How to Hand Sew: The Beaded Back Stitch – Quilting Daily

Bead embroidery by Nancy Eha using beaded back stitch.

Hand stitching is a staple in my book. For many quilters and sewists it is, and has been, in their repertoire for years. If you’re like me, hand sewing is the first sewing technique you learned.

While chain stitch and buttonhole stitch along with other embroidery stitches are great ways to embellish fabric, bead embroidery–especially the beaded back stitch–gives hand stitching polish and sparkle.

Today we welcome the “Beading Queen” herself, Nancy Eha, sharing her technique for using beaded back stitch to create vines–perfect for your spring-inspired and floral bead embroidery projects.

The Beaded Back Stitch, A Great Way to Create Vines and Stems
By Nancy Eha

Size 11 Japanese seed beads
Silamide beading thread; use a secure knot and double thread
Size 12 sharps needle

The beaded back stitch is the perfect beading stitch to use when you want to create long, secure lines of beads on your fabric.  You can make the beaded line straight or curved.  When I want to bead a curved line using the beaded backstitch, I use a pattern which I copy to paper for foundation piecing and then pin in place on the quilt top. I bead through the fabric and the paper for foundation piecing pattern, and then tear the paper pattern off the fabric when my bead line is completed!  With my paper pattern method, you can be an accurate beader without marking on the fabric.

I work the beaded back stitch in increments of three beads.  Most beading books will instruct you to work in increments of five or six beads.  I work with three as the smaller the increment, the more control you will have over the bead line.

1. Start by passing the needle and thread to the right side of the fabric.

2. Pick up three beads on the needle and thread and let the beads fall down to the fabric.  The beads should lay flat on the fabric, touching each other with no thread visible between the beads.


3. Pass the needle and thread through the fabric to the right side of the fabric between Bead 1 and Bead 2.

4. Without the needle and thread going through the fabric, pass the needle and thread through Bead 2 and out of Bead 3.

5. Pick up the next increment of 3 beads and repeat Steps 2-4.


6. When you have completed the bead line, pass the needle and thread to the wrong side of the fabric at the edge of the last bead, and make an ending knot on the wrong side of the fabric.


Here is my video demonstrating making a vine with a pattern using the beaded back stitch:

Want to learn more from Nancy?  Be sure to check out her 4-week course Seed Bead Botany starting May 30th on Craft Online University. Watch and learn as she teaches how to make a variety of beaded flowers, leaves, grapes and even berries. Plus, if you get stuck, Nancy will be there to answer your bead embellishing questions and to give you feedback on your bead embroidered designs. Register for your seat today!

Happy stitching,

Brenna's Signature

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