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Beading Tutorials: Flat Peyote Stitch

Updated on September 8, 2011

Learn to Create Peyote Stitch Beadwork

Peyote stitch, also called gourd stitch, is a classic bead weaving technique used in all kinds of beadwork and crafts. It's origins are Native American, though the basic stitch and variations of it are used all over the world to create everything from jewelry, to beads, to home décor items.

The following tutorials will explain how to create flat beadwork using three variations of peyote stitch. For beginners, it is recommended that you begin by trying out two-drop peyote, which is easier to learn than standard single-bead peyote weaving.

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This technique is highly structured, so uniform seed beads are ideal for creating even and straight peyote. Delicas or Japanese seed beads are recommended, especially for beginners. Large sizes such as 11o or 8o can help make your first attempts at peyote stitch easier.

If you don't have access to Japanese seed beads, Czech seed beads that are very uniform in size and shape can be used. Foil lined beads are great for peyote stitch. To make learning this technique even easier, you can also use cube beads, which will snug up evenly and create very steady beadwork.

When learning peyote stitch, Fireline or another braided fishing line is recommended for your beading thread. The stiffness helps to keep the beads snug while stitching, which is important for keeping even tension and makes stitching easier overall.

If you prefer to use nylon or other woven threads, it is recommended that you stretch your thread before stitching, and condition it thoroughly with beeswax. Limp threads are not ideal for peyote stitch, and can make learning this technique frustrating.

Regular flat peyote stitch is a bead weaver's bread and butter. This technique, and variations of it are used for all types of beadwork. Mastering this stitch can be a bit of a challenge, but it can open up many design possibilties.

Materials Needed:

Seed beads

Beading thread

Beading needle

Stitching:

Step 1) Attach a stop-bead to a comfortable length of thread, leaving an 8 inch tail. Pick up an even number of beads.

Step 2) With the stop bead facing away from you, use your left thumb and forefinger to grasp the last two beads in the stack, as well as a bit of the working thread, to keep the beads steady. Pinch the beads from the side, to allow access for your needle.

Step 3) Pick up one bead, and stitch up into the second bead in the stack. Pull tight, making sure the new bead is side-by-side with the first bead in the stack.


Step 4) Without letting go of the beadwork, pick up one bead, and stitch up the the fourth bead in the stack. Pull tight.

Step 5) Carefully shift your grip to cover the new beads as you work, and pull the working thread to keep the stitches tight. Don't worry if the beadwork appears curved.

Step 6) Continue adding one bead at a time, skipping one bead in the stack and stitching through the next.

Step 7) When the row is complete, flip the work over so the working thread is facing you. Pick up one bead, and stitch up through the first raised bead in the previous row. Pull tight.

Step 8) Continue adding one bead at a time, stitching up through each raised bead.

Step 9) Flip the beadwork over to start the next row. If the bead work is curved, gently pull it straight with your fingers from the center out.

Step 10) Continue adding rows until the beadwork is the desired length. Remove stop-beads, secure the tails and trim.

Adding and ending thread:

With about 6 inches of working thread remaining at the end of a row, stitch down into the previous row, and continue following the thread path diagonally towards the center of the beadwork. Tie a knot every 4 to 6 beads if desired, and trim after the final knot. To secure the thread without knots, stitch a figure-eight pattern in the beadwork with the thread and trim the excess.

Attach a stop-bead to the new thread, leaving a 6 inch tail, and enter the beadwork at least 4 beads below the point where the last row ended. Stitch in a zig-zag pattern up the beadwork, to exit the last bead in the row. Continue stitching normally.

Peyote Stitch Hint

How to Master Peyote

The first few rows of regular flat peyote can be the most difficult. It can be practical to skip these steps and become more comfortable with weaving using a picot base.

Materials Needed:

Seed beads

Beading thread

Beading needle

Stitching:

Step 1) Create a bead ladder 16 beads long, with an 8 inch tail. Exit the last bead in the ladder, and pick up 3 beads.

Step 2) Stitch down through the next bead in the ladder, then up through the following bead and pull tight. This will form a picot.

Step 3) Continue adding 3 beads at a time in this manner until the ladder has 8 picots.

Step 4) Stitch up through the previous bead in the ladder, and up through the last bead added. (This step is similar to a step-up in flat herringbone stitch.)

Step 5) Pick up one bead, and stitch through the raised bead of the picot. Pull tight.

Step 6) Continue adding one bead at a time to the raised beads, using peyote stitch, until the working thread exits the last picot.

Step 7) Flip the work over, and continue adding beads with peyote stitch until the bead work is the desired length.

If you are satisfied with the beadwork, you can remove the picot stitches and finish the piece as desired.

Peyote Stitch Bracelet

This short tutorial video from Auntie's Beads demonstrates using flat even count peyote stitch to create a cuff bracelet.

This video also shows how to end thread using half-hitch knots, and how to create a clasp with a button and seed bead loop.

Peyote Stitch Seed Beads

To give your flat beadwork the best uniform shape, try using some high quality Japanese seed beads in your favorite colors. Shaped seed beads such as cubes, triangles or hex cuts are also great for peyote stitch, because the flat edges help keep the beadwork form curving.

Odd Count Peyote Stitch

A Simple Variation

Odd count peyote is similar to even count, except that there are an odd number of beads in each row. This technique is essential for creating flat beadwork with a single bead at the center, and is commonly used for creating patterns. It is also excellent for beaded toggles.

There are a few variations for performing the switch back to begin odd-numbered rows. The following tutorial uses the common figure eight technique.

Materials Needed:

Seed beads

Beading thread

Beading needle

Stitching:

Step 1) Attach a stop bead to a comfortable length of beading thread, leaving a 6 inch tail. Pick up an odd number of seed beads and slide them down to the stop bead.


Step 2) Complete the next row using regular peyote stitch, picking up one bead at a time and stitching through the next bead from the previous row.


Step 3) To complete this row, you will need to perform a switch back. Pick up one bead and stitch back through the 2nd and 3rd beads from the start of the first row. Pull tight. The new bead should now be in position at the end of the second row.

Step 4) Stitch up through the 2nd to last bead from the new row, and through the last two beads of the previous row to exit near the stop bead. Pull tight.


Step 5) To start the next row, stitch through the last bead added. Flip the beadwork, and pick up one bead per stitch, continuing with the peyote technique. Complete this row as with regular peyote.


Step 6) Flip the beadwork and begin the next row. To finish the row, pick up the last bead, skip the previous bead, and stitch up through the next bead. Pull tight.


Step 7) To switch back, stitch down through the bead in the previous row, and the last bead of the current row. Pull tight.


Step 8) Start the next row by stitching up through the last bead added. Continue adding rows in this manner until the beadwork is the desired length. Add and end thread as needed as with even count peyote stitch.

Odd Count Peyote Bracelet

This beading tutorial video from Auntie's Beads demonstrates creating a simple cuff bracelet using odd count peyote. The switch back method used is slightly different from the above tutorial.

To see the completion of the bracelet using a shank button and bead loop clasp, check out

Odd Count Peyote Bracelet Part II.

Two-drop peyote works up much quicker than regular flat peyote, and is great for large pieces of beadwork. However, it will not work with standard peyote patterns, because of the double-stacked beads.

Materials Needed:

Seed beads

Beading thread

Beading needle

Stitching:

Step 1) Attach a stop-bead to a comfortable length of thread, leaving an 8 inch tail. Pick up an even number of beads, divisible by four.

Step 2) With the stop-bead facing away from you, use your left thumb and forefinger to grasp the last two beads in the stack, as well as a bit of the working thread, to keep the beads steady. Pinch the beads from the side, to allow access for your needle.

Step 3) Pick up two beads, and stitch up through the 3rd and 4th beads in the stack. Pull tight.


Step 4) Continue adding two beads at a time, skipping two beads in the row, and stitching up through the next two. As you work, shift your grip on the beadwork to grasp the new beads added, pulling snug as you go.


Step 5) Flip the beadwork over to begin the next row. Pick up two beads, and stitch up through the first set of two raised beads in the previous row. Pull tight.

Step 6) Continue adding two beads at a time until the beadwork is the desired length. Remove stop-beads, secure the tails and trim.

Adding and ending thread:

With about 6 inches of working thread remaining at the end of a row, stitch down into the previous row, and continue following the thread path diagonally towards the center of the beadwork. Tie a knot every 4 to 6 beads and trim after the final knot. To secure the thread without knots, stitch a figure-eight pattern in the beadwork with the thread and trim the excess.

Attach a stop-bead to the new thread, leaving a 6 inch tail, and enter the beadwork at least 8 beads below the point where the last row ended. Stitch in a zig-zag pattern up the beadwork, to exit the last bead in the row. Continue stitching normally.

Many beaders find peyote stitch to be one of the most difficult to learn. Even when the basic technique has become familiar, some artists still need plenty of practice to achieve flat and even beadwork.

Some bead weavers avoid peyote stitch altogether, and prefer to use more interesting styles such as herringbone weave or spiral rope.

How difficult do you find peyote stitch?

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Zipping Up Peyote Stitch

You can join two pieces of peyote stitch, or connect the edges of one flat piece of beadwork to create beaded tubes. These peyote tubes are great for use as beads and spacers, and also make excellent toggles for bracelet and necklace clasps.

To join the edges of a strip of peyote, you must first make sure that both edges are even, with the same number of rows. If your beadwork is quite long, do not weave in your original tail thread. You can tell that there is an even number of rows when your working thread exits from the opposite edge as your first tail thread.

The side that your working thread is exiting will be referred to as Side A. The opposite edge will be referred to as Side B.

Peyote Tube:

Step 1) Fold the beadwork so that the ends meet, and hold it steady with your non-stitching hand. Stitch through the first raised bead on Side B. Pull tight.

Step 2) Stitch through the closest raised bead on Side A and pull tight. Notice that your thread path is identical to that of the usual peyote stitch, but you are connecting the existing beads, rather than adding new ones.

Step 3) Continue weaving back and forth between the edges of the beadwork to zip up the peyote. When your thread is exiting the top edge, stitch back down into the beadwork to connect the last two beads together.

Step 4) Weave through the tube at least once to secure the thread. Tie a few half hitch knots, if desired, and trim.

Picot Edging:

If you are making a peyote beaded toggle, you can embellish the ends for a more polished look, and to protect the bridge threads that connect the rows of beadwork. One method is to add beaded picots. For a closed tube, you will need to start with a strip of peyote that has an odd number of rows.

Step 1) After completing Step 3 above, weave through the beadwork to exit the opposite end of the tube. Pick up 3 beads.

Step 2) Stitch down into the next bead stack and pull tight. Stitch back up through the following bead stack to exit the tube again.

Step 3) Continue adding picots until your thread is exiting from the final bead stack. Pick up 2 beads and slide them down to the beadwork.

Step 4) Stitch through the middle bead from each picot and pull tight until the beads snug up into a tight ring. Retrace the thread path two more times.

Step 5) Stitch down into the beaded tube. Weave through the beadwork, tying half hitch knots if desired, and trim the thread. Secure any remaining tails and trim.

Peyote Stitch Variations

From the editors of the world's bestselling beading magazine, Bead&Button, comes a complete course in using peyote stitch for all kinds of amazing and interesting beadwork. Featuring projects from past publications, beginners and experts alike will enjoy learning about peyote stitch and it's variations with these step-by-step tutorials.

Peyote Stitch: Beading Projects
Peyote Stitch: Beading Projects

This indepth guide to peyote stitch features over 25 projects for bracelets, necklaces, pins, purses, and home decor objects, using many types of peyote stitch. Techniques include 2 and 3 drop peyote, ruffled, flat and spiral peyote stitch.

 

Peyote Stitch Projects

These free peyote projects can help you master these techniques while creating wonderful beadwork for yourself and your friends.

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    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Blessed by an angel.

      Great tutorial!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      Wow, fabulous work, far too fiddly for me with my arthritic fingers but an excellent tutorial 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      Great tutorial! Added another blessing! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Interesting Site organized and lovely explanations here, although the different materials and sizes are mentioned, sometimes beginners like me would love to know what size the beads are and what beading threads are used to get a neat finish!!!

    • Mortira profile image
      Author

      Mortira 7 years ago

      Thanks Ramya!

      Most of the tutorials are linked to resources for learning about beads and threads. You can read all about them here:

      https://hubpages.com/art/sagescupboard_justbeads

      https://hubpages.com/art/sagescupboard

      Good luck with all of your future beading projects!

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I've just added you to my lens role. Thanks for the great detail

    • Kitty Levee profile image

      Kitty Levee 6 years ago

      Great directions!

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image

      Grandma-Marilyn 6 years ago

      Not sure yet. Waiting to see what I create next for my patterns.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great instructions clear and precise. can't wait to try them!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great instructions clear and precise. can't wait to try them!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Excellent instructions! It's not easy to explain and the pictures help a lot. Well done. I love peyote stitch and find it therapeutic!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      beaded balls with the neclace

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