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Tubular Herringbone Stitch Necklace Pattern

Make an Intricate Beaded Rope With Ndebele Stitch

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This pattern uses tubular herringbone stitch (also called ndebele stitch) to make an intricate looking beadwoven rope. Even though it has some interesting texture, it doesn't require any increases, decreases, or special twists. You can use this pattern for a necklace, as shown, or make it shorter for a bracelet.

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

1. Gather Your Materials

A completed choker made with the tubular herringbone stitch pattern
A completed choker made with the tubular herringbone stitch pattern.

For this pattern, you'll need some Delica cylinder beads, round seed beads, silk cording, and basic beadweaving supplies. To save space in this tutorial, I've listed the beads and supplies on a separate page.

2. Stitch the Initial Round of Ladder Stitch

The first round of beadwork
The first round of beadwork (ladder stitch) around the silk cording.

Cut, condition, and stretch a little more than an arms span of beading thread. Thread the needle for single-strand beadweaving. Pour small piles of each bead color and size onto your bead mat or into a beading dish.

If you're new to tubular herringbone stitch, take a moment to read through our photo tutorial. You'll learn that tubular herringbone begins with an initial round of ladder stitch.

Begin this initial round by ladder stitching 8A, leaving a six-to-eight inch tail at the end of the thread. Wrap that row of beads around the silk cording, about an inch from one end of the cording. Make sure that the short thread tail faces that end of the cording. Then stitch up through the first A, down through the last A, and up through the first A again to create the initial ring of beads.

3. Begin Stitching Beads With Herringbone Stitch

Four total rounds completed
Four total rounds completed, the first with ladder stitch and the rest with herringbone stitch.

Stitch three more rounds of tubular herringbone stitch around the silk cording. Keep the thread tension tight so that the beads snug up against the cording. Remember to step up by passing through two beads, instead of one, at the end of each round. Stitch slowly to avoid knots or tangles in the thread.

Tip: Be very careful not to split the beading thread. This can happen if your needle snags the thread as you sew down to complete a stitch. Split thread causes the two beads in your stitch to become misaligned, which can give your beaded rope an uneven surface.

4. Complete the First Motif in the Pattern

One motif in the pattern
One motif in the pattern.

In beading, a motif is a series of colors and shapes that are repeated throughout a design to create a pattern. Complete the first motif in this pattern by stitching the following rounds of tubular herringbone stitch, using the beads indicated by their bead key letters. Each round contains a total of eight beads.

  • Round 5: 8B
  • Round 6: 8C
  • Round 7: 8B
  • Round 8: 8E
  • Round 9: 8D
  • Round 10: 8D
  • Round 11: 8E
  • Round 12: 8F
  • Round 13: 8E
  • Round 14: 8D
  • Round 15: 8D
  • Round 16: 8E
  • Round 17: 8B
  • Round 18: 8C
  • Round 19: 8B
  • Round 20: 2A, 2D, 2A, 2D
  • Round 21: 2A, 2D, 2A, 2D
  • Round 22: 8B
  • Round 23: 8C
  • Round 24: 8B
  • Round 25: 8A
  • Round 26: 8A
  • Round 27: 8A
  • Round 28: 8A

Pause occasionally to untwist and straighten the silk cord as needed. Stitch the size 8/0 beads the exact same way you stitch the smaller beads.

5. Repeat Motifs to Your Desired Length

The motif repeated
The motif repeated.

Repeat the motif until you have your desired length of beaded rope. When you get to the point where you only have about six to eight inches of working thread left, begin a new thread. End the rope with at least two rounds of Delicas.

6. Reinforce the Last Round and Weave-In

Example thread path for weaving-in the thread
Example thread path for weaving-in the thread before trimming it off close to the beadwork.

Reinforce the very last round of beads by stitching up and down through them one more time (see Step 15 of the flat herringbone stitch tutorial).

Weave-in and trim off all of the thread tails. To weave-in, stitch down within a column, reverse direction and stitch up through the next column, reverse direction again, and so on. (Click to enlarge the image on the left to see an example thread path in red.) Optionally, make half-hitch knots over existing thread between the size 8/0 and size 11/0 turquoise beads.

7. Trim the Silk Cord

Scissors being used to trim one end of the silk cording.
Scissors being used to trim one end of the silk cording.

Use sharp household scissors to trim the silk cording very close to the beadwork. Take care not to cut through any of the stitches of beading thread.

8. Even Up the Ends

The ends of the silk cording flush with the ends of the beadwork
The ends of the silk cording flush with the ends of the beadwork.

Bend the beaded rope back and forth (like a snake) and, if necessary, use your fingernail or a beading awl to push the ends of the silk cording into the ends of the beadwork, so that they are flush with the beadwork or tucked just inside. You're now ready to add a clasp.

  • For help with this or another beading tutorial, please stop by the Beadwork forum and post your questions or comments.
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