Brick stitch, a popular technique in Indigenous beadwork, creates beautiful and intricate designs. It’s named for its brick-like pattern and is an excellent method for making a variety of jewellery such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. As a new Indigenous post-secondary student interested in your cultural heritage, learning brick stitching can be an enriching and rewarding experience. Here’s a beginner’s guide to mastering this technique.

Understanding the Significance of Beadwork

Beadwork holds a significant place in Indigenous cultures across Turtle Island. It serves as a form of artistic expression, storytelling, and a connection to Indigenous heritage. Brick stitch, with its versatility and adaptability, is often used to create intricate patterns and designs that reflect cultural themes and personal creativity.

Gathering Materials

To start brick stitching, you will need beads, a needle, beading thread, and a bead loom or other anchor points. The beads commonly used are seed beads, available in a variety of colours and sizes. Choose colours that reflect the design you want to create. The thread should be sturdy and fine enough to go through the beads multiple times.

Learning the Basic Technique

Brick stitch begins with a foundation row of beads, typically using the ladder stitch. Thread your needle, add two beads, and go back through the first bead. Then, go back through the second bead in the same direction, pulling your thread tight. This creates a “ladder” of beads, which will serve as the base of your brick stitch project.

For the brick stitch itself, you will start the second row by adding two beads. Pass your needle under the thread between the first and second beads of the first row, then back up through the second bead you just added. For the rest of the row, add one bead at a time, passing under the thread between the beads of the previous row, and back up through the bead you just added.

Creating Designs

Once you’ve mastered the basic technique, you can start creating designs. Plan your pattern beforehand, choosing which colours of beads go where. For symmetrical designs, it can be helpful to start in the middle and work your way outwards. With brick stitch, you can easily create shapes, like triangles or diamonds, by increasing or decreasing the number of beads in each row.

Mastering Increasing and Decreasing

To increase in brick stitch, simply add two beads instead of one at the beginning of a row. To decrease, skip adding a bead at the end of a row, and pass your needle through the second-to-last bead to start the next row. This technique allows you to create various shapes in your designs.

Finishing Your Work

When you have completed your pattern, secure your thread by weaving it back through your beadwork, changing direction several times to ensure it’s tight. Finally, trim the excess thread.


Like any craft, brick stitch beadwork requires practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts aren’t perfect. As you continue practicing, your speed, precision, and ability to create complex designs will improve.

Learning brick stitch is a hands-on way to engage with Indigenous culture, create beautiful works of art, and even make gifts for friends and family. Mastering this technique can provide a grounding hobby amidst your studies, a chance to express your creativity, and a meaningful connection to your cultural heritage.

Chelsea Reid Headshot

Paige Hill

Mentorship Advocate, Indspire

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