All beading graphics on this page were created by Kimberly Chapman, and are my exclusive property. Feel free to link to this page, but please do not steal the graphics and pictures. It took hours of work to make them. If I find them elsewhere on the Internet, I will consider pursuing legal charges against the site owner.

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Beading - The Square Stitch

This is a good, strong stitch, and simple to learn. It is a substitute for looms, which can be expensive. It also gives a clean edge; something I've never been able to do on a loom.

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.

This isn't a pattern of any sort, it's just some beads strung together to demonstrate building the ladder, increasing and decreasing in varying numbers. Once you learn this stitch, it's very easy, but it takes a bit of practise to learn how to hold the bits so they all go where you want them to. The tension works a bit differently than other stitches; it is important to keep it rather tight, but not so tight that it's rigid and forms a curl. If something goes wrong, take the needle off of the thread and pull off the beads back until it looks right, then start that part again.

I work best from left to right, probably because I'm right-handed and can better hold the bits that way. Thus, the piece in this example is flipped over when starting a new row. Keep in mind that doing this means you have to read your pattern backwards and forwards on alternating lines! This is why it's best to start with symmetrical patterns, because they're exactly the same on either side so you don't have to worry about getting a whole line backwards.

This is the page with reversed pictures for left-handed people. I am right handed, so I did the best I could in reversing everything to make it easier to follow. If you are right handed, you'll probably want to use the original instructions.

Square Stitch 1d

First Row

Start by tying a bead on the thread. When you're more advanced, you'll want to use a slip knot that you can undo later and weave the tail into the piece, leaving no starting mark. While you're learning, though, this is a pain in the butt because you might push beads off the end of the string. So for now, tie a triple knot to hold firmly.

Once you've got the first bead on, put the needle through it so the thread is actually going through the bead.

Square Stitch 2d

Now string the remainder of the first row. Just thread them all on; no looping required at this point.

Square Stitch 3d

Second Row

At the end of the first row, thread the first bead of the next row. Pinching the end of the first row in the fingers of your non-needle hand to keep it taut and separate, push the needle back up through the end bead of the first row. Come from the direction of the rest of the row, not from the outside edge.

Square Stitch 4d

Close the loop (or "square") by going back through the second row bead from the outside.

Square Stitch 5d

Thread the next bead of the second row. Make another "square" as before, this time going through the second-last bead of the previous row. Push the needle through from the opposite side.

Square Stitch 6d

Close this new loop by going back through the newly added bead.

Square Stitch 7d

Tug the thread tight at this point to pull it all together into a square-like form. Once you have more rows added, the beads will more easily fall into place like this. Finish the row by repeating the previous few steps.

Square Stitch 8d

Increasing and Decreasing

I haven't demonstrated decreasing with a picture, because it's as simple as not finishing a row by however many you wish to decrease. For this reason, it is preferable to decrease rather than increase. Plan your patterns to maximize decreasing and minimize increasing.

If you do need to increase, you can really only do it one bead per row. Any more than that, and it will bend and look messy.

To increase, add an extra bead at the end of the row, then go back through the last bead on the previous row, coming from the outside.

Square Stitch 9d

Loop back around to go back through the new bead.

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Page last updated December 4, 2003.

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