Beading on Needlepoint Canvas

At its simplest, beading is done just like a tent stitch. has a little video explaining how it's done.  Once you try it, though, you'll soon see that although it is easy, there are plenty of tricks to make it look better and there are a lot of other ways to bead that work for special circumstances.  These are listed below.  

Here's another video about tent stitching your beads.  You can see that these will be a bit wonky but if you do a straight line of beads, they hold each other in position better, particularly if you do 2-3 rows of beads. has an introduction to beading on their website with recommended tools and a short video that shows how to attach beads with a cross stitch.   They've added a secnd video that attaches beads with a tent stitch.  They also have an online class about beading. just added another video describing brick stitch beading.  Brick stitch with a bead added works well for larger areas on your canvas.  Note that the beads won't completely cover the canvas so using a thread that matches the bead's color or the color of the background paint will help hide that fact.


The first bead technique I learned (from SharonG) is to lasso my beads.  Here's a video.


My favorite beading technique is basketweave beading, described below.

"Don Beading"

Don Lynch’s “basketweave beading” technique (also known as Don Beading) gives your beads a woven look. This is easier than you would think—you work up and down diagonal rows as if you were doing basketweave, but the beads are attached with cross stitches. However, the cross stitch on the “up” rows is created differently than the cross stitch on the “down” rows. This creates the woven look.

Use hex beads to get the full effect.  Make sure that your beads are all the same size.  11/0 or 14/0 beads work best on 18 count.  Also, don't use this in a large area.  The more beads you add, the more difficult it is for them to stay in position.  If you work this in an area more than two inches square, you may start to loose the woven look because the beads wiggle out of place.

In the diagram the Up rows’ cross stitches are created by following the numbering system next to the up arrow. The Down rows are created by following the numbering system next to the down arrow. In the example above, you can see the hole in the middle of the red "bead" is oriented differently than the holes in the blue "beads."  If this is too confusing you can just tent stitch the beads into position but this is a lovely technique I urge you to master.

If you'd like to see how Don explains this technique, check out the Associated Talents' website.  There are many free Associate Talents stitch guides there that use this.  This is just one.


After I wrote the above, I decided to collect all sorts of beading tips for needlepointers here.  If you are overwhelmed, start with Robin King's beading tutorials.  She covers everything from the type of thread to use to the size needle to how to keep your bead from wiggling by the use of a pin stitch.  What's a pin stitch?  Not to worry—Robin Explains All with lots of diagrams.

Robin goes on to explain brick stitch beading.

Robin's final article on beading talks about messy beading, lasso beading, rows of beads and fringe, plus piggy backing beads to create dots.

Robin also added an article on Beaded Pattern Couching later on.


Louise's Needlework just wrote up a nice tutorial with great diagrams and photos about basketweave beading.

Louise's Needlework explains the differences in bead sizes.

Louise's also has a great follow-up article on beading thread types and beading needle sizes.

Louise's also has an explanation of backstitch beading, which is perfect for curved lines and lettering.

Louise's just added a tutorial on beaded fringe.

Louise's Needle discusses bead finishes with tips on shading with beads.


BeStitched has released a series of videos about beading needlepoint canvases.  This one explains attaching beads using a tent stitch.  Lisa also explains how you can use a doubled strand of thread to lasso the beads so they don't wiggle.

Brick stitch beading is nicely explained by this BeStitched/Needlepoint Flix video.

This video explains a bead lock which is a way of going through your bead twice before you start attaching it to the canvas so the bead doesn't come loose from the thread.  I think you come up from the back of your canvas first, then do the bead lock, and continue beading as usual.

The next video demonstrates using beads and stem stitch to create decorative effects.

Another video covers using Alternating Continental stitch to create a glass-like effect with a lot of light play.

The next used beads to create a Rhodes stitch.


Here's Ruth Schmuff's take on messy beading.

Ruth has a video on brick stitch beading which is very helpful for visual learners.

Ruth also did a video on doing solid rows of beads.


Mary Legallet of Whimsical Stitch has two interesting beading diagrams.
She does solid rows of beading with a reverse tent stitch and then goes all the way through each row after finishing it.

She has a nice clear chart showing brick stitch beading, too.


Bead Bra:  Melissa at the Wool and the Floss demonstrates how to lasso your beads so that they stay in position on your canvas in this short Instagram video.  

Sue stitched three identical charted designs with sunflowers, then used three different techniques to bead the centers.  She has diagrams for each technique, too!  She did messy beading two different ways, then tackled Don Lynch's basketweave beading technique.

If you want a beaded edge for an ornament, Pamela makes it sound easy.

Here are more beading tutorials and hints.

Do your beads look wrong?  Here's how to fix beading issues.

Meredith has some suggestions for beading successfully.

Size Chart for All Types of Beads

Bead sizes for needlepoint canvas

Another Size Chart for All Types of Beads 
(print out at 100% for the actual size)

General Guide to Beads, Beading Needles and Tools
I never realized the beading needle sizes were coordinated to the size of the beads until I read this.  (By the way, the bead sizing chart that reads "15 (degree)" means 15/0 or 15°.

How to Replace One Bead Easily

Mary Corbet has collected a list of links to thread-bead or bead brands conversion charts.

Sundance Needlepoint has a very inspirational book about using beads in stitches on needlepoint canvas.  It also has the basics of beading.  It's called Sundance Beads for Needlepoint - How to and Why Knot.

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