Freeform Beading: Tutorial


Freeform beaded purse by Carla Barrett

Freeform beaded purse by Carla Barrett

Freeform Work in progress by Carla Barrett

Freeform Work in progress by Carla Barrett


Since I’m still in a beading mood, I decided to share with you one of my favorite tutorials- Freeform Beading, which features the freeform peyote stitch. It is very easy to do, and extremely versatile. You may combine it with quilting and fiber art- like I have shown in my iPhone purse, shown above.  You may also create  freeform beading as a focal jewelry piece.  Recently, I started the freeform beaded piece shown on the left, which will eventually be a necklace.  Please note it is still a work in progress.

Below is a bridal necklace I made a few years ago:

Here is another work-in-progress:

Here is the final necklace once the strap was added:

wavesffHow did I do this?  It was actually pretty easy, so I thought I would share the how-to with you.  I often will just start beading, then change and keep adding on and working the piece.  However, in working with beginning students, I have found the following method works as a good starting point to learn this technique.

Supply List:

Fireline, Beading needles, beads in various shapes, sizes, finishes and colors to match your palette.

To Begin: collect beads in various sizes and colors that blend well together.  Pick a focal piece or pieces as well to give your piece visual interest.  Below, I have created a bead soup palette that I used for the Waves of Color necklace, shown above:


To begin, take a 2 yard piece of FIRELINE (a braided beading thread by The Beadsmith) and string about a 5-6 inch base row of various beads, taking care to mix sizes and colors:

Next, build off of your first row using any stitch you have learned.  In the example below, I used peyote stitch and ladder stitch:

Here is a tutorial for how to do a Ladder Stitch (click to enlarge):

And here is a tutorial for how to do peyote stitch, even count:

Get creative!  Just keep building and beading until it starts to flow for you.  I still have a way to go, but here is another work-in-progress, followed by the finished piece:

freeform beaded necklace by Carla Barrett

freeform beaded necklace by Carla Barrett

As you can see by the bottom photo, I felt the first draft was rather boring and needed a bit of bling.  That is the beauty of freeform, if you do not like something, just keep going!  In this case, I added a tubular Right Angle Weave (RAW) strap and a beaded bezel for the crystal focal point.  The end result was much more successful.

Here is another small freeform quilted bag in a different colorway:

If anyone tries this mini tutorial, please send me a picture of your finished project. I would love to see your work!

Back to quilting now…   Hugs, Carla