Niki.Tasha – Lesson 7 – Peyote Stitch

Peyote Lesson 7 - Art Deco Design

Peyote Lesson 7 - Art Deco Design

There are many good books that can give you the instructions of the Peyote Stitch.  My favourite is a small, spiral bound book by Judith Durant & Jean Campbell:  ‘The Beader’sCompanion” , printed by Interweave Press, Inc. ISBN 1-883010-56-X.  Here is a link to where you can pick up this great little book and at a reasonable cost to yourself. .  There is also the ‘New Beader’s Companion’ at this same site.

In this and the next lesson, Niki, I will give you 2 different ways to start the peyote stitch tube:  the generally accepted way and then my way.  You can try both and decide for yourself which you prefer; you may even make a 3rd method which would be the Niki.Tasha way.

1. Cut a length of thread 2 yards long.  Thread your needle and pull both needle and thread through the Thread Heaven® or beeswax a couple of times.  Then, stretch the thread as you run the needle and thread through one hand several times.  Believe me, this really helps cut down the kinks and knots as you are stitching.

2. Put 1 bead on the thread a tail of about 12 inches from the end and run the needle through the bead a 2nd time.  This is the ‘stop bead’ which will help keep all your beads on the thread.

3. String 84 beads on the thread.   Check and double check your count.  This tube is an even number peyote pattern and these 84 beads make the first 2 rows.  The beads must be held loosely on the thread.  The slack will be taken up in the next step.

NOTE:  You must ensure the beads have lots of room because they will shift as you add the next row.  Calculating how much space to give these beads comes with practice and I admit I have never been able to figure out just how much slack is needed.

4. Run your needle through the 1st two beads, from right to left, beside the stop bead to create a tube.  … If you are right handed, Niki, you will be working from right to left.  But, if you are a leftie like me, your needle and ‘working thread’ will move from left to right.  …  Add a bead on your needle, skip a bead on your tube and run your needle through the next bead.   Add another  bead on your needle and skip a bead, and run the needle through the next bead.  Continue in this way, adding a bead and running your working thread through every 2nd bead, until you return to the beginning.   Slip your needle through the first 2 beads of the row just finished. 

Niki, you may now remove the stop bead if you wish:  I prefer to keep it because it will indicate the beginning and ending of the original row.  That helps when working your pattern.  It also acts as a weight on that 12 inches of tail thread which helps keep it out of the way of your working thread.

5.  You have now recognized that the Peyote technique is an offset pattern.  Following either of the 2 patterns offered on the last post, only 1 portion of the design has been graphed.  It is up to you whether or not you repeat the design on the backside.  Your stress level will be lower if you work the back in one solid colour.  Once you get the hang of things, you can add a 2nd full design on the backside or mix things up any way you like.

Ending and Beginning a Working Thread:

6.  Don’t work your design until you have run out of thread.  Allow at least 4 inches of working thread to use in ending the thread.  Run your needle through beads, one at a time, in a downward diagonal line.  Every 3 beads run the needle through the bead immediately above the bead your needle has just exited.  One at a time again, run the needle through another 2 or 3 beads.  Double back as before until a) you run out of working thread, or b) you are satisfied that the thread will not work its way loose. 

NOTE:  Some beaders add a discreet knot or 2 during their finishing a thread.  A small dab of glue is added by some beaderswith steady hands.  I have had great success with my method without the knots and the glue (my hands shake too much).

7.  Your 2nd and all other threads need not be nearly as long as the first one.  I like to use a thread 3 ft in length.  Leaving a tail of about 3 inches long, run the needle through your beads in an upward diagonal manner exactly the way you did to finish a thread.  You will double back several times and check to ensure the thread is not going to work its way free … tug on the working thread.  Bring your needle up in the exact same spot as where you ended.

8.  Continue working until you run out of pattern.  The last row must be even all around – don’t end in the middle of the row.  If you have lots of thread left in your needle, don’t end and cut the thread off.  Jump to Lesson 8 – Bottom’s Up.

6.  The designs I listed in Lesson 6 have no colour notations.  It is your choice what colours to use.  As mentioned, if you add your favourite colour as the basic, you will enjoy the process a whole lot more.  Keep a balance of bright shiny beads and flat matte beads.  The play of light on the different bead finishes adds to the design.  But, a little goes a long way. 

I hope you enjoy your first project, Niki.


Tubular Peyote Stitch:  A technique in which a hollow tube is created by adding a bead in the space between 2 beads of the previous round.

Stop Bead:  A bead through which the needle passes twice  to keep all the beads on the thread.  After the first 3 rows it acts as a weight to help identify  and keep the long tail away from the working thread.

Working Thread:  The thread going from a bead and through the eye of the needle.  It becomes evident once some beads are added.  ‘Working Thread’ becomes a helpful shorter term when describing complicated needle movement.

Copyright © 2008 Helene Turnbull.  All rights reserved.  No part of this work covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproducted or used in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems – without written permission of the author.