In order for beaded jewelry to look really nice, it needs to involve some pattern making. First you need to come up with some sort of pattern and then you can string your beads. A pattern will give symmetry and be interesting to those who admire it. Without a pattern the piece will look off and messy. People are attracted to those things that have a repetition or symmetrical design, and if you are just beginning, starting with a pattern makes it easier to create unique and beautiful pieces.
Types of Beadwork
There are a lot of different types of beadwork stitches and there are more being invented all the time. Some of the standard beading stitches are:
- Peyote Stitch
- Netting Stitch
- Brick Stitch
- Hexagon Stitch
- Herringbone Stitch
- Ladder Stitch
- Loom Weave Stitch
- Square Stitch
Those are the standards that you will see mentioned over and over in bead working patterns for jewelry. Most of them do have their own variations. With the peyote stitch it can be even count, odd count, flat, tubular, 2 drop and more. So, you can see there are a lot of different stitches to choose from. People are always discovering old stitches that were forgotten in time or they come up with new and unique variations on standard stitches.
There is no one beading standard and bead workers don’t always use the same type of stitches in their designs. Sometimes, in one single piece of jewelry, numerous different stitches can be used in the pattern.
How to Make Your Own Bead Pattern
Making your own pattern can be as simple as adding one special bead after X many beads. If you are making a long tubular peyote necklace, you can add a contrasting bead after X amount of stitches. So, let’s say it takes 9 beads to make a complete circle in your tubular peyote bead work. Make the 2nd bead in every 10th row a certain contrasting bead. This will develop a really cool effect after many rows. Or, you can rotate where in the row you put the bead for more of a spiral effect. You can put this contrasting bead in every row, but in the first row you make it the 2nd bead, the next row it is the 3rd bead and the next row it is the 4th bead. It will look like that bead is spiraling around the necklace. You can make that contrasting bead smaller than the rest for an indented look or your can make it much larger to make it appear that there is something wrapped around the main strand of beads. The pattern that it develops is what will attract a person to the design.
There are many programs you can buy for your computer to play around with writing patterns for jewelry. They have their upside and their downside. Basically the pattern is drawn on a graph and then that graph is repeated over and over again. It makes it easier when the software does most of the thinking for you and the math. The mathematics gets fairly complex when you have to figure out how many of each size of each bead are in an inch, how wide and long you want the bracelet and where the pattern is going to start and end in its repetition. It all gets too overwhelming so software makes the task a lot easier.
Beading Software Programs
There are a few software programs will help you design your beaded jewelry and make your own patterns. Google it and give it a try!
Different Types of Beads
There are many types of beads used in jewelry making. There are seed beads, pony beads, pave beads, crystal beads, ceramic beads, wood beads, gemstone beads and just about anything else you could think up. There are so many different sizes, colors, styles, shapes and materials to choose from. Really, for most bead workers beads become an addiction. There are so many beautiful beads that you just absolutely have to have. And then another and another and another. Before you know it, there are boxes and boxes of beads in your house.
For making jewelry there are a few of different main beads. There are the seed beads, pony beads, cabochon and then everything else.
Pony beads are large plastic beads that kids use to make cute little necklaces and bracelets for themselves. They are known as practice beads and you don’t make fine jewelry with them. They come in a lot of bright colors and their sizes are very large in comparison to beads you use for making very nice jewelry for adults. You do need to have some of these beads around because they are great to use for practicing new techniques and stitches. Their size makes it far easier to understand the new stitch and to see the pattern that it makes.
Seed Beads are the little tiny glass beads and they come in a couple of main types. There are the Miyuki Delica seed beads and the Czech seed beads. Both of the beads are made of glass and have fun and beautiful finishes, but there is a huge difference in the quality and the price of the beads. The Miyuki brand is quite expensive but their beads are consistent in size and color. The Czech beads are considered more average or discount type of glass beads and they are not very consistent in the size of the bead or the quality. Obviously, the finer the beaded jewelry piece, the more likely it was made with Miyuki Delica beads.
There are other brands of seed beads, but generally these are the top and the bottom of the market outside of the craft store. The craft store beads are usually of such poor quality that they are best used on projects for practice.
Bead Style and Color Choices
There are a lot of difference types of styles of seed beads for making jewelry. Some are round, some are hexagonal and have flat sides, some are oval and some are more donut shaped.
After size, you have a tremendous amount of choices in bead finishes. To start with, the beads can be translucent or opaque. After that they can have a shiny finish or a matte finish. There are thousands of colors to choose from and additionally there are various rainbow effects or color flecks in them. Of course there are also metallic finishes. You can get a seed bead that is thick and round and is yellow with a matte finish but also has tiny red flecks in the finish. You can mix those beads with beads that are made with a finish of 23K gold. There are so many choices and when it comes to designing your jewelry, coming up with a pattern is the least of your tasks.
Where to Get Free Patterns
There are a lot of websites that have tutorials and free patterns for making beaded jewelry. Some of the patterns are not that attractive but allow you to practice certain types of stitches. Once you have a lot of practice then you can try the more advanced jewelry pieces.
Here is a jewelry designer that makes gorgeous beaded jewelry and patterns. Her specialty is beaded crochet and she makes incredibly beautiful necklaces and bracelets. The only problem is that she is French, so all of her instructions and patterns are in French. You can use Google to translate her website and that helps a lot. The patterns are made on a graph, so you probably won’t have much trouble understanding that.
You can also mix it up a bit and try to figure out the Spanish on this tutorial on beaded fringe. She has all the basic fringe stitches represented on the page and there are tutorials to help you learn how to do the stitches.
Not all fun, beautiful designs are created in Europe. Here is a beginner’s tutorial on making a sunburst with a brick stitch. It is really quite pretty, especially the color choices for the piece. And it is in English! Yay!
The very best place to search for beading tutorials is on Pinterest. Pinterest just lends itself to pretty designs and creations, a lot more so than a regular search engine. The search engines bring up the same old tired, plain and boring designs over and over again. But jewelry designers love to show off their beaded jewelry designs on their Pinterest account. People who make jewelry will happily share unique and beautiful designs they find on the Internet and post them to their Pinterest account.
Becoming a Bead Jewelry Designer and Pattern Making
If you have the program CAD then you can become an expert at pattern making in no time for unique jewelry pieces. It is difficult to learn all by yourself and you are going to need bead working tutorials and new ideas on jewelry design, so classes are a big help in learning. If you enjoy making your own gifts, there is also a class for making fun and personal Christmas gifts that you might enjoy.