Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

How To Read Patterns and Instructions

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020


Infuriating! That’s how many people, beginners and advanced alike, feel when they try to understand patterns and instructions.

Know up-front that most patterns are poorly drawn, and most instructions are poorly written. The instructors who write these often leave out critical steps — especially for new beaders and jewelry makers who are unfamiliar with many of the things these instructors assume that you know. Most often, they leave out critical information showing you the pathway, and how to negotiate that pathway, from where you are to where you are going next. It’s obvious to the instructor. But not so obvious to you.

In patterns, this “where-am-I, where-am-I-going-next” information is frequently unclear or omitted. You did Step 1 OK. You understand what Step 2 is about. But you don’t know how to get from Step 1 to Step 2. Othertimes, the patterns are overly complex, often, in the editorial interest of reducing the number of printed pages. Instead of showing a separate pattern or diagram for each step, the editors frequently try to show you three, four, five or more steps in the same diagram. So you have a bird’s nest of lines, and a spider-web’s road map — and you’re no where.

I tell people, that you need to re-write the instructions and re-draw the patterns or diagrams in a way you personally understand. This is very helpful.

Reading Patterns: Usually patterns are organized starting at the bottom with row 1 or step 1, first moving left to right, and then moving up bottom to the top. Othertimes, but less frequenlty, patterns are drawn so that you move in the opposite direction, starting at the top, moving left to right, then working down towards the bottom. When reading a pattern, you first need to locate whether the pattern goes bottom-up or top-down, or left-right or right-left.

Next, determine the directional flow of the work. Are you moving left to right and then right to left? Are you moving left to right, and then flipping the piece over, so you can continue moving left to right? Are you starting in the middle?

Most patterns and instructions are written from the Right-Handed person’s perspective. Right-Handed people usually work counter-clockwise. If you are Left-Handed, you may want to redraw the pattern or rewrite the instructions. Left-Handed people usually work clockwise.

Now, look at all the special symbols on the pattern, if any. Decipher what each one means before you begin your work. If you don’t know what “11/0” or “cylinder bead” means, for example, use the internet or your local bead or craft store, as a resource for finding out.

Clearly delineate, even draw an outline on the pattern itself with a pen, the thread, string or wire path. Be sure whether you are following a straight line path, or not.

Determine if you are creating one line or row at a time, or more than one line or row at a time.

Sometimes it is helpful to use a post-it note and place it right below the row you are working on. This helps you not lose your place.

If the pattern is fuzzy on how you proceed from one step to the next, try to draw in your own pattern, based on the written instructions, or on what you intuitively feel needs to happen next.

To draw your own patterns, you can find several sources of free graph paper on line. Usually the graph paper is available for a wide range of bead weaving stitches and techniques.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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