How to Bead With Peyote Stitch

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Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper

  • Colored pencils

  • Glass seed beads (same gauge)

  • Needle

  • Beading thread

North American natives used peyote stitch.

Beading can be used to create jewelry, embellish decorative items and decorate clothing. Some beading projects may require a loom with intricate instructions. Peyote stitch is a simple beading method that can be used to make flat beading and it does not require a loom. The Plains Indians of North America used peyote stitch and glass seed beads acquired from European settlers to adorn their headbands and clothing.


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Step 1

Draw your design idea on graph paper with colored pencil. Use an even number of columns. Use pencil colors to indicate the bead colors you will use. When design is complete, you may find it helpful to number rows and columns for reference. Your first few rows and the beads along each edge will form a frame for your design if you keep the colors uniform in these areas.

Step 2

Secure the tail of your thread with tape or in some other manner until you have a few rows stitched.

Step 3

Using your needle, place a number of beads on your thread equal to twice the number of columns in your design. The number of beads should be an even number.


Step 4

Add one bead to the thread. This bead will be the first bead of row three. Push the needle through the next to the last bead previously threaded. Add a new bead to the needle and pull the thread through the fourth bead from the turned end. Add a new bead and pull the thread through the sixth bead. Continue in this manner, adding a bead over every previous odd-number bead and then threading through every previous even-numbered bead until you reach the end of the row.

Step 5

Spread your work flat and check that you have three rows of beads. To count rows, count in a zigzag pattern along the side of the work.


Step 6

Add a new bead to begin the fourth row and thread the needle through the last bead of the third row. Continue the pattern to the end of the fourth row: add a bead, thread through the next bead and so on. Turn the work over and add a new bead at the beginning of each row, then continue the pattern.

Step 7

If you find a mistake, remove the needle and use it to help pull the thread back out through the beads. Then rethread the needle and continue.

Step 8

Refer to your design pattern for bead color changes. Put the different color in place along the row and column described in your drawn pattern.


Step 9

Tie off the beginning of your work. When you have a few rows of peyote stitch done, place a needle on the thread tail you taped at the start and weave the tail through several rows of beads in a zigzag fashion. When you are close to running out of thread, you will need to weave the working end of the thread through several rows in a zigzag manner to tie off. Start your new thread in the same way, weaving it through the existing rows to secure it.


You may find it easier to start a narrow peyote stitch sample. Keep the work flat as you go. Peyote stitch may seem confusing at first, but will become easier as you progress. The thread tends to tangle and wrap around the work, so keep the piece flat as you work to prevent this problem.


Bead gauge is critical when making a flat piece in peyote stitch. All beads should be the same size. If you use different sizes, your piece will ripple and will not lie flat. When you purchase beads, check the gauge.