Brick stitch is one of the most basic beading techniques one can learn, along with classics like peyote stitch and herringbone weave. It has a simple structure that can be used in many variations, and with a wide variety of bead types. What makes this stitch unique is the flexibility of its basic rules. It has a lot of potential for freeform work, because it doesn’t have to follow an exact pattern or method.
When worked plain, a panel of brick stitch looks just like peyote, but worked vertically instead of horizontally. You can even use peyote stitch patterns with brick stitch without any adaptations - just flip them to the side. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever used brick stitch in the way it was originally intended - it’s just too much fun to bend the rules.
Brick stitch is an ideal technique to use with bead soups, because there is no need for perfectly matched beads. It can easily be worked with many different bead sizes and shapes, with beautiful, organic results. For freeform enthusiasts, it is an essential stitch, because it can easily transition to peyote or right angle weave on the sides, and herringbone weave or picots on the top and bottom.
Brick Stitch Basics
Just like herringbone weave, I like to begin brick stitch with a two-bead ladder. This provides a sturdy base for your first row, and is easier to grip while stitching. First, pick up 4 beads, and slide them down the thread, leaving at least a 6 inch tail. Pass up through the first 2 beads again, and pull snug to form a pair of 2-bead columns.
Stitch down through the 3rd and 4th bead, then pick up 2 new beads. Stitch down through the last 2 beads again, and pull snug. Pass up through the 2 new beads. Pick up 2 more beads, and pass through the 2 just added, chasing your working thread.
Continue adding 2 beads at a time with ladder stitch, until you reach the desired width. Perform a step up if necessary, to bring the working thread to the top of the ladder, opposite from the tail thread.
Pick up 2 beads. Bring the needle under the first bridge thread, which passes between the top 2 beads in the ladder, closest to where your thread is exiting. Pull snug so that the beads rest side-by-side atop the beadwork.
Carefully stitch up through the second bead, keeping the needle from passing under or through any of the existing threads. When you pull the stitch snug, the beads should remain locked in place. If the second bead comes free, the threads have crossed. Pick up the stray bead and begin again.
For the remainder of the row, you will add one bead at a time. Pick up one bead, and pass through the next bridge thread in the top of the previous row. When working with a single bead size, you will only use each bridge once, placing a new bead between each pair in the row below. With multiple bead sizes and shapes, you can use the next available bridge thread, even if it has already been used. This will provide snug, even beadwork.
When you reach the end of the row, the new beads will be slightly shorter than those below. Flip the beadwork, and add the next row as before. Start with two beads, and pass under the first bridge thread from the previous row. The start of your new row will be slightly longer than the previous one. As you add new rows, the sides of your beadwork will start to resemble the edges of peyote stitch.
You can easily incorporate beads of slightly different sizes and shapes into a row. There will only be a minor change to the structure of the beadwork, because the bridge threads for the next row will remain basically the same.
Larger beads can also be added, and these will greatly alter the shape of the following rows. A combination of flat and circular brick stitch can be used to build around accent beads. You can add smaller beads around these accents during the same row, or in the next one. For either method, you’ll need to do some back weaving to bring your thread into the correct position.
Mixing up flat and circular brick stitch with an assortment of beads is a great way to experiment with both freeform and structural beadwork. By ignoring the rules and following your beader's intuition, you can create some very unique designs with interesting shapes and patterns.
Do you like to use brick stitch in your work? Do you follow the rules or make up your own?
Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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