Starting Brick Stitch: Two Techniques to Try

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The more you get to know about beading, the more you will realise something: the technique for starting a stitch is often different to the ‘main’ technique. Starting brick stitch is a particularly good illustration of this idea.

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I know of two different methods for starting brick stitch (there may be more). So, I’m going to show you both of them, then explain why I have a preference.

The Difficulty with starting brick stitch

Like many bead-weaving techniques, Brick stitch can feel tricky to start. I find it is inevitably worse with smaller beads.

So, as you try these two starting techniques, please help yourself by using larger beads! If you’re not sure which beads to use, I offered some advice in my first brick stitch blog, here. I suggest, as a beginner, that you use either size 10 Delicas, or size 8 seed beads. You could even try this with Double Delicas (size 8) or size 6 seed beads.

Brick stitch always begins with a single straight row – a line – of beads. In the chart below, the first row would be the straight line of white beads that sits along the bottom. (You can also work from the top downwards, but that feels ‘strange’ to me).

Then, you build the fabric, row by row, on top of that. It is literally like building a house with bricks. So, you might want to keep that analogy in mind.

Starting brick stitch, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

The trouble is, this single row (line) of beads can be tricky to hold and can get a little unruly if you’re not careful. So, that is one of the reasons I prefer the second start method.

Let me first show you the most common technique for starting brick stitch…

Option 1: The Ladder Stitch Start

This technique creates literally just the first row of your brick stitch pattern. So, you are going to add beads one by one, using a thread path that will let them sit side by side with the holes at the top and bottom.

Pick up 2 beads. Pass through them both again, then arrange them so they are sitting side by side. Take a look at the top section of the diagram below. In this illustration, you are exiting from the bottom of your second bead – the red arrow.

Starting brick stitch, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

Pick up a new bead. You will pass down through the bead from which you started and up through your new bead. Again, snuggle the beads into position so they are sitting next to one another.

You are ready to pick up your next bead. This time, because you are exiting from the top of your string, when you have the new bead on your thread, you will attach it by passing up through the previous bead. So, you are in effect working in a figure of eight path.

Keep adding beads this way until you have the number that you need for the bottom row of your Brick stitch pattern. If you are working from a coloured pattern, then you will need to make sure you add the coloured beads in the right order. In the pattern sample above, the first row of beads are all white. But they could include a mix of colours.

Fixing Mistakes

The most common error with this method of starting brick stitch is forgetting to pass through your new bead again. So, I see a lot of people get their new bead into position, then forget to continue on through it.

So, just watch that you are exiting from the bead on the very end of your row before you try to add a new bead.

The Difficulty with the Ladder Stitch Start

With your first row in place, you are now ready to begin working in Brick stitch. If you’re learning brick stitch for the first time, I will cover the technique in my next blog. For now, I just want to point out a big problem…

With the single ladder stitch row, you may notice that the beads want to twist themselves over. So, they don’t remain sitting in position as they are in the diagram. If they flip around, then it can be tricky to make sure you are always hooking under the thread that should be sitting on top of the row.

So, if the beads ‘flip’ you may find the bottom thread appears to be the next exposed thread. However, if you accidentally use this, you will end up with a twisted row at the base.

Option 2: An alternative start

I want to show you an alternative start. Using this technique, you actually bead the first two rows of your Brick stitch all at once.

Now, if you know your techniques well, then you should recognise that this is in fact just using Peyote stitch. However, do not let that confuse you – if you are new to all this beading, just follow the instructions outlined.

Start by picking up 3 beads. Leave a longish tail thread so you can hold onto it, then pass back through the first bead. Make sure you pass into this bead from the opposite side to your tail thread – see the diagram below.

Pull your working and tail threads tight. They should both be exiting at the same point now and, by pulling both, you should snuggle your beads into position so they look like the diagram.

Starting brick stitch, Katie Dean, My World of Beads
Pick up 1 more bead (number 4) and pass back through your previous bead (number 3). Pick up a fifth bead and pass back through the bead you just added (bead 4).

Keep repeating this sequence, so add a new bead and pass back through the last added bead, until you have added all the beads you need for your first two rows. See the thread path in the diagram below.

Starting brick stitch, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

Practise to learn…

Start by practising this technique with some beads in a single colour. This will help you to become familiar with the technique.

When you have mastered that, see if you can use it to add the first two rows of the chart above. You may want to print out a copy of the chart and write the numbers on it so you know which order to add your beads.

I always hold my beads in vertical alignment as I use this technique for starting brick stitch. But, of course, if you refer back to the diagram, you will need to view your beads in horizontal alignment. So, you might want to turn your work around as you add your beads so you can see which order you need.

Or, if you want to cheat, I can help you with my ‘next steps’… But before you get there, let me explain…

Why I prefer Option 2 for starting brick stitch

If you go on to add the brick stitch rows, you will find that this way of starting brick stitch has given you a much firmer base. You have more beads to hold and your string won’t twist around.

I have just one recommendation. Before you start to add row 3, pause and stitch in your tail thread. This will anchor the first few beads.

If you leave the tail thread, when you come back to hook under the loops at the end, you will find they lift up! And if you don’t understand what I mean by that, don’t worry… All will become clear when you go on to learn the main technique for brick stitch.

Next steps

Please bookmark this page so you can return to it later on if you need to. If you would like a PDF to print out, follow this link. It will take you to a free download which includes all this information, plus some additional help with the pattern chart above.

And of course, if you found this helpful, please share it with all your beading friends! Look out for the next post, in which I will show you the basic brick stitch technique.

You can also use the form in the right-hand bar to sign up to receive new posts by email. That way, you won’t miss a thing!

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3 Responses

  1. Gloria says:

    Thanks I’ll try this but my dilemma is adding it to a peyote pattern to lengthen it.
    Still looks complicated to me on how to get started.

    • beadflowers says:

      Gloria, if you have the Peyote strip, then you don’t need this part. Just go straight on to the blog for the brick stitch technique (the link I emailed to you). Get your Peyote strip in position so that you are looking along the edge where you need to add the brick stitch row. Then follow the brick stitch technique to add that single row.

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