Brick stitch increasing and decreasing technique
Once you have understood the basics of brick stitch, you are ready to learn about brick stitch increasing and decreasing within a row.
This will take a flat, straight strip of brick stitch into a curved shape. It is easy to do, but takes a bit of concentration. So, I will be offering you a really handy tip to help.
Before I get onto that, let me just clarify… If you have a flat piece of brick stitch that simply has longer and shorter rows, then take a look at this blog. That covers the technique for brick stitch increasing and decreasing at the beginning and end of a row. That technique keeps your rows straight, so there is no curving involved!
How to make a brick stitch increase
The brick stitch increase is made in a single row, simply by adding two beads in one stitch.
In general, brick stitch involves adding a single bead over the top of each single piece of exposed thread. (If you need a reminder of basic brick stitch, take a look at this blog).
So, if you want to increase, you need to add TWO beads over the top of ONE piece of exposed thread. How would you do that? Well, let me explain…
Brick stitch increasing technique
Add your first bead as normal (right-hand red bead). Then, when you go to add the second bead (left-hand red bead), begin with the usual technique. So pick up the bead, but then hook your needle under the SAME piece of thread as you hooked under for the last stitch. Then, pass back up through the bead you are adding and pull it into place.
On the next stitch (blue bead with the arrow coming out) take care. Your increase bead will probably be sitting slightly across the area on top of the next thread. So, as you add your new bead, make sure you hook under the next thread, not the one after!
You will need to really manipulate the beadwork into a curve to make your beads sit flat. Otherwise the increase bead has a tendency to ‘pop out’ from the other beads.
In the next row, you will just add a single bead over each thread as normal… Unless this row also has increases!
Top tip for avoiding mistakes
My top tip for avoiding mistakes in brick stitch increasing is very simple… Count out the total number of beads you need for the row, before you start beading.
Then if something has gone wrong with your increase you will immediately see. If you have beads left over (or run out) at the end of the row, this will let you know you made a mistake.
How to spot a mistake in brick stitch increasing
The two most common mistakes are:
- failing to add the increase bead to the same thread as the previous bead
- missing the next thread when you add the next bead
So, if you have made a mistake, check these two problems first!
When you spot the mistake, you will need to undo your work back to the spot where your brick stitch increasing went wrong. Then carefully correct it. Remember, when you are un-doing brick stitch, remove your needle and un-do your work by carefully lifting up one bead at a time and easing the thread out before removing the bead.
How to make a brick stitch decrease
The brick stitch decrease is effectively the opposite of an increase, but it is also a lot easier to see.
So, when you add the decrease bead, you will just miss out a thread and hook under the next thread. Allow a bit of slack when you pull the bead into place – it will end up with a tiny bit of gapping because it is sitting across two spaces instead of one.
Then, continue to bead the rest of the row as normal.
Again, take care as you add the next bead. It will be tempting to add it to the same thread that you have just used. The next thread along may look as though it is too far along.
However, if you do add the next bead to the same thread as the decrease bead, you will have effectively ‘undone’ the decrease… So, instead of an empty thread, you will have an empty thread followed by a thread with two beads attached!
Top tip for avoiding mistakes
Once again, it will help if you count out the beads for the row so you are sure that they all fit when you reach the end.
Again, the most common mistake is getting confused about which thread you have used. So, if something has gone wrong, go back and check that you genuinely have an empty thread and a single bead attached over each of the other threads.
Other Useful Stuff
Brick stitch increasing is most often used when you are working in circular brick stitch. So, you will be working with a natural curve in place. This really helps to get the increase right first time… In fact, your work will be demanding that you make an increase!
If you increase in a tube, this will allow it to start forming a conical shape. Then if you decrease, you can reduce the cone. So, using a formula of increasing for a few rows, then decreasing for a few rows can make a brick stitch beaded bead.
A brick stitch increase pattern to try
If you want to start putting this into practise, you can try this bracelet pattern right now. It uses the brick stitch increase to create the circles that then guide the bracelet shape.
This brick stitch strawberry is a fun project if you want to try your decreasing technique. You can get a copy of the pattern at this link. These little strawberries measure less than an inch, so they make lovely little earrings or a charm bracelet!
If you would like a PDF version of this blog that you can print out and keep, follow this link. Please also share this with your beading friends if you found it helpful.
Then, you can also use this link to find a complete set of bite-size brick stitch lessons to try for free.
And, if you’re wondering about the chocolate chip cookies I featured higher up in this post, they come from the book, Sweet Treats. So, that is another opportunity to put your brick stitch increase skills to good use!