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Seed bead bail

Cleverly combined Ndebele herringbone and peyote stitch create a custom beaded bail using seed beads
Seed bead bail

Fine-tune your stitching skills with herringbone increases and decreases as well as a smattering of  peyote. Together, the stitches create a framework that fans out to become a sturdy structure from which to hang your treasured art beads.


Bail 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8cm) span

  • art bead, about 1 in. (2.5cm) long
  • 2g each Japanese seed beadssize 11/0, colors A and Bsize 15/0, colors C, D and E
  • Power Pro 10 lb. test or Fireline 6 lb. test
  • beading needles, #12

Editor’s note: Longer art beads can easily be accommodated by using 11/0 seed beads throughout.

Seed bead bail figures
Seed bead bail loop


The bail is largely made up of herringbone, with a peyote inclusion at the bottom that helps it fan out to span the length of your art bead. Use tight tension, and refer to figure 1 and the color chart as you work.

1. On a 2-yd. (1.8m) length of thread, stitch a bead ladder two beads wide and four beads long, using color A 11/0 seed beads. Leave an 8-in. (20cm) tail. Sew back through the ladder to the first two beads (FIGURE 1, a–b).

2. Work a row of herringbone in As, turning around as shown (b–c).

Row 4: Work a row of herringbone in As, with a modified turn (c–d). 
Rows 5–12: Work the next eight rows as in row 4 (d–e).
Rows 13–20: Work increases in herringbone with As,  color C 15/0 seed beads, and color D 15/0 seed beads (e–f).
Rows 21–22: Work decreases in herringbone with As and Cs (f–g). 
Rows 23–30: Work in herringbone as in row 4 (g–h).
Rows 31–32: Work a row of modified herringbone using As and Ds (h–i).
Row 33–35: Work in modified herringbone (i–j).
Rows 36–43: Work in herringbone and peyote (j–k).
Rows 44–45: Complete two modified herringbone stitches on one side. Then sew through the last row of peyote to get to the other side. Complete two rows of modified herringbone (k–l).

3. Sew through the last row added, and turn as before (FIGURE 2, a–b). Pick up five As, three color B 11/0 seed beads, the art bead, three Bs, and five As. Sew through the B on the opposite side of the bail (b–c).

4. Using As, work in flat peyote for the next three stitches. Then pick up three Bs, and sew through the art bead (c–d).

5. Mirror step 5 on the other side of the art bead (d–e).

6. Reinforce these beads with a second and third thread path. Secure the thread in the bail, tying half-hitch knots between a few beads.

7. Use the tail to connect row 1 to row 29 by sewing back and forth through the beads in both rows to finish the bail (PHOTO).

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