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Herringbone Stitch Beading From a Base Row

How to Do the Easier Version of Flat Ndbele Stitch

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Herringbone stitch (also called "Ndebele stitch," after the African tribe who specialize in it), creates beautiful beadwork where the beads lie at herringbone-like angles to one another. There are two approaches for beginning the flat version of this stitch. The traditional approach is more complicated, especially when you're trying to follow a pattern.

An easier method, and the one covered in this tutorial, begins with a base row of beads that are stitched with ladder stitch.

1. Gather Your Materials

Flat herringbone stitch beadwork
A swatch of flat herringbone stitch beadwork.

To do herringbone stitch, you'll need your basic set of essential beadweaving supplies. I'm using a size 11/0 beading needle, size D nylon beading thread (Nymo brand), and two colors of size 11/0 round seed beads. (The alternating colors make it easier to see eash stitch.)

Be aware that with this approach to herringbone stitch, some thread will be visible along the sides of the beadwork. It's a good idea to select a thread color that matches or compliments your beads.

Please click on any image in this tutorial for a full-size view.

2. Use Ladder Stitch for the First Row

A row of ladder stitch
A row of ladder stitch.

Begin by cutting at least a few feet of beading thread and threading your needle for single-strand beadweaving. Because my thread is nylon, I also pre-stretched it and coated it with thread conditioner (Thread Heaven).

Related video: How to Prepare Nylon Beading Thread

String and secure a stop bead, or attach a Bead Stopper, at least six inches from the end of the thread. (This thread tail can be much shorter if you're just making a practice swatch.)

Pour your beads into small piles on your beading mat (or into a beading dish).

Use single-needle ladder stitch to create the first row. Do not weave back through the row to reinforce it.

3. Make the First Stitch of Herringbone

The first pair of beads in the second row
The first pair of beads in the second row stitched on.

Make sure that your thread exits the last bead in an upward direction (turn the first row over, if necessary). Pick up two beads; these will be the last two beads in the second row of your pattern.

Pass down through the second from last bead in the first row, and pull the thread taut.

Pass up through the third from last bead in the first row, and pull the thread taut again. Tap the beads with your finger to push them into proper alignment (see the photo on the left), as necessary.

4. Make the Second Herringbone Stitch

The second pair of beads in the second row
The second pair of beads in the second row stitched on.

From this point on, gently tug the thread taut after making each pass with the needle.

Pick up another pair of beads, and then pass down through the fourth from last bead in the first row.

Position the thread for the next pair of beads by passing up through the fifth from last bead in the first row.

5. Keep Stitching Back to the Beginning of the Row

The second row completed
The second row completed.

Continue this process to stitch pairs of beads, until you arrive back at the beginning of the first row.

6. Reposition the Thread

Bringing the thread into position for the next row
Bringing the thread into position for the next row.

Position the thread to begin the third row by passing up through the first bead in the second row (which is actually the last bead that you stitched in that row). This leaves a bit of thread showing along the side of the beadwork, which is why you should carefully select thread color with this version of herringbone stitch.

7. Stitch the First Two Beads in the Third Row

The first two bead in the third row
The first two bead in the third row.

Pick up a pair of beads, and pass down through the second bead in the second row.

8. Position the Thread for the Next Pair of Beads

The thread positioned for the next pair of beads
The thread positioned for the next pair of beads.

Pass up through the third bead in the second row.

9. Stitch the Next Two Beads

The next two beads stitched
The next two beads stitched.

Pick up two more beads, and pass down through the fourth bead in the second row.

10. Complete the Row

The third row of herringbone stitch completed
The third row of herringbone stitch completed.

Continue this process to stitch pairs of beads until you reach the end of the row.

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