Russian Spiral Bead Stitch Instructions

Updated July 19, 2017

Russian spiral is a tubular netting stitch used in beadweaving to create ropes with beads that alternate in a diagonal pattern. The stitch is commonly used to make bracelets and necklaces. The most frequent pattern for Russian spiral produces a beaded rope with a circumference of nine beads, but some beaders prefer to create narrow ropes only six beads around.

These instructions will teach you the nine bead method.

Thread the needle with the Fireline, pour a few dozen beads of each type out onto a beading mat, and use the needle to pick up two size 8 beads and one bicone bead with the needle. Slide them down to the end of the Fireline, leaving one foot of tail. Hold the fingers of one hand over the Fireline to keep the beads from sliding down the tail.

Use the needle to pick up another two size 8s and one more bicone. Slide them down until they are next to the other beads. Use the needle to pick up a final two size 8s and a final bicone. Slide them down as well.

You now have nine beads on the Fireline.

Pass the needle back through the first bead you strung, going in the same direction as the original thread. Pull the thread taut to pull the beads into a tight circle. Since the beads are now in a circle, they can't fall off the Fireline, but you should still keep holding the tail thread in your nondominant hand, applying even tension to keep the circle of beads taut as you continue to add new beads.

The circle of beads created in Step 2 is your foundation row.

Thread a bicone and then two size 8 beads onto the needle and push them down to the beadwork. Skip the next two beads on the ring and pass the needle through the bead directly after them. This will be the size 8 bead that follows the next bicone.

Pull the thread taught and repeat, adding a bicone and two size 8s, pushing them down, and then passing the needle through the third bead on the ring. This third bead will again be the one directly after the next bicone.

You are now two-thirds around the foundation row.

Thread a bicone and then two size 8 beads onto the needle. Push them down to the beadwork. Skip the next two beads on the ring. This time, instead of passing your needle through the third bead along, pass it through that bead and the next two beads. This is called "stepping up" and is essential to place your needle in the right position to begin the next row.

You have now completed another circle of beads that sits atop the previous beadwork.

Continue adding rows of Russian spiral to the beadwork by repeating Steps 3 and 4 until your beadwork is the desired length.

Finish the current row and tie a half hitch knot to secure the Fireline. Pull the knot taut. On each end of the beadwork, weave down through several beads, then tie another half hitch knot, pulling it taut. Repeat twice more, then weave down through three more beads and cut the Fireline close to the last bead.


You can make a more narrow Russian spiral using size 11 beads in place of the size 8s and size 8s in place of the bicones. Since this design has no crystals that cut the thread, you can substitute Nymo or Silamide for the Fireline. This will make your finished rope more pliable. If you wish to add a clasp, add the first half of the clasp in Step 6, before you begin working down the beadwork to secure the thread. Add the second half of the clasp to the other end of the beadwork in the same manner. The beauty of this stitch is in its pattern. Choose beads with contrasting colours to see the pattern most clearly in the finished piece.


The holes in crystal beads can be sharp enough to cut through beading threads like Nymo or Silamide. If your design includes crystals, use a stronger stringing medium such as Fireline.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed beads, size 8
  • Crystal bicone beads, 4mm
  • Fireline beading line, 2.72kg. test
  • Beading needle, size 10
  • Beading mat
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About the Author

Elise Vogler is an educational consultant who started writing in 1990. She is a certified SMART Board trainer and holds teaching authorizations in history, science, English and language acquisition. Vogler holds a bachelor's degree in literature from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.A. in humanities from California State University.