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.
- Curious about the traditional method? See the photo tutorial for traditional herringbone stitch, which does not begin with a base row.
1. Gather Your Materials
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
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
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
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
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
Continue this process to stitch pairs of beads, until you arrive back at the beginning of the first row.
6. Reposition the Thread
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.
- See an alternative technique that avoids visible thread, but slightly alters the way the outermost beads lie. You may want to use this approach instead if you're unable to find an unobtrusive thread color.
7. Stitch the First Two Beads 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
Pass up through the third bead in the second row.
9. Stitch the Next Two Beads
Pick up two more beads, and pass down through the fourth bead in the second row.