Herringbone Stitch Beading From a Base Row

Easy Start Flat Herringbone (Ndebele) Tutorial

Herringbone stitch also called Ndebele stitch after the African tribe who specialize in it, creates beautiful beadwork where the beads lie at slight angles to one another. The finished beadwork resembles the herringbone cloth pattern, which is no doubt where the name comes from.

There are two approaches for beginning the flat version of this stitch. The traditional herringbone stitch start is slightly more complicated because it starts out as a single strand of beads and is not pulled into the...MORE herringbone weaved shape until the completion of the fourth row.  This can make it especially difficult when you are 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

  • 01 of 15

    Flat Herringbone Stitch Tutorial

    Flat herringbone stitch tutorial
    A colorful swatch of flat herringbone stitch beadwork. .Chris Franchetti Michaels

    To do herringbone stitch, you will need your basic set of essential bead weaving supplies.

    For me, that is a size 11 Tulip beading needle, size D Nymo nylon beading thread, and two colors of size 11 round seed beads. Learning this stitch with two alternating colors make it easier to see each 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...MORE beads.  For that reason, Nymo is a great choice since it comes in many colors.

    Buy Nymo beading thread at Amazon.com

  • 02 of 15

    Use Ladder Stitch for the First Row

    Ladder Stitch Start Herringbone Tutorial
    A row of ladder stitch. Chris Franchetti Michaels

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

    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 a ladder...MORE stitch to create the first row. Do not weave back through the row to reinforce it.

  • 03 of 15

    Make the First Stitch of Herringbone

    Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    The first pair of beads in the second row stitched on. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    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.

  • 04 of 15

    Make the Second Herringbone Stitch

    Herringbone Stitch Instructions
    The second pair of beads in the second row stitched on. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Keep Stitching Back to the Beginning of the Row

    Herringbone Stitch Instructions
    The second row of completed herringbone stitch. Chris Franchetti Michaels

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

  • 06 of 15

    Reposition the Thread for a New Row

    Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    Bringing the thread into position for the next row. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    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.

  • 07 of 15

    Stitch the First Two Beads in the Third Row

    Herringbone Bead Weave Tutorial
    The first two bead in the third row. Chris Franchetti Michaels

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

  • 08 of 15

    Position the Thread for the Next Pair of Beads

    Herringone Stitch Tutorial
    The thread positioned for the next pair of beads. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Pass up through the third bead in the second row.

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Stitch the Next Two Beads

    Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    The next two beads are added with herringbone stitch. Chris Franchetti Michaels

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

  • 10 of 15

    Stitch Pairs to Complete the Row

    Flat Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    The third row of herringbone stitch completed. Chris Franchetti Michaels

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

  • 11 of 15

    Reposition the Thread to Start the Next Row

    Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    The thread repositioned for the fourth row. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Reposition the thread (like you did in Step 6) by passing up through the last bead in the third row.

  • 12 of 15

    Stitch a Pair of Beads to Start the Next Row

    Flat Herringbone or Ndebele Stitch Tutorial
    Stitching the first pair of beads in the next row. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Begin the row by stitching another pair of beads. In the upper photo on the left, I'm passing through two beads at a time for efficiency; even though the needle looks like it's going sideways, it's having the same effect as passing down through the second from the last bead in the third row and up through the third from last bead at the same time.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Stitch the Row and Reposition the Thread

    Herringbone Stitch Tutorial
    The row completed and the thread repositioned. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Stitch back to the other edge of the beadwork, and reposition the thread to start the next row.

  • 14 of 15

    Continue Herringbone Stitch to the Desired Length

    Herringbone Stitch tutorial
    A swatch of completed herringbone stitch. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Keep stitching one row at a time, back and forth, to your desired length of beaded band. In the example, I just made a little square swatch of beadwork for demonstration purposes.

  • 15 of 15

    Reinforce the Last Row

    Flat Herringbone or Ndebele Weave Tutorial
    Thread path for reinforcing the last row of herringbone stitch. Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Reinforce the very last row by stitching back through all of the pairs of beads again. The suggested thread path for reinforcing the row is shown in dark gray.

    Edited By Lisa Yang