12 basic BEAD EMBROIDERY stitches

bead embroidery

How to do beading on fabric

Sewing beads on fabric is the ultimate in fabric embellishment. The sparkly beads bring brilliance and a dimension to the fabric which is unparalleled. Bead embroidery means stitching beads onto fabric in beautiful patterns. This embroidery with beads is done with beads of different sizes and shapes.

Fabric beading uses some simple stitches which form the basis of bead embroidery. Using these simple easy to work stitches, bead embroidery can be done by anyone who is familiar with a hand needle and thread, not to say about people who know hand embroidery stitches. I have outlined these basic stitches to do embroidery with beads.

Check out the post on the 60+ different types of beads and the 9 different ways to do bead embroidery

You can work the beads as SPOTS, with one pearl, bead, or sequin sewn on singly or as ROWS. The spots can have sequins and beads together as one unit. They can be placed in an all-over design or used singly; for example, in the center of a flower motif. Rows are used as outline designs or to fill the design.

Checkout the post on simple to stitch 9 bead border designs

You can also check out the different, very easy ways to make bead embroidery flower motifs – 10 ways.

bead embroidery flowers

If you think of beadwork as giving a very traditional look to garments you can look out for modern bead designs which have a very clean finish and is very pleasing to the eye. 

12 stitches for beads work on fabric

Some simple tips for successful bead work on fabric

  • It is better to use nylon or silk beading thread for bead embroidery. Cotton thread is prone to breakage especially when in contact with sharp edges of some beads
  • Double the thread on the needle when doing beads work for strength and durability.
  • Apply beeswax on the thread to make it stronger and less breakage prone and prevent knots
  • Use fine needles for bead embroidery. The needle should easily slip in and out of beads. Use a very fine size 28 tapestry needle or ask for beading needles
  • Choosing the colour of thread – If you cannot get the exact coloured thread as that of the beads, do not settle for too light or too dark; get thread in the colour of the fabric on which you are embroidering. You can experiment with colours if you are using transparent beads
  • Do not forget to interface the fabric back if you are doing a big design to prevent sagging
  • Maintain even tension always without pulling too tight or leave thread too loose.
  • Beads spaced too far apart, Beads bulging up because of less space, fabric puckering under the bead embroidery are some common problems which can mar beads embroidery. 

beads embroidery work

1 Beaded Back Stitch

how to bead on fabric

This is the most basic way of stitching beads on to fabric and the most commonly used. You can do this stitch with beads of any number, but the commonly used numbers are 3 and 6

How to do beaded back stitch

bead embroidery stitches

Step 1

Bring up the needle at 1 ; String 3 beads through the needle

Step 2

Insert needle at 2 at the end of the beads and come up at 3 which is one bead back from 2

Step 3

Now come back to the end of the 3 beads ( at 2) inserting the needle through the last bead.

Step 4

Now continue stringing 3 beads again . 

2 Couching Stitch

how to bead on fabric

This is my next favourite beaded stitch which is very easy to do. This involves simply placing straight stitches across stranded  beads at regular intervals ( I have done after every 3 beads). Checkout this tutorial to do Couching embroidery in 4 ways. 

3 Beaded Chain Stitch

beading work

How to do beaded chain stitch

how to do bead embroidery

Bring up the needle at 1
String 10 beads on the needle and thread. Any even number would do
Bring down the needle at 2 which is close to 1 making a loop of beads
Now bring up needle at the center of the loop on the other side , just outside / inside the loop
Make a straight stitch across the bead loop to the inside of the loop
Continue making the next loop by stringing 10 beads.

4 Beaded Tent Stitch

This stitch uses simple diagonal stitches close to each other in a row. 

how to work beads in embroidery

 5 Beaded Cross Stitch

Here cross stitch is used to fix the beads on the fabric. First you have to work tent stitch, then go back and do diagonal stitches on each bead.

One advantage of this stitch is that you can place beads upright with this stitch as the diagonal stitches anchor the beads very well. Checkout the tutorial to do Cross stitch.

6 Beaded Open Cretan Stitch

bead work embroidery stitches

This is a cretan stitch worked with single or double beads. 

7 Leaf stitch 

how to do bead embroidery

8 Beaded  Fly Stitch


bead embroidery

A U ( 1-2) is made with beads and then a straight stitch is placed at the base to anchor the loop (3 – 4)

9. Beaded extended fly stitch

sewing bead work on fabric

Here the fly stitch is extended downwards with two or more beads added. 

10 Beaded Feather Stitch

stitching beads on clothes

Feather stitch is worked with beads in between. 

sewing beads on clothes

11 Beaded Herringbone Stitch

beads embroidery work

12 Beaded laced running stitch

how to do beads work on fabric

Here an interlaced running stitch is used with beads in between the lacing. First a row or two of running stitch is done; Then another needle ( a blunt one) is used to lace this running stitch row. With every stitch a bead is inserted

13. Triads

This consists of three pearls/beads sewn together, forming a triangular shape. To make this stitch bring needle to right side and thread three pearls; return needle to wrong side at the same point. Pearls/beads will form a triangle. Lay pearls down flat and tack between

14. Halo stitch

This is made with sequins. A small curved line of sequins is formed as a frame for a group of beads

15. Loops and dangles

Edging with beads is a favourite of mine. I love the look beaded edges give to a garment, especially to shawls and scarves and bags. Edging can be done between fabric pieces as well to join them together, by creating loops and dangles or simply creating a line of bead edging. Checkout the post on edge beading and beaded tassels – 8 ways to make beautiful beading edges 

make beaded tassels

Related posts: Different types of Beadwork ; What you need to do beading : supplies and tools; How to do beadwork on a a wooden bead loom

zardosi embroidery

how to sew sequins  tibbon embroidery flowers

embroider flowers

mirror work stitches


learn how to sew

17 thoughts on “12 basic BEAD EMBROIDERY stitches”

  1. Rumaysah Abdulkabir Shittu

    I can see that this website is important and sooth my carrier and I found it interesting
    So please I want to learn more about it and other hand acquisition skills ava8

  2. Evelyn Moronkeji

    Thanks so much, the illustration was so clear,and respond you made on merge’s post is also helpful.

  3. Marge Kleifgen

    Can I use any of these bead patterns on bridal tulle? If so, are there any other special instructions to follow.

    1. Hi Mary
      Embroidering on net especially bridal tulle is so beautiful. If the beads are heavy you will need to use backing otherwise the net will tear or hang down under the weight. Usually what they do is embroider with fine thread and then embellish the inside with small to medium size beads.
      Remember you cannot leave knots as they will be visible ( you can find the correct technique to make thread knot so that it is not obvious here) You can use sequins and seed beads which weigh very less.
      Another idea is to do the work on georgette, silk etc and then applique it carefully on to the net
      Hope this sounds alright.

  4. VERY helpful and thorough guide for a beginner. I especially like the basic numbered instructions with photos. Thank you again. You’ve got me excited into spicing up lots of things!

  5. Thanks so much! This is the first and best instructional guide about beading on fabric that I have ever come across!! Very nice!

      1. I like pictures with instructions. I would like to learn to sew. My goal is to make leather crutches and clothes. I immediately would like to learn bead embroidery and other types as well.

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