Bead Stitching/bead weaving is one of my FAVORITE things to do as far as jewelry crafting goes. They turn out so beautifully it is hard not to fall in love with the results. This being said, beware of the stitches you choose to begin with (more about this later).
As I am sure many people know, bead stitching/weaving is a very old method used to make jewelry. Often times, the projects can be very inexpensive (depending on the beads you chose to use). However, they are often very time-consuming. If you make jewelry to sell as I do, please do not forget to account for the time spent on making the item. I see people charge little for items because they used mainly seed beads to create the project but the stitch and item itself is very intricate and could have taken many hours or even days to complete.
Now to the good stuff. I began bead weaving back when I was very new to the craft with a project such as this:
This is a very basic Right Angle Weave (RAW) bracelet. This particular bracelet uses Swarovski Crystals and Sterling Silver so it was not cheap to make in the least bit. However, it was quick and simple to make. Also, this stitch it very easy to use. In this particular bracelet I used a 49 strand flexible beading wire so the bracelet maintained some stiffness while still being very flexible. As you can see, there are many possible color combinations here. I am sure you can use other beads but I am addicted to Swarovski crystals so here ya have it. I learned this particular stitch at Bead and Wire in Seekonk. www.beadandwire.com
Next I learned the flat spiral stitch. What a fun and beautiful stitch this is! It takes longer (but it’s not too bad) to work up than the previous bracelet but the results are gorgeous. This is when I first learned that size matters. The size of the bead you go with is very important. You must adhere to this unless otherwise stated when learning a new pattern. The Flat spiral stitch requires 6mm beads, 4mm beads and seed beads in size 11/0. You can use rounds, bicones, ovals… what ever your heart desires! This stitch also made me realize the versatility of firepolish beads and how much I adore using them in my work. Here was my first flat spiral stitch bracelet:
I am in love with this stitch. This was my first bracelet that made me say “I made this” with a sense of pride haha. And… firepolish is gorgeous. I am sold! The possibilities for this bracelet are endless. Once you learn the logistics of the stitch you can combine all kinds of colors and/or different shapes of beads. Work up a few rows to see if you like it. If not, take it apart and try something else. I started using fireline with this project which I love. It is much softer than the wire and this bracelet is flaccid (but not flimsy). Fireline is a strong material and will not break easily. Also, fireline is thin thread so you can make multiple passes through the beads if you are more comfortable with that and that in turn will stiffen it a bit if that’s what you prefer.
Then I learned RAW using seed beads crossed over the top of it. I love the results of this bracelet and its even easier/quicker than the previous stitch. Again, many options here. You can use different size beads if you’d like. I did. I just played around with the amount of seed beads to cross over the top to make the bracelet look more finished. I think I learned this one in a beading mag. Once you start learning some stitches, you learn how to switch it up/make it more original to your own aesthetic. The nice part of using fireline or a beading thread is that when you have completed your bracelet, you can either attach a toggle as I have done, or weave your own. Also, you can use many different styles of toggles as well. So here is my RAW bracelet with the seed beads crossing over:
I really wanted to make a beaded bangle so I learned to make a brick stitch bangle. Not expensive to make if you use seed beads as I did and it only requires like 10 inches of craft wire to keep the shape of the bracelet. This stitch was easy once you had a few rows stitched up. The first couple of rows were tough and I had to keep taking it apart because I was making mistakes left and right. It is hard-working with a few little seed beads while trying to conceptualize the pattern and keep things where they belong. Well I loved the results. This bangle is a great addition to your other bracelets. It is an awesome accent piece and its super light so it can easily be worn with other pieces. However, I have to say, when I saw this pattern my first thought was “piece of cake”. I was excited too because of the project being relatively inexpensive. However, I don’t realize that it would be as tough to start the work as it was. I also didn’t realize how LONG it would take to work it up to completion! Sheesh! I must say though, once the groundwork was laid, the brick stitch was repetitive and simple but time-consuming!!!! Either way, I would still love to make more of these:
Now, I am working on an African Helix Stitch bracelet. I am utterly in love with it! At the time I have no pictures of my work but I’ve inserted a photo of an example just for visualization purposes. This stitch was also tough to start. Once I got a hang of it though, it’s been smooth sailing. I’ve been working on this bracelet for days already. I haven’t even counted the hours spent. I have found that this bracelet, more so any of the previous ones, looks much better with several passes of the thread through the beads. The beads tend to place better if you pass back through the accent beads after you’ve stitched a few inches. Here is the example of the African Helix Stitch:
As time goes on, I am sure I will learn may more stitches to add into my work. In fact, I know a few others but I used them in earrings and/or rings so I won’t include them in this post as this post focuses on bracelets. You can check out my shop to see some of my other stitched items in my earrings and rings sections at www.etsy.com/shop/TheSilverFindings
I hope you enjoyed reading my post and any feedback you have would be welcome and greatly appreciated! 🙂