St. Petersburg Stitch Tutorial

Learn Single St. Petersburg Stitch

St Petersburg Chain Beadwork Tutorial
Lisa Yang

St. Petersburg stitch seems complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is easy and works up quickly. St Petersburg is typically used to make bead chains. 

There are two well-known variations, Single St. Petersburg chain, and Double St. Petersburg chain. They both use the same technique with the double version connecting the second chain down the middle beads. This tutorial will show you how to make a single St. Petersburg chain.

A favorite quality of St. Petersburg stitch is that it works with a wide variety of beads--with each bead combination giving the stitch a different look. The stitch is typically done with two different beads, a body bead, and end beads. By changing the end beads, the stitch can take a lot of beautiful turns since you can use drop beads, crystals, and many other types of beads.

Using Fireline or Wildfire beading thread since the chain made with St Petersburg stitch is very flexible and the thicker thread gives it a little more body.

How to Start

Beginning of St. Petersburg Chain
Lisa Yang

This tutorial uses two types of beads: size 8 silver Miyuki beads for the body of the chain and dize 6 bronze E beads for the end or turn beads. 

String a stop bead. One of the bronze end beads is my stop bead. Next, pick up six of the body beads and slide them down to the stop bead.

If you understand the stitch better from a beading technique diagram, there is one towards the end of this step by step.

String the First Row of Beads

Learn to Make St. Petersburg Stitch
Lisa Yang

Insert your needle back through the third and fourth body beads. This is going to form a loop with those beads.

Pull Beads Into a Loop

How to Do St Petersburg Stitch
Lisa Yang

Pull the thread taut to make a four-bead loop. Push the beads so they are stacked and side by side. The two beads that are protruding are going to be part of the next row of the beadwork.

Add the Outside Turn Bead

Adding the outside bead
Lisa Yang

Pick up one of the end beads (size 6 beads) and go back through the last three beads in the row. Bring your needle out underneath the two bead loop from the prior step. Make sure the thread is taut and there are no gaps between the beads.

At this point, you have completed the first row, and there are two body beads in place for the second row.

Add Another Turn Bead

Adding second turn bead
Lisa Yang

Pick up another end bead and stitch through the two body beads to secure it in place. This is the inside end bead and would be the center beads in the chain if you were making a double St. Petersburg stitch chain.

Add Four Body Beads

Adding four more beads
Lisa Yang

Pick up four more body beads and stitch back through the first two to make a small loop. Make sure you push all of the beads close together and arrange the beads into a small 2x2 square like in the first row. 

From this point on, you will continue the previous steps of adding an end bead (outside turn bead), stitching through the three beads in the row and coming out under the two stacked beads. Then you will pick up another end bead (this is the inside end bead), stitch through the two beads that are sticking out from the prior row, pick up four more body beads, and continue.


Sample stitch
Lisa Yang

 St Petersburg stitch looks much more confusing and difficult than it is. Try a practice chain and give yourself a chance to get into the rhythm of the beadwork and you will find it simple and relaxing.

To learn the stitch, it is easiest to work with larger beads, like the size 6 and size 8 beads being used here. Round beads are a little easier to work with and look neater than cylinder beads.

One tip to make the St Petersburg stitch more quickly. When adding the four body beads, hold the first two beads between your thumb and index finger and slide them down to the bead chain. When the beads are close to the chain, insert the needle back through these two beads and make the four bead loop.

Slide the loop down next to the beadwork. To me, it is easier to put the needle back through these two beads if you keep a hold of them and then push the group of four beads next to the chain.

When the chain is finished, you may want to turn the end beads using your needle to make them all face the same way. It's not required, but some people like all of the beads to be facing the same way.

St. Petersburg Stitch Diagram

St Petersburg Bead Stitch Diagram Instructions
Lisa Yang

If you are having trouble following the pattern of St Petersburg stitch, this bead diagram may help. The blue beads in the diagram are what I call body beads and the yellow beads are the end or turn beads. The red line shows the stitch thread path for that step.

Single St. Petersburg Chain Bracelet

Beaded garland bracelet
Lisa Yang

Once you have the basics of St. Petersburg stitch down, use it to make a bracelet. This St Petersburg Stitch bracelet is made with size 11 beads. The fringe quality of the stitch resembles a holiday garland, so this project uses colors that make the bracelet feel like a holiday wreath for the wrist.

St. Petersburg stitch Russian leaves are also a simple project to learn and creates beautiful lacy beaded leaves that look great as pendants, earrings or at the ends of a lariat.

Examples of St. Petersburg Stitch

St Petersburg Stitch samples
Lisa Yang

The top two St Petersburg chains are made with size 11 body beads and size 8 end beads. The middle chain uses cylinder beads for the body beads. It gives a slightly less smooth look since the cylinder beads don't stack quite as neatly.

The last example is a double St Petersburg chain with dragon scale beads on the ​outer end beads. The end beads that run down the center are size 11 Miyuki beads.