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Freeform Peyote Stitch Bracelet

A Beadwork Free Bead pattern and Step by Step Tutorial


Freeform Peyote Stitch Beaded BraceletFreeform Peyote stitch, even thought is can seem intimidating, is actually incredibly simple, fun, and quick to do. It can also be a huge, involved and long-term project; how much time, how many beads and what effort you put into a beaded piece is entirely up to you. There are no big secrets to working freeform Peyote stitch; all it takes is the courage to "color outside the lines" and "think outside the box”.

To prove that this really is and easy beading technique to work, the bracelet (half of it anyway) pictured above shows a very first attempt at this technique. The best way to teach this beading method is to give you a few ideas as to how the piece pictured here was done and to pass on some ideas about how to get started beading in freeform.

First, choose a selection of seed beads in one or two color families. It is not necessary to stick with only one color, but doing so can give the work some cohesiveness it might otherwise lack. Besides, you can be sure that the shades you pick out will "go together" that way. Look for as many different surface finishes as possible plus a range of opaques, mattes, irises and transparents. Be sure your selection includes several different sizes of seed beads; 10s, 11s, 13s, 14s and a few Delicas. The more variety the better!

Then, pick out a focal beads. It can be a gorgeous lampwork bead, a crystal, a beautiful dichroic bead or any other standout bead you choose.


Freeform Peyote Stitch Beading Base RowOnce your seed beads and focal beads are ready, it is time to start beading. Begin by stringing groups of each type of seed bead on size B Nymo or a similar diameter thread. You will be weaving in and out a lot so it is a good idea to stick with a relatively thin thread. Add beads to the thread until you have enough to go halfway around your wrist; approximately 3 1/2 - 4 inches, depending on the size of your wrist.

Next, add the focal bead and more seeds until the two sides are of equal length. Don't make each group of a color the same number of beads. Try to make it look at least semi-random by picking up say, 5 of one color, 2 of another, then 7, then 4, etc. It is also a good idea to keep the number of seed beads to an even number, that way you will be able to work a regular even-count flat Peyote stitch for your base row. Watch out for a tendency to put the same colors next to each other each time. You may want to make your string of beads a little bit longer than you want the finished bracelet to be because it tends to shrink some.


Freeform Peyote with Beaded Base Rows Now you're ready to start working a Flat Even Count Peyote Stitch back the way you came. Add two rows on top and two on the bottom. When you get to the focal bead, simply pass through it and resume Peyote stitching on the other side.

After adding your two rows of Peyote stitch to the top of the base row and the two rows to the bottom, this is what your Freeform Peyote Stitch bracelet may begin to look like. This is a good time to check for sizing - make sure that the band will fit the circumference of your wrist. If it is short, you can still add a little "patch" for freeform Peyote stitch to make up the difference. If it is long, you can keep in mind that you'll need to add in a few loops or even a little "pleats" in the finished item. Freeform is very forgiving. As long as you are close to the size needed, don't worry.

Another thing not to worry about, and this is a departure from normal, formal Peyote stitch beadwork, is keeping the beading perfectly flat and straight, because you can't. Mixing bead sizes naturally makes the beadwork a little wavy and a little uneven. If your peyote is normally a little funky or if you like an organic feel to your beadwork, then this is the perfect technique for you!


Adding Beads to the Peyote Stitch Base Rows Now it'S time to go to your stash again and pick out some larger beads you want to incorporate into the piece. You may either work with beads you pulled when you began or you can just grab anything that looks like it would work. Good choices are E beads, round, facetted, rondelle or chip semi-precious stone beds. Used with care (as they tend to cut thread) Swarovski crystals are gorgeous in a project like this. You can also use teardrops, window beads, druks, cubes; pretty much anything!.

The next part is easy to do, once you just start it! Begin by simply picking up beads, some little ones and occasionally a big one, and making loops along the sides of the peyote strip. Try not to go back and rip out any stitches. Remember, there are no mistakes with freeform! If a loop looks too big, simply weave back and tack it down to the base row.

You can add Peyote stitch to some of the loops or leave them as they are. Connect loops to other loops or to the base row. Don't be afraid to double back and add stitches. Use your imagination and your personal sense of aesthetics to make the bracelet into your idea of what freeform peyote should look like. There are links to some beautiful freeform beaded pieces at the end of this article, so that you can see how other people interpret this technique.


Add a Few Finishing Touches Once you have your accent beads added, make loops around them by coming out a few beads ahead of the added bead picking up a few seeds, going through the seed at the top of the accent bead, then picking up some more seeds and re-entering the edge on the other side of the accent bead. Don't just make perfect round little loops. Try putting a bunch of beads on one side and only a couple on the other so that the accent bead will turn almost parallel with the edge. Make each loop a different size and shape. Then go back and Peyote Stitch the loops, either inside the loop or outside, or both! Wherever you think it would look good. Add more loops connecting loops, little sticks or fringes of beads, picots, whatever. Just let your imagination run wild! If there are spots on the peyote strip that seem "blank", go ahead and add beads there too.

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