Herringbone Stitch (Beadwork How-To)

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Beading with Peyote Stitch (Beadwork How-To)
Beading with Peyote Stitch (Beadwork How-To)

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Beaded Chain Step 3:

String on 1 core bead and 3 spiral beads. Let them slide down to your work. Pass the needle up through the last 4 core beads (3 old and 1 new), as shown in the photo, from tail end toward the working end. Don't pass through any spiral beads.

Beaded Chain Step 4:

Here's what you get. You simply repeat the previous step over and over (and over and over) until your spiral reaches the desired length. The rows of spiral beads will start to line up with each other, as seen in the next pass/photo.

Beaded Chain Step 5:

Add 1 core/3 spiral and pass through the last 4 core beads (1 old, 3 new). Feel free to experiment with types of beads and also the number of beads used for the outer spiral (e.g., use 4 spiral beads instead of 3). You can use 2 or 3 colors of spiral beads instead of just one. Also, try using different sizes of beads for the core and spiral. You can intersperse sections of spiral rope with larger beads or other stitches. More advanced beaders may enjoy working fringe or flowers on the spiral or adding embellishment to a completed spiral. I made a simple necklace with the spiral by adding a large bead at one end of the chain and a loop of beads at the other end.

For beginners, here's an explanation of how to add a bead and loop closure, string an 8-mm bead and a seed bead, pass back into the 8-mm bead, run through the work a bit, backtrack through the 8-mm and seed bead, back through the 8-mm, weave back into work. Stitch from the chain through the 8-mm/seed bead as many times as you can to make the connection as strong as possible. Weave back into the work a ways and cut your thread. At the other end, string on seed beads to make a loop that just barely fits around the 8-mm bead. Weave back into the work, back through the loop, back into the work, through the loop, etc., until no more passes are possible or the work is secure. Cut the thread. Enjoy!

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    • Mortira profile image

      Mortira 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Beads and Jewels group!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      thank u for the tip on a beaded loop closure...i've been making this style of bracelet for 6 months now, sometimes the clasps seemed to clash a bit with the colors of the beads...now i won't have that problem anymore!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi

      I am a beginner and i looked at many tutorials for this stitch, yours was the only one i could follow, Can different size beads be used.

      I love this stitch, thankyou so much

    • profile image

      kimadagem 5 years ago

      This is a really fun stitch to do and not that hard once you get past the first couple of "loops." And I really like the spiral effect. I'm glad you've put instructions here, especially with photos, because I don't make this often and sometimes when I do I have to refresh my memory about how to start it. Now I know where to go!

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