Even-count flat Peyote stitch is often the first off-loom bead weaving technique that new beaders try. And it’s the one that gets them hooked! The beads fit together snugly, giving precise results, even for beginners. Centuries old, dating back to art from indigenous peoples and to ancient Egypt, peyote stitch also lends itself to contemporary designs. With Create Whimsy’s tutorial for basic flat peyote stitch and a little practice, you’ll be on your way to making both classic and modern jewelry and embellishments.
When you feel confident with even-count Peyote, you can expand your design possibilities with odd-count Peyote just by changing the way you make the turns from row to row.
First, gather a few tools and supplies:
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Beads! Japanese glass seed beads are the most consistent in size and shape, so they nest together nicely while stitching. Miyuki Delica cylinder beads stack beautifully, like tiny bricks. Size 11/0 is the most readily available and comes in every color imaginable. Size 8/0 are easier to see, so the samples below are stitched with them. With beads, the smaller the number the larger the bead. So 6/0 is larger than 8/0 is larger than 11/0 is larger than 15/0, etc.
Needles! Beading needles are long and thin so you can load more beads at a time and get into tight spaces. For most bead weaving, you will be happy with sizes 10 to 12. Like bead sizing, smaller size numbers mean larger needle sizes. For practice, start with a 10. (It’s easier to thread.) But you will be happy to have and 11 and 12 nearby if you need them.
Thread and Cutter! You want the best quality thread available to you – it’s the only thing holding all those little bits of glass together! Nylon beading thread comes in a variety of colors and is easy to work with. Fireline beading thread in crystal or smoke colors is braided polyethylene and exceptionally strong. So strong, in fact, that it will damage your good scissors. A dedicated heavy-duty cutter or thread zapper that cuts with a heated element will pay for itself.
A bead mat! You need to control those colorful little round things. They roll around like crazy on a hard surface like a table. A soft, flexible mat will keep your beads from rolling away and helps hold individual beads in place while you pick them up with your needle.
So let’s get started with an 8-column even-count Peyote sample!
Thread your needle with an arms-length of beading thread. That’s plenty for practice. Then place the needle about 1⁄3 of the way down. You will stitch with a single thread, moving the needle along as needed.
Thread a “stop bead”. This bead will not remain in your project. It’s just there to keep your starting beads in place until you finish. Pick up one bead (remember, it’s temporary, so it doesn’t have to match anything), then place it about 6 inches from the end of the thread. Then run the needle and thread through the bead one more time to keep the bead in place. Now you have some “brakes” for your project beads.
Pick up 8 beads and move them until they reach the stop bead. As you continue to stitch, these beads will stagger to form the first two rows of the stacking brick pattern.
Pick up one bead. Skipping the last bead strung (bead number 8), stitch back through the next bead (number 7). Pull the thread until the new bead is snug atop bead number 8.
Your thread now exits bead 7. Pick up a bead and skip over bead number 6. Then stitch through the next bead, number 5.
Continue adding beads until your thread exits bead number 1, next to your stop bead. But do not stitch through the stop bead!
Now you have 3 rows and can see the brick pattern forming with “up” and “down” beads. Now it gets easier!
To begin row 4, pick up one bead, skip the first “down” bead and pass the needle through the first “up” bead. (It’s the last bead you added in the previous row).
Pick up another bead, skip the next “down” bead, then stitch through the next “up” bead. Continue until the thread exits the first bead of row 3. You now have 4 complete rows of even-count Peyote stitch. It’s so easy from here!
Continue adding rows until your piece is the length you want. Keep it small as a stitch sample, or keep stitching!
To finish, weave the thread back through a couple of rows to secure the stitches. Then trim the thread.
Now it’s time to return to your stop bead. So remove it, thread the needle and weave in the thread as you did at the other end. Trim or zap the thread.
Congratulations! You are now an even-count flat Peyote stitch beadweaver! It’s as simple as: pick up a bead, skip a bead, stitch through a bead, repeat.
It’s fun to play with beads of different sizes and shapes, too. Here are a few 6-row examples. Clockwise from upper left: 4mm bugle beads, 8/0 Delica beads, 6/0 round beads, 4mm square beads. The process is exactly the same!
Browse through all of our bead projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.