Beadwork: Weaving v. Stitching

Off-loom weaving, woven beadwork, hand-stitched beadwork, hand-woven, peyote stitch, brick stitch…

There are a lot of ways to talk about and to create beautiful beadwork textiles that are used to make wearable accessories, adorn clothing and decor, and to simply exist on their own as individual works of art.

But not all beadwork is created using the same tools and the results are v different. Some are made on a loom to create, quite literally, woven strips of beadwork. Some are woven by hand without a loom but create the exact same woven construction as a piece made with a loom. Either way, woven beadwork creates rows of beads. Below is an example of a loom and what the woven beadwork looks like from a Purl Soho kit. BTW, is this kit not dreamy?


And then there’s hand-stitched beadwork, which is often referred to Peyote Stitch or Brick Stitch and is created using beads, a needle, and beading thread. Each bead is sewn one by one to create an alternating pattern, hence Brick Stitch.

Here’s an example of some pieces I’ve made with Brick Stitch.

Below you’ll see a sneak peek from some downloads I’m working on (left photo) to illustrate hand-stitched beadwork, and on the right, a closer look at loom beadwork.

The most meaningful differences I’ve found:

  • The possible color-work patterns and shapes vary because of the way the beads fit together differently.

  • Hand-stitched beadwork allows for more freeform work and lends itself nicely to bead sculpture.

  • Bead weaving is FASTER omg so much faster.

Both techniques are super cool but people usually tend to gravitate to one or the other. Kind of like knitting v. crochet. So which do you like best? Why? Comment below and also share your favorite kits and tutorials!