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September 09, 2016

Tubular Herringbone Bracelets with Bead Loop Closures

I have about a bazillion projects going on at once right now, but that's no excuse for not writing about them - is it?  I'll start with the last couple of weeks and try to catch up to date over the weekend.

First, I got slightly hooked on tubular herringbone stitch for a little bit.  I've always loved the look of the stitch, but honestly had never tried it.  I don't know why, but I thought tubular herringbone would be difficult - but it isn't... at all.

Probably one of the easier stitches actually, although it takes a lot of time.  Anytime you are making a dense rope chain, that seems to be the case.  I updated the tubular herringbone stitch tutorial, so check it out if you'd like to give it a try.

A few things that I probably didn't mention in the tutorial,but learned from trial and error.

You start tubular herringbone with a ladder stitch base.  In my opinion, it was easier to start with a two row ladder stitch base rather than a single row - and I think it looked prettier too.

The top one used a two row ladder start and the bottom a single ladder stitch.  I guess the single ladder stitch blends better, but it was really hard to hold onto for the first several rows.  That one extra row made a big difference in getting things started.

One other observation, while you can use almost any type of beads for tubular herringbone, I really liked the round 11/0 Czech beads.  They resulted in a braid that was really supple and smooth.  I think they may have been more forgiving of mistakes - or I just improved a lot from my first bracelet to the second. (yes - that could be the reason!).  I think 8/0 round beads may be even better since they will stitch up much more quickly!

This is my first tubular herringbone stitch bracelet.  It's honestly a little drab in person, although the carved shell button definitely helped set it off.   Before I found that, it was headed for the UFO (Unfinished Objects) bin.

Which is another important observation. I was not at all enamoured with the tri-color bracelet above while I was making it either.  It wasn't until I added the button clasp (which the color theme was designed around) that I decided it was not just ok - but really pretty cool.

I like that it looks a little different from each side and it fits my wrist perfectly.  So my suggestion, in general, with herringbone stitch is to just keep going until your project is totally done.

Of course, now I'm going to add that you still may not love it at the end...  This is a four column tubular herringbone bracelet.  I used 11/0 Czech beads, a bead soup on hand that just happened to match the same type of glass bead that I loved in the prior bracelet.

Fundamentally, the bracelet is ok, but with only four columns instead of six, the bracelet loses the stiffness that gives it shape and ends up floppy. And the colors - eh...  It just doesn't do it for me.  Oh well, two out of three isn't bad!

A quick note about using button closures on beadwork too.  It's something else that I don't do frequently and it's worth learning how to do right (yup, that's the link to the updated tutorial).

I love the chevron and millefiori glass beads that I use for the closure so much that I've been hoarding them forever trying to figure out how to use them.  They're not the least bit expensive... and the same applies to the carved shell beads.  Both are usually on sale for around a $1 (so if you click the link and they're much more than that - check back another time!)  The bottom line, this is finally a great way to use them.

I might as well drop in one more miscellaneous item here and get it off my backlog.

When I made my butterfly fetish necklace that I used the squaw wrap closure on, I didn't bother finishing the coral and turquoise one because I wasn't happy with how it looked.

I did a minor re-work on it to add spacer beads between the tube beads and remove the central butterfly pendant.  I think there's a slight improvement, but it still isn't right with me.  I'm going to let it sit a little while longer - but I'm open to suggestions.  I'm actually thinking the butterflies need more space to breath - but I'll still let it sit a while.  I'm also thinking multi-strand may be the way to go.  We shall see...

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  1. Hello I know it might not be relevant for these jewelry making but I couldn't find any other way to contact you. I am a beginner and I don't know how to add extra nylon thread in the process. I found you on and there's a article on that subject unfortunately the pictures are no longer available so I don't understand at all please help me. Aurelie form France

    1. Yes!! That's always relevant. I've been trying to get good pictures to update that article, but they're still not ready. It would help if you tell me what stitch your using, since there are some little tricks for some of them, but the general rule is stop your thread when you have about 6 inches left (just remove the needle), add the needle to a new prepared thread (conditioned, stretched, etc). Typically, you will attach the new thread to the beadwork a few rows below the old thread by tying a half hitch knot around one of the threads between the beads and then follow the stitch path until you get to the old thread and continue beading using the new thread. At the end, you will come back and weave in the loose thread end. That's the summary version, but I'll reply again when I've updated or created a new post on the topic.