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Beading - The Tubular Brick Stitch

This lesson will assume you are comfortable with the brick stitch. As with the pictures for the brick stitch, I don't usually use black thread; that's just for contrast. I've drawn blue arrows to indicate the direction of the thread and/or needle, and sometimes the thread loops offscreen, so just imagine it via these arrows.

Tubular patterns look diagonal because the piece works that way, as you'll see when you do it. This example is not from a pattern, but rather just yellow and green beads to illustrate.

You'll need something to do the tube beading around, even if the support is something you plan to remove later. This is too difficult and fiddly to do without a support. The support can be your finger if that's the right size, but be prepared to stick/scrape yourself with the needle fairly often. You'll also need to start with a ladder long enough to wrap around wherever you're starting on the support. This may take some adjusting to pick the width of beads to get the best fit, if you plan to leave the beads around the support, such as an ornament. It's better to have small gaps between beads than to have them bunched up, so don't make your ladder too long.

For this example, I'm using a pen as the support, but you can wrap beads around glass, boxes, and many other things.

If you are left handed and find these pictures hard to follow, please see the reversed photo instructions.

Tubular Brick Stitch 1d

Put the ladder around the support. Be sure to arrange it so it is not twisted at any point; this will be very difficult for long strings, and you may wish to temporarily tape or pin it to the support.

Depending on whether you have an even or odd number of beads in your ladder, the thread will be pointing up or down when you wrap it around the support. It doesn't matter which way it is pointing except to ensure that when you connect the ends of the ladder that you're forming an untwisted loop. So if the thread is going up as in the picture, you want to thread down through the FIRST bead of the ladder. If the thread is going down, go up through the first bead.

Tubular Brick Stitch 2d

Now close the loop between the ends of the ladder by going back through the LAST bead in the opposite direction. In the picture, since I went down through the yellow bead, I'm going up through the end green bead.

Tubular Brick Stitch 3d

You're going to need that thread to go down so you can start the next row, plus it would help to toughen up this loop that holds the ends of the ladder together. So continue the loop around back through the first bead in the same direction as before. In the picture, I'm going back down through the yellow bead.

I've left it loose as a visual aid, but as you do this loop, pull the whole thing snug. If there is too large a gap, pull the thread out of this loop and put on another bead. If the row won't sit flush to the support because there are too many beads, go back and remove one.

Tubular Brick Stitch 4d

Once you've got that loop snug, thread another bead. You're now going to stitch beads on just as you would a regular brick stitch, going through the thread loop between the beads above. I've found that because I hold the tubular stuff upside down relative to how I hold flat brick stuff, it's easier to put the needle down through the loop instead of up through it. It really doesn't matter which way you go through, as long as you're making a new loop to interlock with the loop from the previous row.

As you add these first few beads on the second row, take care to keep the first row snug. The act of stitching will likely pull that first row loose, so you may have some fiddly thread work to do to keep it all nice and neat.

Tubular Brick Stitch 5d

Go back down through the bead you just added, just like the regular brick stitch.

Tubular Brick Stitch 6d

Continue to add beads along, just like with regular brick stitch.

If your support changes shape, such as a curved ornament, you may need to increase or decrease the number of beads in the row. Unless following a pattern, I just do this by eye; if the support is getting wider, as the beads on the new row start to get further from the loop they're supposed to be attached to, I just add another bead by going through one loop twice. If the support is getting smaller, I will skip a loop where the beads are passing them. Depending on how gradual the size change is, I will add/skip several times per row, trying to spread out the additions/skips. There is a picture example of adding a bead during the lesson on circular brick stitch.

Tubular Brick Stitch 7d

When you get to the end of a row, push the needle up through the first bead of the row to close the loop.

Tubular Brick Stitch 8d

Then go back down the second bead of that row to bring the thread into the ready position for the next row. This is why tubular patterns are diagonal; at each row, you're shifting to the side by a bead.

Continue this stitch as needed for the entire project, and finish as usual.

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Page last updated December 4, 2003.

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