Tubular Peyote Tension.

Q: I'm working on my first amulet bag and I am making the "Electric Blue" bag in 'Carol Wilcock's' book. This is my first tubular peyote piece, and I used a cardboard tube cut down to the correct size. I've finished the body of the bag and slipped it off the tube. It looks even and smooth, but it is a little stiff. I flattened it and added the bottom flap and stitched it together and it's okay, just stiff. Did I make the tension too tight, or should it be a little stiff?

A: This happened to me with the first bag I made, so I didn't pull as tight for the 2nd one, and it's smooth like silk, so I think the answer is: Yes, the tension is too tight. Depends how you like them. I like mine to have a bit of body, but to retain a fabric-y feel... sort of like leather. Some people like them nice and taut, while others like them limp as noodles. The only drawback to the ultra-stiff ones is you'll get wrinkles (especially with 'Delicas'). One way to perfect your tension is a tip I learned from 'Suzanne Cooper'. Use a toilet roll as a form, but once you size it for your beadwork, wrap it in tape (I use duct tape) so the form is "plumped up". Then put your beadwork back on the form... it should fit VERY snug, and be almost difficult to get back on, but this is one way to guarantee perfect tension in your bags... the limper you like your beadwork, the more snug the fit should be. Part of the problem with 'Delicas' is that the edges are straight instead of rounded (like seed beads). So flat panels work great, but tubular stitching tends to require a much looser tension, especially if you plan to flatten the bag. It is very difficult to stitch 'Delicas' loosely. It takes a lot of practice because they "snap" together so nice and neat. The trick with wrapping the cardboard tube with enough tape to make your beadwork fit VERY snug over it will help loosen your tension and keep it even. In other words, the beadwork should not "slip" on and off the tube, it should be a tight fit. The tighter the fit, the looser your tension. That said, there's no right, or wrong, way in tension. Some people prefer very stiff, some people prefer very limp. Most people fall somewhere in between. If you LIKE a limp bag, try the tape trick.