Beading with Glass Beads: Lazy Stitch

After the overwhelming amount of great feedback we received after Michael's first beadwork technique video debut (he introduced us to the Applique Stitch), we just had to have him come back and show us another…today he demonstrates the Lane/Lazy Stitch technique.

What to know about this stitch
This beading stitch is the most commonly used in this area by Lakota people. It's called the Lazy Stitch (some people think that's a little pejorative, so they have kind of renamed it in the beading world to Lane Stitch, but most people still say Lazy Stitch).

This is a one thread technique. You can do some naturalistic things with this particular stitch, but most of your designs will be a little more "digital" than if you were using the Applique Stitch.

What you'll need

  • One needle
  • One length of thread (this will be doubled)
  • Bees Wax
  • Beads
  • Material to sew on

How to begin

  1. Come up through your piece of leather from the back to the front side (except for this initial knot, this stitch is usually not visible from the backside of hide*).
  2. Load your needle with beads:

If you are using loose beads (most of our antique beads), put them in a small container and use your needle to "scoop" them up.

If you are using hanked beads (Czech beads), take one of the hanked strands take your needle up through the strand and transfer them from the string to your needle.

Making a stitch

  1. With this particular stitch, you will need to count your beads (you will be beading in rows - or Lanes - so each will need to have the same number of beads).
  2. Load your needle with beads (usually 7 or 8 beads).
  3. Slide the beads down your length of string all the way to your piece of leather.
  4. Remember, this technique is not seen from the backside, so to make your next row, you're going to basically "nick" the hide (perpendicular to your row) and go up about one bead's width away to start your next row of beads*.
  5. Load your needle with the same number of beads as your first row...and repeat.


  • Czech beads are more regularly shaped than the Italians, so some beaders prefer to work with the Czechs over the Italians for this stitch...but, the Italians do have such nice colors (as beadwork artist Kevin Fast Horse has also said).
  • Its important to find what direction feels best for you when you bead - for instance, moving away from you or to the side.
  • To help the needle move through your material more easily, you can bend the hide.
  • When you "nick" the hide, you want to go though deep enough to hold the thread tightly, but not all the way though.
  • If you pull your stitch a little tighter, it will make your row arch up slightly.
  • To keep your rows uniform, use your thumb nail to help push the beads into place.
  • Beadwork should be relaxing (after awhile, you can visually rely on your row length instead of getting so "count-y" and manic).
  • If you get a row too close to your previous one (or anything you consider a mistake), you can simply take it out by backing out your needle (it's thin enough that you can just slide it out).

*If the hide is thin or you chose to bead on cloth, you will need to go all the way through the material because it wouldn't be able to hold your stitches. Felt, however, will work more like a thicker leather hide (you won't need to go all the way through).

Michael's parting words of advice:
Find what works best for you (how to hold it), get your technique down, and learn your stitch...serially repeat that stitch a few thousand times, and by gosh, you'll have something to show for it!