Friday, June 29, 2012

Fishtail Tutorial

Hello! It's been awhile, I know, but I have a new tutorial now to make up for my absence. I came up with this design just from fiddling around with some short bugles and some seeds yesterday, and ended up with a pretty nifty design, if I do say so myself. It's sculptural and dramatic, but really quite easy to stitch- it works up quickly, too.

The lovely ladies over at the OTTBS facebook page inspired me to name this 'Fishtail', which I think makes perfect sense :D So, let's get started. I apologize in advance for some of the blurry pics, but i think you can still see what's going on with them. As always, if you have any questions or if anything is unclear, please let me know!

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Note: this tutorial is protected by an International Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. This means that you are free to post this wherever you like as long as you give proper Attribution (that is, to me, Jet Kosanke, and my website,, it may not be used commercially (you're not allowed to make money off it, that is, sell this tutorial to other people for money), and you're free to make changes to it as long as you also share it under these same restrictions (that is, you still give Attribution to me, you don't sell it, and you allow it to be shared freely.) For more information, click the Creative Commons link at the end of the tutorial.

By the way- NonCommercial doesn't mean you can't sell works you make using this tutorial. If you make a necklace, bracelet, or whatever using this tutorial, feel free to sell it- however, you may not mass-produce it, and the Attribution part still applies, that is, you still have to attribute the design to me.

If you're unsure if what you want to do is allowed, just ask me! I'm really pretty laid back about things like this :) I'd rather share my knowledge and discoveries for free so others can learn than charge money for my tutorials. With all that said, on to the good stuff! :)

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Click on any image to view a larger version.

  • your favorite needle and thread
  • size 11/0 cylinder beads
  • 5mm bugles (I believe. The bugles need to be as long as two cylinders are high.)
  • OPTIONAL: fringe beads, drops, or magatamas. even daggers would work and look nifty
  • your favorite music
  • an icy mojito or margarita- or three (also optional, but nice to have)

Step One

String four seeds on a comfortable length of thread. I like to use one 'wingspan', personally.

Step Two

Go through all the beads again to form a loop.

Step Three

Pull tight and knot securely.

Step Four

Needle through the two beads next to where you knotted and pull through.

Step Five

Pick up two seeds, then go back down the two beads you went through in the last step.

Step Six

Go back through the two beads you just added.

Step Seven

Continue in this way until your strip is ten beads long.

Step Eight

Now we start the herringbone stitch. Pick up two bugles, and then stitch down through the two beads next to the beads your thread is coming out of.

Step Nine

Stitch up through the two beads next to the beads your thread is coming out of.

Step Ten

Repeat steps eight and nine across the row until you have stitched a total of five stitches.

Step Eleven

Here we're going to 'step up'. Instead of the way it's usually done in herringbone, where you add a bead, then stitch up through the bead above the one your thread is coming out, we're going to do something different.

Stitch up through the ONE bead next to the one your thread is coming out of. Don't stitch through both seeds, just the one.

(Of course, if you wanted to do it the other way and add a bead, go for it! I just chose not to)

Step Twelve

Now, Stitch up through the bead DIAGONAL from the bead your thread is coming out of.

Step Thirteen

Now, needle through the bugle above the bead your thread is exiting.

Step Fourteen

Now that we've 'stepped up', we're going to stitch another row of herringbone.

Add two bugles, go down through the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting. (Don't go down through the seeds below it, just go through the one bugle.)

Step Fifteen

Stitch up through the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting.

Step Sixteen

Repeat steps fourteen and fifteen till you reach the end of the row. Your thread should be exiting the last bugle in the previous row, as shown.

Step Seventeen

Now we have to reverse the direction our thread is going in. Locate the thread 'bridge' between the last two seed beads in the second row of beads. You're going to slip your needle UNDER this thread 'bridge', then pull your thread all the way through. This anchors your thread so that you can go back the way you came through the bugle your thread is coming out of.

I like to call this a 'turnaround'.

Step Eighteen

Stitch up through the two bugles on the edge of your strip, as shown.

Then, stitch a row of herringbone in bugles- five stitches.

Step Nineteen

Now we're going to do a 'turnaround' again. It's easier this time, because the herringbone gives you a little gap between the bugles that is easy to put your needle through. Put your needle through the gap between the first two bugles in the first row of bugles, as shown- then pull your thread through.

Step Twenty

Now, stitch up through the two bugles on the edge of the strip, as shown.

Step Twenty One

This row is still herringbone, but with a small addition. Pick up two bugles and stitch down through the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting, as shown. DON'T go through the next bugle in line, though.

Step Twenty Two

Here we add one seed bead. By now you can probably see how the beadwork is starting to 'fan out'- we're just filling in some of the space between the columns of herringbone.

Step Twenty Three

Now we go up through the next bugle in line. We're going to repeat this across the whole row.

Step Twenty Four

When you get to the end of the row, do a 'turnaround'.

Step Twenty Five

We're going to do the same thing in this row as the last row, except we're adding two seeds between each stitch instead of just one. Pick up two bugles, go through the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting, pick up two seeds, go up through the next bugle, and repeat.

Step Twenty Six

At the end of the row, do a 'turnaround'.

Step Twenty Seven

Instead of adding two bugles like usual here, we're going to add one fringe bead (or drop or magatama or dagger or whatever you like) and go back down the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting.

NOTE: The fringe bead is optional. If you don't have fringe beads or don't want to add fringe beads at all, just go back down through the next bugle as usual without adding any bead. It looks just as nifty without a fringe or drop as it does with. It's up to you :)

Step Twenty Eight

Now, just like the last row, we're going to pick up seeds before going up through the next bugle- THREE beads this time. Don't get carried away, though! We aren't doing this across the entire row.

After you stitch up through the next bugle (the third one in this row) instead of adding beads, go back down through the next bugle without adding any beads.

Step Twenty Nine

At this point, we're creating the base row for the next 'fin'.

Pick up two seeds, then go back down the bead your thread is exiting.

This is the same concept as what we did with the very first row of seeds at the beginning, but we're substituting the existing bugle for two seeds. I hope that made sense.

Step Thirty

Stitch up through the two beads you just added.

Step Thirty One

We're going to repeat step twenty nine and thirty here. Pick up two seeds, go back up through the beads added in step thirty, then go back down through the two seeds you added in this step.

Step Thirty Two

Stitch up through the next bugle in the row.

Step Thirty Three

Stitch down through the last two seeds added.

Step Thirty Four

Stitch back up the bugle next to where your thread is exiting, then down through the next bugle in the row.

Step Thirty Five

Now we repeat steps twenty nine through thirty four. Almost done with the fin!

Step Thirty Six

Now, like at the beginning of this row, we pick up three seeds, then stitch up through the next bugle in the row.

Step Thirty Seven

String a fringe bead (or don't), go down through the last bugle in the row, do a 'turnaround', then work your needle back through the existing beadwork until your thread is coming out of the bugle shown in the image.

Your first fin is done!

Step Thirty Eight

Now, we add two bugles and go down through the bugle next to the one your thread is exiting. This is the same concept as our first row of herringbone at the beginning.

Step Thirty Nine

Stitch up through the two seed beads next to the bugle your thread is exiting.

Step Forty

Continue herringbone stitches with bugles across the row- five stitches total.

Step Forty One

From here, repeat from step fourteen until your strip of fishtails is as long as you like :)

And there you have it! Whew. I haven't finished a bracelet with this method yet, but I'm going to continue off of what I stitched up for this tutorial. I have a clever idea for a clasp, but I don't know if I can pull it off, so I won't say yet what it is. I'll be sure to post pictures when it's finished.

If you create something using this tutorial, I'd love to see it! Email me photos of your work (with a link to your blog if you have one) to - I'd like to create a gallery page on my blog featuring your creations made using this tutorial (or any of my tutorials) with a link back to your blog, too :) Don't be shy, let me show off your work! :)

Creative Commons License

Until then, I'll leave you with this; my mother's kitty Jinx, sitting in his favorite kitty-hammock. I love love love his perpetually sleepy eyes :3

'Til Next Time!


  1. I love this pattern....thank you so much for sharing. When I saw the first completd segment it reminded me a little of a crown.

    1. you know, when i first came up with it, i saw a crown, too :D thanks!

    2. I want to thank you for such a cool design. I studied the instructions and now going to try this . I think it could look real cool is summer colours. I hope to follow you on more of your designs .Easily understood.
      Thanks all the way from P.E.I. Canada

    3. También me ha encantado tu diseño, y el paso a paso que nos regalas es para no perderse, por supuesto que probaré hacerlo y te compartiré una foto para agradecerte tu gentileza de compartir el tutorial.

    4. Esperamos que disfrute de lo que es! gracias por leer! (perdona mi mala traducción) :)

    5. Maria in Canada: thanks! i hope you have fun making it. if you have any questions about any part of it, let me know and i'll try to explain it better :) i'd love to see it in summer colors! please do let me see the results if you end up stitching this up :)

  2. So cool and thank you for sharing a beautifully written and photographed tutorial.

    1. i'm glad it was useful! i'm not completely experienced with tutorial-making, so i'm glad for the positive feedback :)

  3. Great tutorial. It reminded me of a crown also when I first saw it on Pinterest. Can't wait to see what you do for the clasp, you have me in suspense now:) Thanks for sharing!

    1. it makes me so happy to know my work is floating around on pinterest- i didn't put it there! :) i do have a working idea for the clasp- it's slow going, but when i do get it worked out i'll post it :)

  4. thanks for this tutorial - it's lovely !

    1. you're very welcome- i hope it's useful :)

  5. Vielen Dank für Tutorial.Ich verfolge Ihren Blog mit grossem Interesse.

    1. Ich bin froh, dass Sie es genießen! ich danke Ihnen! :)

  6. thank you very much ! It is a very good idea !

  7. Love the pattern. Is it a bracelet?, I can see it as one.

    1. i envision this as a bracelet (i'm lazy and don't make many necklaces.. takes too long haha) thank you!

  8. Fantástico tutorial. Muchas gracias por compartir. Un saludo desde Leganés, España

    1. gracias! Espero que disfruten de lo que es. (por favor, perdóname por mi mala traducción) :)

  9. Hi! I was intrigued by your "fishtail" herringbone, and I am now about 2/3 of the way through making a bracelet using your technique. I'm still trying to decided how I am going to finish it, but I think I am going to do a series of rows based on the final row of each section (in which you add the double delica stacks to set up the start for the next section). This will give a sturdy end for attaching some sort of fastener/clasp. I may also go back and build up a few rows off the starting set of delicas. I have several different colors of the tiny bugles, and this is such a cool way to use them!

    1. so sorry i missed your comment here! thank you so much for showing me your completed piece and i very very much liked how you finished the ends! :D just lovely work (and those colors, ach i love them!

  10. I hope I can add the image, but I completed the bracelet! So here goes: it doesn't look like I can place the image in here. Oh well.