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Flat Circular Brick Stitch
Samples Part III

July 2005
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Brick Stitch is a very old beading stitch.  It is a relative to peyote stitch.  Both brick stitch samplers can be made using peyote stitch if the patterns are worked vertically instead of horizontally. Native Americans have used brick stitch for many years.  The Comanches used brick stitch extensively, as well as peyote (gourd) stitch for decoration of bags, cradles and other items.  Some Iroquois wrist and hair bands were worked in bead stitches that kept each row of beads offset much like brick stitch and perhaps was a precursor to the stitch.  The Totadaho Belt (wampum), dated late 1750’s is probably worked in long strips of bugles and then stitched together, making an offset appearance that looks like brick stitch.  Old, brick stitch beadwork has been found in Guatemala worked in antique beads size 22/0 or smaller.  The originators are unknown.  Beadwork from Africa and the Middle East also include brick stitch techniques.  In reviewing quill work and basketry created by Native Americans, the cross sections of various reeds in basketry and quills placed in decorative pieces both naturally appear offset like brick stitch beading.  The motifs easily work from one medium to another.  Perhaps as the use of beads evolved, the same appearance was desired that follows in the other crafts. 

Brick Stitch is also known as Comanche Weave and Comanche Stitch.  I originally thought flat circular brickstitch was a fairly new stitch of the last 12 years, however, in Diane Fitzgerald's book, Beading with Brick Stitch, there is a photo on page 17 of a Kuba Hat from Zaire, West Africa.  The knobs on the hat are covered with beading that appears to be Flat circular brick stitch.  Diane indicates hats like these are in university collections, which means this technique is much older than I originally thought.  It may be that flat circular brick stitch was introduced to the USA more recently than other areas of the world.   Many well known beaders travel to various areas of the world searching for beadwork techniques.  These instructors teach beading classes across the USA and the technique gains popularity as more people learn to make this stitch.   Most beaders are more familiar with brick stitch worked in diamond shapes and rectangular shapes than flat circular brick stitch.  Carol Wilcox Wells,  David Chatt and NanC Meinhardt use flat circular brick stitch in their work and teach this stitch in classes.

Barbara Grainger, my partner in beadwork history and bead stitch detective, spent a great amount of time researching this stitch over the internet and through her personal library.  Her help and support were significant in finalizing these instructions and information.

Stitch Notes
You can make flat circular brick stitch with a 1-bead, 3-bead , 4-bead or 5-bead start .  If you begin with more than 5 beads, there will be a hole or space in the center of the sample.  You would only use a large number of beads as a starter if you wanted to insert a cabochon in the center.  Diane Fitzgerald has excellent examples in her Beading with Brick Stitch book for the cabochon method.  Your sample will look different depending on which bead start you choose because the surrounding rounds will shape around the number of beads in your beginning round.  Work 12 rounds to make your sample.  Our sample will be worked with a 3-bead start.

Here are images of  3, 4 and 5 bead starts:

Due to the nature of the beads and the stitch, I can not give you an exact number of beads to add for each round.  However, after you make 3 or 4 samples, you will see that making a more uniform sample is dependant on how many beads you add, the shape of each bead and whether you add an additional bead in the same place as the last bead or add a bead in the next stitch.    Flat circular brick stitch makes exciting patterns and offers great versatility.  Size 11/0 Czech beads will make good round shapes.  Delicas will tend to be more geometric because the beads are tubular in shape.  Any tubular shaped bead will tend to make squared off edges at various sections of the piece.   You can make samples using size 6/0 beads and 8/0 beads too.  Use doubled thread for these larger size beads.  Size 15/0 Czech beads make lovely little samples. 



  • Czech 11/0 beads,  3 colors

  • Delicas,  3 colors

  • Size A” Silamide beading thread


  • Size 12 sharps or beading needles

  • Scissors 

For These Samplers
Use single thread, approximately 40” long as a working thread, leaving a 5” tail to stitch back in at the beginning for each sample.  Cull beads including Delicas for beads that are sharp or odd shaped.   Each time new thread is added, bring the needle up through a few beads in previous rounds and then up through the last bead strung and continue.  Leave a small tail thread on the end until you have worked a few stitches, then you can cut off the tail thread.  When finished, stitch in any loose threads.  After you make the beginning round, each round starts with 2 beads and then you add 1 bead at a time for the rest of that round.  Samples worked in a circular fashion are worked in "rounds" instead of "rows."  With a 2 bead beginning, the end of each round will be even, making circles of bead colors; color 1, 2 and 3.  

Note 1:  Each time you add a bead, bring the needle underneath the thread that is  between the two beads of the previous round.   Do not go through the beads, take the needle under the thread.  The only time you bring the needle through the beads is when the last bead of a round is strung,  you bring the needle through the first bead strung and back up the last bead strung.   You also go through beads when you finish each round.

Note 2:  Each time you add a bead, you will need to decide whether to take the needle under the same thread as the last bead you strung, or under the thread of the next bead of the previous round.  You will be able to decide by looking at the last bead you strung.  If thread shows at the base of the last bead strung, you can be pretty sure you need to add the next bead under this same thread space.  If no thread shows, take the needle under the thread of the  next bead of the previous round.  Once you add a bead, if there is a large open space between it and the previous bead you strung, then you should remove the bead and bring the needle under the same thread as the previous bead.  If you see adding a bead under the same thread placement is going to make it ruffle in shape, then do not add another bead there, add the bead under the thread above the previous bead round.  It is better to have a little space between the beads than have a ruffled effect to keep the samples flat.

Note 3:  Each time you add a bead, pull the thread taut.  The illustrations will show the thread loose so you can see the thread path.

Ready?  Let's bead!

Circular Flat Brick Stitch 1-Drop

Japanese Delica Size 11/0 Czech
left-handed figure brickstitch instructions right-handed figure
Step 1
For your first sample,
string 3 beads of color 1, push them towards the end of the thread, make a knot and  leave a 5” tail.   The illustrations show the thread loose so you can see the thread path, however, you will be pulling the thread taut each time you add beads.  These beads are the original "3-bead start." 
Step 2
Bring your needle up through the 3rd bead of the 3-bead start. 
Step 3
String 2 beads of color 2 and pull the thread taut.  These 2 beads will set on top of the 3-bead start. 
Step 4
These 2 beads are the beginning of the 2nd round.  Bring the needle underneath the thread between the 3rd and 2nd bead of the 3-bead start. 
Step 5
Bring the needle back up through 5th bead, the last bead strung.
Step 6
Now you can see the 2 beads are setting with the bead holes setting vertical.
Step 7
String 1 bead of color 2 and bring the needle under the same thread as the last beads.
Step 8
Bring the needle back up through the last bead strung so this bead will also set with the bead hole vertical.
Step 9
String 1 bead of color 2.  Bring the needle past the 2nd bead of the 3 bead start and under the thread between the 2nd and 1st bead of the 3-bead start. 
Step 10
Bring the needle back through the last bead strung.
Step 11
The last bead you strung should set with the bead hole vertical.  Continue adding one bead at a time until your needle is back to the 1st bead of color 2.  Bring the needle down through the 1st bead of color 2 and back up through the last bead strung. You are ready for the next round using color 3. Begin each round with 2 beads and then add 1 bead at a time.  Continue for a total of 12 rounds.

Remember, if the next bead you add under 1 thread is too snug, remove the needle, bring the thread out and take the needle past the next bead of the previous round and under the thread with the next bead added.  It is better to have the beads a little loose than too snug which will begin to ruffle.

 Diane Fitzgerald's 2-bead start

When I began working on this sampler, I contacted Diane Fitzgerald with a few questions about the stitch. Diane was very generous to give me permission to include her 2-bead start.  She worked out this method after her book, Beading with Brick Stitch, was already in print.  Diane's method offers another way to work this stitch

Be sure and take a look at Diane's gallery of bead artwork and her latest beading book, www.dianefitzgerald.com.
Diane Fitzgerald
Beautiful Beads
115 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone, 612-333-1070

Carol Wilcox Wells' Bead Start

Carol Wilcox Wells' book, Creative Bead Weaving, provides different methods for bead starts for both concentric and spiral flat circular brick stitch on pages 66 and 67 of her book.

1-Bead Start

Use a larger bead for the 1-bead start than the bead size you use for the rest of the sample.  Example:  8/0 beads, use 6/0 for the 1-bead start, 11/0 beads, use 8/0 for the 1 bead start, 15/0 Japanese beads, use 11/0 for the 1-bead start.

Bring the needle through the larger bead and make a knot close to the bead, leaving a 5" tail thread and working thread coming from the knot.  The knot sets on the outside of the large bead and the thread from the knot goes through the bead hole and around to the knot. String 2 smaller size beads and bring the needle under the thread with the knot on it, next to the large bead.  Bring the needle back up through the last bead of the 2 beads strung.  String 1 bead and bring the needle under the thread of the last bead of the 2 beads strung, and then back up through the1 bead you just added.  Continue to add 1 bead, bring your needle under the thread attached to the last bead strung, and back through the bead you are adding until you have made a circle around the large bead. Bring the needle down through the first bead strung and back up through the bead next to it.  You have your first round finished.  Continue making the sample using the same illustrations used for the 3-bead start.  My method does not show any thread covering the larger bead if your thread closely matches the beads you are using.

Kimberly Chapman's 1-Bead Start

You will find a one bead start at   www.kimberlychapman.com, with a complete tutorial using step-by-step photographs.  Kimberly gave me permission to include her website for these samples.  Kimberly works her 1-bead start differently from my instructions. Do take a look at her beadwork pieces worked in flat circular brick stitch, they are exceptional.

Flat Circular Brick Stitch that Spirals

These are 6/0 samples.  The sample with circular rounds that matches up in each round is a flat concentric sample.  The solid color sample and the sample that spirals are flat spiral samples.  I started my spiral sample that has two colors with 3-bead start, made one round beginning with 2-beads and the round meets.  Then I continued adding 1 bead at the beginning instead of 2 beads and the sample spiraled.  You can make your sample as I did or make the whole piece spiral from the beginning.

Begin with your 3-bead start, then add 1 bead instead of 2 at the beginning, continue adding 1 bead and the sample will spiral.  If you want to change back to even rounds with no spiral, use two beads to start the next round.

More Brickstitch Samples

This sample is made of size 15/0 Japanese beads with one round of Delicas.


This sample begins with a 1-bead start. 
I used a size 6/0 as the large starter bead
and 8/0 beads to work the rounds. 


This is a group of samples using various size beads. 
Notice how ruffled the sample is with 6/0 beads. 
Additional beads were put in each thread space
to force the beads to ruffle. 
The rest of the samples are 11/0 Czech beads,
Delicas and one 8/0.


I made two samples with mixed bead sizes.  The smaller sample begins at the center with 15/0 Japanese beads, then Delicas, then 15/0 beads, then small Japanese bugle beads, Delicas and an edging of 15/0 beads.  The other sample begins with 8/0 Czech beads, then a round of 8/0 Japanese tube beads and continues with one type bead and then the other.  The edge is finished with 15/0 beads and an edge of 15/0 beads.  I made a small piece with 15/0 beads and stitched it to the larger sample.  This sample has a ruffle to it and would make a nice centerpiece for a bracelet or broach.   The type of bead you use can change the shape of the sample.


After making these samples, I decided to make a multi technique sample.  I started with 6/0 beads and made a circular flat piece, then added 8/0 beads around the 6/0.  I worked right angle weave, square stitch and peyote stitch on outside sections of the circular piece.  I used 8/0 beads for these extensions.  Then I crocheted around the outer edge of one side, then added one row of brick stitch, then crocheted another edge and at one end I knit a small piece, following up with bead brick stitch along the edge.  The yarn is silk.  This sample shows you how you can continue to build on a small sample and add any type beading or fiber technique you like. You can use a small crochet hook or knitting needles to attach to the Silamide stitches and work off them with thin yarns.  Silamide thread is strong enough for a hook or needle to grasp underneath the stitch to begin adding crochet or knitting stitches. This sample could be stitched onto wearables or worked into a larger beadwork piece. 

Now that you have made the basic samples, experiment and make larger and smaller samples and add any other type seed bead or small bead for experimentation.  Add more beads between the previous beads strung and make a ruffle sample.  Combine bead sizes and shapes for unique effects. Make your samples and then make additional pieces to incorporate into jewelry or wearables.

Japanese Delica Size 11/0 Czech

 Here is a sample of Delicas and 11/0 Czech beads worked in 12 rounds.
Notice how the Delicas tend to make the geometric triangles within the circle.

Resources For Brick Stitch

Technical Resources
Creative Bead Weaving by Carol Wilcox Wells, Lark Books, distributed by Sterling Publishing, New York, NY
Beading with Brick Stitch by Diane Fitzgerald, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO

Historical References
Beading with Brick Stitch by Diane Fitzgerald, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO

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