Designing Beading Patterns with Seed Beads & Converting Stitches
Beaders dapple in all kinds of branched out subject matter. Ever dip your toes into PMC or resin? How about soldering or lamp-working? The road of beaders always tends to veer off into smaller paths of temptation...often leading you into a new genre all-together. For all the new things you may try, you’ll always come back to what you love the most. For me, its seed beads.
“Wait a minute! What are you sewing together with that thread? Is that…. DUST?” ~ Gisselle, a quilter who fears size 15.0 seed beads!
First, I must say that a common misconception of seed beading is the time frame. Its definitely not a speed sport. But, you can create something beautiful in an afternoon that is functional and lovely! But where to start? Well, there are plenty of books out there to inspire you, but if you’re more adventurous, then I’d like to show you how to create your own masterpiece fairly easily.
Let’s make a fresh bracelet!
I’m going to assume that you know your stitches. I you aren’t familiar with peyote, brick, netting, right angle weave and others, then you can learn easily by taking a class, opening a book or surfing the web. Or, if you only know a couple of stitches, then you can mix and match them up in a way that will be awesome. Let’s begin with something basic, such as a peyote band.
Create an image, pattern or design
There’s more than one way to go about this. You can go with a solid color, a speckled confetti of many colors, or you can do stripes, dots or shapes. Or, you can create an image. If you want something more structured, then you need a graph to begin with. I use my MicroSoft Publisher program to make a series of ovals representing beads, and then color them in to create the pattern I want. But you can do a search for peyote graph paper (or any stitch you wish) and print it out. Then use colored pencils to fill in your design.
“Cull your seed beads and only select the most uniform ones when you’re weaving them together. The wonky shaped beads are suitable for bead embroidery and other projects, but weaving a fabric of beads together requires perfection!” ~ Alyson, weaver extraordinaire
If you want to have a more sophisticated image, then consider getting a pattern design program. You can actually import a picture into this program and it will transfer it into a beading pattern for you. You can manipulate it by changing colors or designing on top of the image as well.
Mix and match your stitches!
I love to add stitches together. It gives an opportunity to literally have endless combinations for jewelry design. So here’s an easy way to do it. Begin with something you know. Like that peyote band we talked about already. Your thread will be exiting from a bead on the end, and we’re about to add a row of netting to the outside edge of your bracelet.
Important! Think of the thread that’s inside your woven beads as a highway of travel for your needle. You can maneuver your needle to follow through the beads to be able to pop out in any part of your bracelet.
Your needle should be exiting from the top bead on your bracelet. Now pick up an odd number of beads and pass your needle into bead number 4 in the direction of your bracelet. Then exit out bead number 5 and you’ll be in position to add another odd number of beads. I chose 5 for the example shown, but the more beads you add the more loose the netting will be. To add a row on the other side, simply travel with your needle inside the beads to the other side of your bracelet, and then begin adding netting going up the other side. You can add another row of netting if you wish. By adding a drop bead or a different shaped bead instead of the center bead creates a whole new look.
“Beautiful bracelet! Is it painted? Oh, is it… what is that? Beads? But where’s the fabric? Oh, no fabric? Beads and thread only? Oh, you are CRAZY!!” ~ The first conversation I had with my friend Robinne, who is not a beader,
Design on top of a band!
There are other ways to razz-ma-tazz up your design. Begin with a band of something. Really, anything will work. Brick stitch, netting, peyote, herringbone… whatever you want. Then you can add some bling and glitz to the top of your band. Think of this band as a canvas on which to add color, movement and style!
Travel through your beads until you’ve coming out in a place where you’d like to attach, say, a sequin, flower bead or drop. Then add your embellishment bead (and an anchor bead if you need it) and then go back down into the band where you came out. Now travel to a new area and do it again, until you’ve got enough ornamentation on the surface of your band. Results can be dramatic if you add lots of beads on there.
“Weaving beads together is not a speed sport, marathon or competition. It’s a journey of meditation and rhythm. Let yourself get immersed in it.” ~ Dianne Maplethorpe, weaving beads into amazing designs since 1961
I’ve never taken my seed beads lightly. They are full of potential to be worked up into just about anything I want them to be. Designing with seed beads is easy if you’ll just let yourself sit down with them and play. Experiment with your own version of stitches. You may have a happy accident and fall in love with something new!