How to Make Native American Beadwork

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Native American beadwork has been around for thousands of years. The designs that this beadwork can take on can be very colorful, expressive and extremely creative. The beadwork can be done with many different materials, such as shells, quills, bone or coral, but the following techniques use glass or plastic beads. After you get the hang of these techniques, you can get as inventive with your designs and materials as you feel comfortable.

Things You'll Need

  • Thread
  • Beading needles
  • Glass or plastic beads, small to medium-sized
  • Fabric or material

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Double Needle Technique

Cut the material or fabric that you want to use for your beadwork. If there is a sketch that you want to transfer onto the material for beading guidance, do this now.

Thread two needles and secure one end of each thread with a knot for this technique.

Place beads on one thread in your desired pattern and lay them on the fabric you will be sewing them to.

Use the second needle as a whipstitch, threading the beading string to the fabric between each bead that has been strung. This will secure the beading thread and beads firmly to the fabric or material in any pattern you choose.

Lazy Stitch Technique

Cut material or fabric that you want to use for your beadwork. This can be any shape or design that you want.

Thread your needle, tie a knot at the end securely, and thread it through your chosen fabric or material.

Place 1 to 7 beads on the string in any pattern that you want. Sew through your material and pull tight.

Tie the end of this string and cut the excess. This will ensure that if any of the lazy stitch strings breaks, the rest will not be affected.

Repeat the procedure as many times as it takes to complete your project.

Simple Peyote Stitch Technique

Thread needle and securely tie a bead at the end. It helps to thread this bead twice to make sure that it is securely in place and can take the strain of being the end bead. Leave a 4 to 6 inch length of string at the end of the threading string.

Thread the beads that are contained on the first two rows of your beadwork design.

Start the third row of your design by threading the first bead of that row. Observe that every two beads of the second row is higher than the beads in between. Go to the first raised bead from your current location and thread your string through it. Place another bead for your third row. Thread through the next raised bead. Keep this pattern going until you reach the end. The beads should fit together like zipper teeth.

Start the fourth row going the opposite direction and follow the same technique, new bead then secure it to every other bead in the previous row.

Repeat until the desired pattern is complete.


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