Thursday, February 5, 2015

Beading Tutorial: Valentine Heart Potawatomi Chains

It’s always exciting when we discover a pattern hidden within our favorite beading techniques – such as daisies in peyote stitch, or chevrons in herringbone weave. Like a sculptor bringing the statue out of marble, sometimes all we have to do is sit back and let the beads do their magic. One of my favorite pattern discoveries is the shape of tiny hearts within connected lengths of Potawatomi daisy chain. By adding short diagonal rows of color into the beadwork and then doubling up, a row of pretty hearts will emerge.

Valentine Heart Pattern Potawatomi Cuff


If you’re not already familiar with the Potawatomi chain technique, I highly recommended using it a few times with daisy or vertical stripe patterns to get a feel for the stitch. Once you’re comfortable with the motion of the thread path, it becomes much easier to implement the somewhat lengthy heart pattern. It can be worked with most seed bead sizes, and you’ll need at least two colors to create the pattern. I’ve used red and white here for the full effect, but any palette will look great!

How to Weave Valentine Heart Patterned Potawatomi Chain

On a comfortable length of beading thread, pick up 3 white beads and 2 red. Leaving about a 6 inch tail, stitch up through the 1st white bead picked up and pull snug to form a teardrop shaped cluster.

*Pick up 1 white and 1 red bead. Making sure that the tail thread is facing to the left, stitch down through the 1st red bead added in the previous step, and pull snug.

Valentine Potawatomi Chain Tutorial


Pick up 2 white and 1 red bead, and stitch up through the red bead added in the previous step.

Pick up 2 red beads, and stitch down through the 2nd white bead added in the previous step.

Heart Shaped Potawatomi Chain Stitch


Pick up 3 white beads, and stitch up through the 2nd red bead added in the previous step.

**Pick up 1 red and 1 white bead, and stitch down through the 2nd white bead added in the previous step.

How to Weave Potawatomi Chain with Hearts


Pick up 1 white and 2 red beads, and stitch up through the white bead added in the previous step.

Repeat from * until the chain reaches the desired length, and finish with the 1 red and 1 white bead stitch (**) to complete the pattern.

Starting a New Potawatomi Heart


Next you will stitch a new chain onto the first, sharing the raised beads at the edge. This will be similar to adding a second row of beadwork to right angle weave or particularly St. Petersburg chain; however, you will stitch from the end of the finished chain, rather than the start, to work a mirror image of the pattern.

Heart Shaped Potawatomi Chain Side One


Cut a new length of beading thread, and pick up 5 white seed beads. Stitch up through the first bead again, and pull snug, leaving a 6 inch tail.

Turn the original chain so that the diagonal rows are pointing to the left, as shown.

~Pass through the nearest red bead in the side of the chain and pull snug.

Valentine Potawatomi Chain Side Two


Pick up 1 red bead, and stitch down through the 4th white beaded in the starting cluster. Pull snug to form the base of the new chain.

Pick up 1 white and 2 red beads. Stitch up through the red bead added in the previous step, and through the nearest red bead in the side of the original chain.


Pick up 1 red bead, and stitch down through the 1st red bead added in the previous step.

Pick up 2 white and 1 red bead. Stitch up through the red bead just added, and the nearest white bead in the original chain.


Pick up 1 white bead, and stitch down through the 2nd white bead added in the previous step.

Pick up 3 white beads, and stitch up through the white bead just added. Repeat from ~ to complete the chain.


Once you’re familiar with the technique, you’ll be able to see where your next stitch should go without thinking about it. Although in Potawatomi chain the beads are added in clusters, the chain forms a visible pattern of vertical rows with 2 and 3 beads each. The pattern for adding new beads also repeats. When adding 3 beads you will stitch up through the topmost bead of a vertical 2-bead row. When adding 2 beads (or 1 in the second chain) you will stitch down through what will be the lower bead in a new 2-bead row.

Valentine Heart Potawatomi Chain Stitch


After you’ve mastered the stitch, you only need to remember the color sequence to get the pattern to emerge. For quick reference the pattern for chain 1 goes: AB, AAB, BB, AAA, BA, ABB. The chain 2 pattern follows: B, ABB, B, AAB, A, AAA

Adding additional chains is easy – just repeat the pattern, making sure to share beads from the previous chain.

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