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Winter birds ornament

winter birds ornament

For this project, I set out to design a different kind of beaded ornament with peyote-stitched panels to depict scenes. Four panels seemed logical until I measured the ornament and did the math. It takes 132 Japanese cylinder beads to go around the ornament slightly above the widest circumference. Since I prefer to do even-count flat peyote stitch, six panels were the answer.

To achieve a tapestry effect, I graphed the panels with pointed bottoms and accented each point with a beaded tassel. Birds are a favorite subject of mine because they are a bright spot of color and movement during the bleak winter months.

There are also practical advantages to this design with a netted top and an open bottom – if the ornament breaks, you simply drape the beading over another ornament.

Cardinal pattern
Chickadee pattern
  •  Japanese cylinder beads in the following colors and quantities:
    • 1g Black (#010)
    • 2g Dyed Opalescent cranberry (#654)
    • 1g Opalescent light red (#791) 
    • 2g Matte metallic teal iris (#327) 
    • 2g Dyed matte opalescent olive (#797) 
    • 6g White pearl (#201) 
    • 1g Dyed matte opalescent sienna (#794) 
    • 1g Opalescent chocolate (#734) 
    • 11g Matte opalescent light sapphire (#760) 
    • 5g Bright metal gold (#411) 
    • 1g Ceylon beige (#205) 
    • 12 beads, Opalescent yellow (#160) 
    • 6 3mm Gold round beads
    • 6 4mm Blue bicone or round beads
  • 48 6mm White or clear frosted bicone beads
  • 144 Gold 11/0 seed beads
  • 2 Tubes white size #2 or #3 bugle beads
  • 1 Bobbin Nymo B, ash colored
  • Bobbin Nymo B, white
  • 1 Glass Christmas ornament, 2 1/4 in. (5.7cm) diameter
  • Thread Heaven or beeswax
  • Beading needles, #12


Figure 1

1. To prepare your thread, condition it with beeswax or Thread Heaven and pre-stretch it by pulling it taut several times to reduce its elasticity and the twist in the fibers.

2. Start your thread with a 2-bead tension set. Sew through two beads and back through the first bead toward the tail, leaving a 6-in. tail (FIGURE 1).

3. To start each panel, string 22 blue beads for the first two rows and wrap the tail around your pinkie to adjust the tension on the first few rows as you stitch.

4. Keep the tail side of the panel to your right as you stitch. The side of the panel that is toward you when the tail is to the right is the front of the panel.

5. To keep track of which row you are stitching, use a sticky note to mark the beads on the row. Place the edge of the note just under the top row of beads and mark short lines below each bead in the row. For the ornament panels, you should have 11 lines. Move the note down along the pattern and position the lines to indicate each new row.

figure 2

1. Measure 10 ft. (3m) of ash-colored Nymo to start a panel and prepare as described in step 1 above. String 22 blue beads, and using even-count flat peyote stitch (How-Tos), weave a cardinal panel until you reach the row before the first decrease for the tapered point.

2. You will need to reposition your thread before stitching a decrease row so that thread will not show. At the end of the row, stitch through the bead directly below the last bead sewn through, pointing toward the panel (FIGURE 2a). Pull the thread completely through the bead and to the front of the panel.

3. Sew between the last bead on the next-to-last row and the last bead added, passing under the thread that connects them (FIGURE 2b). Tug gently to reposition the thread and sew back through the last bead added. Now stitch the first decrease row.

4. Repeat steps 2-3 at the end of every row in the point. After you add the last bead, sew back up into the panel in a zigzag path to secure the thread and trim it close to the beads.

5. Stitch 3 cardinal panels and 3 chickadee panels.


1. Start with 4 ft. (1.2m) of conditioned white Nymo. Position a stop bead, leaving a 6-in. (15cm) tail. String beads as in FIGURE 3 (see the PDF for reference). Skip the last gold bead and sew back through all the beads. 

2. Skip the top gold bead and sew back through 2 white and 1 gold cylinder bead. String another fringe beginning the pattern at the second pair of white cylinder beads. Skip the end gold bead and sew back through all the beads, including the 3 at the top of the first fringe. 

3. Repeat step 2 twice. Set the 4-fringe tassel aside without knotting the threads.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 eleven times to create a total of 12 tassels. 

5. Remove the stop beads from 2 tassels. Sew the 4 thread tails (2 from each tassel) through a 4mm blue bicone bead and a 3mm round gold bead. 

6. Divide the threads into two groups of 2 threads. Pass 2 threads through the point bead on a panel in one direction and the other 2 threads through the point bead in the opposite direction. Pull the threads to snug the tassel up to the panel.

7. One by one, thread a tail end to a needle and sew into the beads on the panel in a zigzag path. Trim the tails close to the beads. 

8. Repeat steps 5-7, attaching a double tassel to each of the five remaining panels.

FIND MORE: beads , peyote , home decor , holiday

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