4. Color Blocks Cuff Bracelet

Colour Blocks Cuff Bracelet
a beadwork project for beginners 

by Marilyn Gardiner:

Overview: Peyote Stitch Project

This is a beginner’s beadwork project that introduces Peyote Stitch. In some online discussion groups I’ve occasionally seen comments about the difficulty of peyote stitch—and they are all wrong. It is so easy to get started making projects with this favourite stitch.

One secret to success is to use large, tube-shaped, cylinder beads for your first project (i.e. size 8 Delicas). The second secret is knowing your learning style. If you have no problem following written instructions, then continue on. If you need someone to show you, either take a class with a recommended instructor, or grab a friend who knows this stitch and sit together to make this project.

Peyote stitch is also known as gourd stitch, and there is some controversy over correct naming. Both brick stitch and peyote stitch were/are extensively used by Native American beaders. This is an interesting topic for further research and reading. Beadwork found in King Tut’s tomb appears to have used a technique that may be what we call peyote stitch today. As well, 17th century English beadwork baskets used peyote stitch.

Just like the previous project, this one uses large Delica beads, partly because they are easier for beginners, and partly because they are especially suitable for this bracelet.

The clasp this time will be a button and a loop. I’ve selected this clasp because I want the bracelet to be like a cuff, with the ends touching. It’s also another technique for your repertoire.


Left: Garnet Gold Luster & Silver-Lined Gold large Delicas.
Right: Metallic Dark Blue Iris & Silver-Lined Crystal large Delicas

Supplies for 8.5″ Bracelet
10.5 grams of size 8 large Delica beads for the
Main colour (MC)

5.5 grams of size 8 large Delica beads for the
Contrast colour (CC)

1.4 grams of size 11 Delica Beads in the MC for the edging and the clasp loop

These quantities will make a bracelet more than 8.5″ long.

Either the cylinder-shaped Delicas or round-shaped seed beads will work for this bracelet, but you will find the Delicas easier to work with if this is your first attempt at Peyote stitch.

1 special button that tones with the colours used
Tip: Choose the button after you complete the beadwork.

Thread: Nymo D or equivalent

Needles: size 10 & size 12

Bead Colors: I’ve made this bracelet in various color combinations. The colors can be contrasting; or one can be gold or silver to complement your preference for metal earrings; or, for a subtle look, the two colors can be identical, but one with a shiny finish and the other a matte finish. 

Clasp: The button and loop closure is a useful one to learn. The button for this one should not be the focus of attention because of the blocks of colour. Choose one that blends with either of the two colours. The size can be small or large, but don’t have it larger than the bracelet width. If you made the bracelet even wider, you could experiment with a 2-button closure and smaller buttons. There are some exquisite buttons out there to choose from: vintage ones, glass ones, and even Swarovski buttons.

Thread Color: Match your thread color to the main bead color. Watch your bead choices: if the MC is black, and the thread is black, then a pale-coloured, transparent bead in the color blocks may not appear as you hoped. Opaque beads would be a safer choice.

Needles: See the discussion in the previous project.

Peyote Stitch: Even Count & Odd CountThis stitch is called even-count peyote stitch because you start with an even number of beads. This project starts with 6 beads, and results in 6 offset colums of beads. This means that there is no center column as you would get if you had started with an odd number of beads. This odd/even issue makes a difference when you are designing a pattern and want a center point in the design. 

Yes, there is an odd-count peyote stitch. It’s a bit trickier when you need to turn at the end of every second row. An excellent means of avoiding this turn is to use two needle—easier than it sounds. You use one needle to go across the row and back again; then you “park” that needle (by sticking it into your bead mat), and pick up the other needle to go across the row and back again. Repeat, repeat, repeat!


There is free, or inepensive, blank peyote graph paper you can print out and use for experimenting with your own designs.There are several available at Bead-Patterns.com, some for round seed beads, and some for the cylinder-shaped Delicas. All you need are colored pencils or markers.

There are also software programs so that you can design on the computer—you place beads on grids made for different stitches and different sizes of beads.

A pattern of diagonal stripes with large Delicas: Metallic dark blue iris, Sparkling blue lined crystal, and S/l crystal. Metallic blue Swarovski button featured.
—————————-The Project: Colour Blocks Cuff Bracelet——————–
1.Stitch the Beads 

Getting Started

Measure off a comfortable length of thread (about 1.5 yds). Optional: wax it or condition with Thread Heaven™. Stretch it in sections to remove kinks.

Thread a size 10 needle.

String one small Delica bead and sew through this bead one more time. This is the tension bead that will hold the next beads in place. It will be removed later. Slide it down the thread so there is a tail of about 12 inches. This thread will be used later to sew on the button.


Rows 1 & 2

String 6 large Delicas in the main colour (MC). These beads will form the first two rows. (Every other bead is going to drop down a bit to form row 1.)


Row 3

To start the third row, string one MC bead, #7, and pass the needle through bead #5.

String a MC bead, #8, and pass the needle through bead #3.

String a MC bead, #9, and go through bead #1.

(Notice the sequence—you are going through every second bead!)

You have completed the first three rows!

Tip: if you have trouble holding your work and manipulating the needle through the correct bead, try stitching with the beadwork laying flat on your bead mat as you work. This may make things less awkward for the first few rows—just until you have enough beadwork to hold onto.

4.Count the Rows 

Tighten up your thread and manipulate the beads, especially the end pair, so they look like the “caterpillar” in the diagram.

Notice the three offset rows:
Row 1 has three beads labelled with a “1”.
Row 2 has three beads labelled with a “2”
Row 3 has three beads labelled with a “3”.

Each row has only three beads! Notice the three “high” beads sticking upward in row 3.


Row 4

To begin a new row, turn your work around so you are working from right to left.

To start row 4, string a MC bead #10, and go through the last bead of the previous row, (#9).

Add another MC bead, #11, and go through the next “high” bead.

Add another MC bead, #12, and go through the last “high” bead.

Tighten up the thread.

6.The Pattern and the Rest of the Rows 

The pattern:

**Row 5: 2 MC, AC (Accent Colour)
Row 6: MC, AC, MC
Rows 7 to 10: MC, 2 AC
Row 11: MC, AC, MC
Row 12: 2 MC, AC
Row 13 to 16: 3 MC**

Repeat rows 5 to 16 (the pattern) until the bracelet is the correct length. You want the two ends of the beading to meet (not too tight, and not too loose…).

The length of the bracelet will be determined by the size of your wrist. An average length is 7.25 inches. If possible, end the bracelet after a complete pattern.

Remove the tension bead.

Tip: If you need to make the bracelet just a little bit longer, add another row in MC at the end. Then go to the beginning and use the tail thread to add another row there. Surprise! You can easily add rows to the beginning row!

For even-numbered rows, read the pattern from right to left.
For odd-numbered rows, read the pattern from left to right.

Why? Because you stitch across a row in one direction, then turn and go back the other way for the next row.


Fill in the Ends

After you stitch the last row, go through a number of beads in a zig-zag pattern to secure the thread. If your thread is short, end it, and start a new long thread. Exit the end bead shown in the diagram.

Add 2 small Delicas, go through the “high” bead, and continue across the end, using 2 small beads to fill in the spaces and create an even edge.


Add the Edging

The thread should be coming out of the end bead. Add 3 small Delicas and sew into the second bead along the edge. Then sew back out through the third edge bead.

Add 3 more Delicas, sew into the fourth bead and back out the fifth.

Repeat this edging down the side of the bracelet. When you get to the other end, fill in the spaces just as you did in the previous step.

Now work along the other bracelet edge with the 3-bead picot edging.

9.Sew on the Button 

Thread a needle on the tail thread at the beginning of the bracelet. The goal is to have the two ends of the bracelet meet, but not overlap, when the bracelet is fastened.

The button is going to be centerd between the two “X” beads. Stitch through beads until the thread exits the ouside edge of a bead marked with “X”. Needle through the button shank as in the smaller diagram to the right.

Pass the needle through the 2 beads marked with an “X” and then back through the button shank. Repeat several times to secure the button. To end the thread, sew through a number of beads in a zig-zag or circular path and then clip the thread close to the last bead. The goal is to use friction to keep the thread-end securely in place. (See last month’s project for details on ending a thread.)


10.Add a Loop for the Button 

Go to the other end of the bracelet (on the same side as the button). Start a new thread.

The button loop will be stitched between the two beads marked with X’s in Diagram 13. Stitch through beads until the thread exits the ouside edge of a bead marked with “X”.

Add approximately 22 small beads and pass the needle through the outside of the second “X” bead to create a loop. Look at the smaller diagram on the right.

When you have the correct number of beads your button will pass through the loop. Keeping the thread tension tight, test the loop size with your button. The loop should not be too tight or too loose. You may have to unpick your thread and add or remove some beads to make the loop fit just right. Keep an even number of beads.

Sew back through bead #1 and do one row of peyote stitch around the beads in the loop:
Pick up a bead, skip a bead, go through the third bead;
pick up a bead, skip a bead, go through the fifth bead
etc., etc. (Review the diagrams for Row 3.)

End the thread. The bracelet is ready to wear.



Southwest Charm: a pattern using small Delicas. A project like this would introduce you to using smaller beads and trying a more complex pattern.

Moroccan Delight Pendant: Not really difficult, but this project adds skills in embellishment, making a casing for a chain, and adding luscious fringe.

An excellent book devoted to peyote stitch is called Beading With Peyote Stitch, by Jeannette Cook and Vicki Star, from Interweave Press.

Valerie Hector’s book, The Art of Beadwork, is filled with historical beadwork information and photos, and numerous, enticing modern day projects. Delightful!

Copyright 2006 Marilyn Gardiner.
All Rights Reserved.
Used with permission by the Beading Times.