Lazy Stitch Beadwork (Lane Stitch)

Lane Stitch Beadwork is probably the most common form of beadwork seen on pow wow regalia, because of its ease of application and its nice coverage. Good lane stitch has a nice "hump" appearance and is easily recognizable. .
Lane stitch first appeared in the early 1800's as white traders traded the smaller "seed" beads with the Native Americans. The tribes began to apply these very small beads to many of their important articles, and the birth of lane stitch began. Lane stitch, unlike many of the other techniques, can be used on just about everything. It was used on horse saddles, mocs, dresses, well, everything. It can be beaded on canvas or directly on leather itself

Materials needed:

Beading needles (very small eyes) Beading thread (I use "A")
Beeswax Beads (10 to 13/0)
Canvas or leather material Scissors

1. The first step is to do a little research. Lane stitch is very easy to research, because it is in practically every museum in North America, so even if you can't go to a powwow, you have no excuse! Take many pictures, and notice all of the details. Older articles have more mellow colors, like "greasy grass yellow" and "Cheyenne pink," contrasted with the brighter colors seen today. Also note the size of the beads. Larger articles use larger beads, like 10/0 and 11/0. Smaller articles will use 12/0 or 13/0 sizes. (These can be obtained from traders all over the country.) Newer articles, like many of those you will see at powwows, are brighter and more colorful. Also notice the layout of the rows, or "humps." Many articles only have straight rows, while others, like mocs, have rows that match the contour of the article. Always remember, it is good to do research in museums and through going to powwows, but never copy any of the designs. Many of them are family designs, or even more, received in visions. You may not copy another person's designs without their express permission. There are some safe designs though, like geometric patterns, but always check before beading is begun.

2. Obtain your surface for the beading. It can be any shape, as long it's pliable but not too thin (regular weight cloth). For at least the first few pieces of beadwork, it is a good idea to draw lanes for the beads to help in keeping your lanes straight. Lanes are usually about 7/16 or 1/2 wide and contain 7 to 9 beads per lane. After the lanes are drawn, go ahead and draw the design on the material to serve you as a guide when beading. Remember, when creating designs, don't make it too complicated and keep it balanced and even
.A neat trick suggested by Jerry Andrews of Georgia to keep rows absolutely uniform is to lay down cheap scotch tape on your material to set up your lanes. It's important to use cheat tape so you can pull it out, from the end of a row, when you are done beading. It works great when you are working on dark cloth or on very good brain tan that you don't want any lines on. He said that he has also used washable fabric markers to draw a rough pattern on white buckskin. When you are done beading, a light spray of water, from an atomizer, and all the lines go away! Thanks, Jerry.

A beaded traditional Set
A beaded Traditional set


Back to Craft Corner