Learn Brick Stitch
If you’ve just landed here, this free blog is part of my brick stitch series. You can learn brick stitch in all its forms in handy bite-sized lessons. So, this lesson will just cover the basic brick stitch technique.
You will work brick stitch off a row of beads. If you’re not even sure what the technique is, take a look at this page (it opens in a new tab so you won’t lose your place here). In a nutshell, brick stitch looks like rows of bricks on a building. You join the beads using the threads from your previous row. So, although you will pass through the new bead you add, you won’t actually pass through any existing beads from your work.
You can work brick stitch from the flat edge of Peyote stitch. Or, from the flat edge of square stitch. So, there may be patterns that use that idea.
If you are starting brick stitch from scratch, then you need to set up your base row(s) to begin. I have covered that technique in this blog. So, if you need to start, pop over and read that blog first, then come back here to learn brick stitch. The blog will open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place here.
Learn Brick Stitch
Right, now grab some beads and thread and get ready to begin.
Start by setting up your first row – or two rows. You can use ladder stitch or my cunning Peyote method for this. Both are outlined in this blog.
You should now be exiting from the final bead in your strip (indicated by the red arrow in the diagram below).
Pick up 2 beads. Pass your needle under the exposed thread that is joining the bead you are exiting to its neighbour in your base row. Then, pass back up through the second bead. When I say ‘pass back up’, I mean, you need to enter this bead from the same side that your thread is exiting it.
Ease your beads into place so they are sitting side by side on top of your base row. The first bead will overhang the edge, as you see in the diagram.
Now, pick up 1 bead, pass under the next exposed thread on top of your base row. Then, pass back up through the new bead. Again, make sure you enter the bead from the same side that you exited. Ease the bead into position so it sits flat on top of your work. I have shown how this action will look in a photo and also the bead placement and thread path in the diagram below.
You might also want to note how I hold my work. As you learn brick stitch, this will really help. I hold the beadwork in my non-dominant hand, so that I am looking along the line of exposed threads. I can easily work back and forth along this line. So, I don’t need to keep turning my work around. I can literally follow the pattern, working one row from left to right and the next row from right to left.
Keep repeating step 3 until you reach the end of your row. So, in my little example, the row has a total of five beads. The final bead will end up indented from the end, as you see in the diagram below.
Go back to step 2 and follow that to start the next row. Note: this row will work back the other way – you can see the start of it in the diagram below. So, this is important to remember as you follow any brick stitch pattern.
That’s it! You have now learned basic brick stitch. So, let me give you some simple pointers to remember. Then I want to show you some of the most common mistakes and how to fix them.
Simple rules to remember as you learn brick stitch
If you remember these two simple rules as you learn brick stitch, you won’t go far wrong!
Rule number 1
Start every row by picking up TWO beads. Then, for the rest of the row, just add 1 bead in each stitch.
Why is this important?
Well, this rule is all about disguising your thread. If you add just one bead at the start of a row, then you will end up with an exposed thread sitting around the side of the bead. Take a look at the diagram below.
Focus on the red arrow. This would be the thread with which you started. As you complete the stitch, it will end up sitting on the edge of your bead. So, it looks untidy. If you had picked up two beads, then that thread would be sitting inside the first bead. Compare this diagram with the diagram in step 2 to see what I mean.
Rule Number 2
Remember to pass BACK UP through your bead after you have hooked your thread under.
There isn’t really a lot more to say about this, but it does bring me neatly to those common mistakes…
Most common mistakes as you learn brick stitch
The mistake I see people make most often is to try and pass through their bead in the wrong direction. You see, as you are hooking under your thread, your new bead is not going to be sitting neatly in position like my diagrams.
So, you might get a little too enthusiastic and just focus on passing through the bead without looking at which side you enter it.
Take a look at the diagram below. In this illustration, I have picked up my bead and hooked under the thread (red arrows). Then, I’ve followed the green arrows as I pass back through the bead. So, I’ve forgotten to look and see where my thread is exiting the bead. Instead, I’ve ended up passing in from the other side. So, when I pull the thread, the bead is going sit out of alignment, as you see in the photo.
If you spot this mistake in your beadwork, you need to go back to the bead that is sitting wrong. So, if you have continued your row, you may need to remove some beads. (Remember to remove your needle and un-do your work by easing each individual bead up and away).
When you reach the problem bead, just pull it out and add it again.
The second most common mistake
Then (and this is a favourite mistake that I still make), I see this happen… In order to avoid passing through the bead in the wrong direction, you can slide the bead down into position as soon as you have hooked under the thread. Then, it’s easy to see which way to pass UP through it.
The problem with this is you can also accidentally slide your needle back under the thread. So, as you pass back up through the bead, it just jumps off. You’ve ‘unanchored’ (I’m sure that’s not a word, but it should be!) your bead, so you are basically just removing it from your thread!
Obviously, the way to fix this is to just add the bead again. So, it’s not a big deal – just something to watch out for. On balance, it’s much easier to correct this mistake than to have to keep fixing the first mistake. So, if it helps you to settle you bead in place before you pass back through it, then please do that.
Projects to try
Right, so now you have the skills, it’s time to practice them. These two patterns are both great projects to try.
The leopard print bracelet is a straightforward strip of brick stitch. You get to follow a simple pattern and this can be quite quick to make. So, if this sounds like a good idea, click here for your copy of the pattern.
Then, the daisy bracelet uses brick stitch for the main bracelet. I added a custom clasp using Peyote stitch. But if you don’t know that technique, it’s not a problem. You can substitute the daisy clasp with any normal clasp of your choice. So, this is another simple pattern to let you practise.
Well, your journey to learn brick stitch can continue from here. You are now ready to learn how to shape your flat brick stitch. Or maybe you want to learn how to increase so you can try some curves and circles? Perhaps tubes will be the next step for you. Check out this link to get all the other brick stitch lessons.
If you’re reading this blog as I first post it, then I have more lessons to come. So, just use the form in the right-hand sidebar on this website to sign up to receive all my posts via email. That way, you won’t miss a thing. Or, remember to check back later for more brick stitch lessons!
You can download this free tutorial if you want a PDF to print out and keep, covering the information in this blog.
Please also share this with your beading friends. And don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can return to it whenever you need a refresher.