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3 Reasons Herringbone Stitch Makes Me Happy

By Jennifer VanBenschoten


Top Recommended Resources on Bead Embroidery
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Beadwork: Herringbone Stitch - Basics and Beyond


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Best of Beadwork: 12 Flat and Tubular Herringbone Stitch Projects


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Favorite Bead Stitches 2012


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Have you ever noticed that when you work flat herringbone stitch with a set of beads going from small to large, it looks like a smile? It’s no secret that I love herringbone stitch in every variation imaginable. Herringbone stitch creates a beautiful texture from whatever beads you use, and the mechanics of the thread path itself are soothing to stitch.

 learn-how-to-herringbone-stitch
Learn an innovative variation of herringbone stitch to create a fabulous zigzag pattern.

Happy Herringbone Stitch Reason #1: Herringbone Stitch History

It’s not terribly glamorous, but the distinct herringbone pattern created by the thread path of herringbone stitch gets its name from the bones of the herring fish. (Yep, those yucky little fish drenched in cream sauce.) Thankfully, even though I’m not terribly fond of herring as a food source, herringbone stitch patterns are something that I can really sink my teeth into when it’s time to sit down and bead.

If you’re not even fond of the name herringbone stitch, you can also refer to this particular bead-weaving stitch as Ndebele, after the ethnic South African tribe who have been using this this beading stitch since the 16th century to create spectacular beaded necklaces, artifacts, and other items of self-adornment.

When I work a piece in herringbone stitch, I feel like I’m connected to these tribes and their history in some small way. It’s just another way that I use my beadweaving to feel connected to the world and maybe leave behind a small contribution of beauty through my herringbone stitch jewelry. Join artist and author Melinda Barta in watch-and-learn lessons for creating jewelry from herringbone stitch in Beadwork: Herringbone Stitch - Basics and Beyond video.

Happy Herringbone Reason #2: Tubular Herringbone Stitch

Among beaders who love to create beaded pendants, tubular herringbone stitch is a handy technique to know because it can be used to create sturdy and complementary beaded ropes to accent bead embroidered pendants. Tubular herringbone stitch is a particularly happy way for me to make beaded ropes for my beaded pendants: it works up fast, and the thread path makes the finished rope both strong and much more flexible than other beading stitches. You too can master this popular stitch and fall in love with some of Beadwork's best designs in Best of Beadwork: 12 Flat and Tubular Herringbone Stitch Projects.

Happy Herringbone Reason #3: Flat Herringbone Stitch

Flat herringbone stitch can be made to undulate and curve gracefully without any complicated increases and decreases. Using beads of different sizes in the same row will create waves and curls in your herringbone necklaces. An added benefit of shaping flat herringbone stitch this way is that it’s also a great way to practice working with tension, a skill that carries over to pretty much every other bead-weaving stitch out there. Creating shaped flat herringbone stitch without increasing and decreasing? You better believe that makes me happy!

Herringbone stitch is one of those bead-weaving stitches that can be used for just about anything, and that makes it my go-to beading stitch when I’m designing a new beading project. Are you ready to get started with herringbone stitch? Beadwork's Favorite Bead Stitches 2012 Collector's Edition is packed with pages of inspiration, photos, and step-by-step instructions to be stitching your way to beautiful beadwork masterpieces in no time!

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 Jennifer VanBenschoten

Jennifer VanBenschoten is the online editor for Beading Daily, where she gets to indulge in her lifelong passion for making jewelry with seed beads. She’s easily distracted by tiny, shiny things, and she’s made more beaded jewelry than she could ever wear in an entire lifetime. When she’s not beading, thinking about beading, or talking about beading, she’s either elbow-deep in her gardens, playing with her son, or cooking something fantastic in the kitchen.