5. Marching Cubes Bracelet

Marching Cubes Bracelet
a beadwork project for beginners

by Marilyn Gardiner:

Overview: Square Stitch Project

This is a beginner’s beadwork project that introduces Square Stitch. This stitch is probably my most favourite. The beads line up in rows and columns and are suited to patterns with horizontal and vertical lines. Loomwork patterns can be easily adapted to square stitch, as can cross-stitch patterns.

Square stitch is one of the most durable stitches because the thread passes through each bead twice as it is sewn in place. Think of this stitch if you want to make a belt or a purse strap. The downside is that a project using square stitch takes a bit longer to finish.

This project uses mainly 3 mm cube beads, as well as a few size 8 beads.

I’ve used a ball and socket clasp again this time. A toggle, lobster claw or magnetic one would all work equally well.

If you want to design your own pattern, just grab some graph paper and coloured pencils and have fun. Instead of the 3 mm cubes you could try the larger 4 mm ones. Instead of seed beads you could experiment with gemstone beads—or you could just omit them altogether.

If you feel adventurous, plan a simple bracelet with size 11 Delica beads. They fit together extremely well. You could also add an edging to the bracelet… There’s never enough time for playing with beads!

In this bracelet, the cube beads are a metallic gold iris colour, and the seed beads are gold opal. An elegant combination I think!

Supplies for 8.5″ Bracelet
12 grams of 3mm Miyuki cube beads

2 grams of size 6 round seed beads

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

1 clasp

2 small jump rings (3 mm inside diameter) or split rings

Thread: Nymo D or equivalent in a colour that tones with the cube beads.

Needles: size 10

Bead Colors: I’ve used a gorgeous Miyuki cube SB3-462 called Metallic Gold Iris. The large seed beads by Miyuki are a Gold Opal colour.

Clasp: I attached a jump ring to each part of the clasp, closed it tightly, then sewed the jump ring to the middle bead at the end of the bracelet. An oval-shaped ring (rather than round) works very well too. Or you could use a split ring instead of a jump ring. (A split ring is like the rings you put your car keys on.)

Thread Color: Match your thread color to the main bead color. I used a dark brown for this one.

Needles: See the discussion in a previous project.

—————————-The Project: Marching Cubes Bracelet—————————-
1.Stitch the Beads

Getting Started

Measure off a comfortable length of thread (about 2 yds). Optional: wax it or condition with Thread Heaven™. Stretch it in sections to remove kinks. (Or run it through a curling iron!)

Thread a size 10 needle.

String one seed 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 clasp.


Row 1

String 3 cube beads. These beads will form the first row.
Add one more bead for the beginning of row 2.


Row 2 – Bead #4

Hold your work vertically, just like the diagram. Lock bead #4 in place by going through bead #3 (in the same direction as you did begore) and then down through bead #4. Arrange bead #4 so that it sits beside bead #3.

4.Row 2 – Beads 5 & 6

Add bead #5. Stitch up through bead #2 and down through bead #5. Repeat this process for bead #6, attaching it to bead #1.

Note that every bead gets attached to the bead beside it in the previous row.

Every time you complete a row, check the front and the back to make sure that the threads are pulled snugly and that there are no stray thread “bobbles” or loops of thread. You don’t want to complete several rows and then spy one of these loops! Have you heard about the “Frog Stitch”? Rippit rippit! It’s not a fun stitch…


Stabilize the Row

Stabilize this row by taking the needle up through the beads of the previous row, and then down the beads of the row just completed. Always repeat this step at the end of each row!

6.Row 3

Turn your work. The tail thread is now at the top.

Row 3 is a bit different The first bead you attach will be a cube, the second bead will be a size 6 seed bead, and the third bead will be another cube.

You have completed one pattern: two rows of cubes and one row with a seed bead in the middle. Keep repeating this pattern to the end of the bracelet. End with 2 rows of cubes.

When deciding how long to make your bracelet, allow about 1″ for the clasp.


Prepare to Attach the Clasp

After you stitch the last row and stabilize it, go through a number of beads in a zig-zag pattern to secure the thread. When you are stitching beads that fit snugly together, there is no need to knot the thread or to use glue. By stitching in a zig-zag/circular manner, in and out of beads so the thread doesn’t show, simple friction will hold the thread in place & the beadwork will never come apart.

If your thread is short, end it, and start a new long thread. Exit the middle bead of the last row.

Use two pairs of pliers to attach a jump ring (or split ring) to each part of the clasp.

Note: My chain mail projects give instructions for using pliers to open and close jump rings.


Attach the Clasp

Stitch a jump ring to the center bead of an end row. Stitch round and round, through the jump ring and through the bead, through the jump ring and through the bead. Repeat several times.

End your thread by stitching in a zig-zag pattern through several beads. I went up and down through several beads in the centre row, then came back through those same beads in the other direction. Clip your thread.

Repeat at the other end of the bracelet. Before you start to stitch, be sure the bracelet is not twisted. (Been there, done that!)

—————————-Other Square Stitch Projects—————————-

Tennis Bracelet: a beginner project using size 8 seed beads and 6 mm round crystals.

Arabian Nights Bracelet : this pattern uses 5 different sizes of beads, from small size 15 up to a 3 mm cube. This beginner-plus project uses square stitch to make an undulating tube shaped bracelet.

Triangles Pendant: a pattern using small Delicas. An intermediate project like this would introduce you to decreasing row lengths, following a pattern graph, and making a casing for a chain.

Floating Squares Pendant: Not really difficult, but this intermediate level project adds skills in embellishment to add layers.

Stairway Choker: an intermediate level project that uses seed beads. The challenge here is learning to increase and decrease in square stitch to make a choker that curves around the neck.

Art Deco Pendant: an advanced project using small Delicas and embellishment with Swarovski crystals. It features 4 layers of beading, one on top of the next, using different techniques.

I am not aware of any book devoted to just square stitch. Many of the beginner beading books that introduce a range of stitches will have a section or a project that uses square stitch. Read the table of contents for clues.

The book Creative Beadweaving by Carol Wilcox Wells has an excellent section on square stitch, both flat & tubular. It also covers increasing and decreasing. This book belongs in every beader’s library.

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