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What to Know: Needles and Threads

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Picture this: you've set out to make a piece of beadwork using small beads. You've chosen a good needle and some strong thread and you feel you're on your way to beading bliss. You clip along for awhile. But what is this? An impasse! Your bliss has been interrupted by tangles, broken needles and terribly frayed and weak thread. What happened? Could it be that you didn't match the needle, thread and technique properly? If so, arm yourself with the information below and the road to happy beading could be right around the corner.

Threads

C-Lon® nylon beading thread is a UV resistant nylon cord. It is soft and flexible with a range of breaking strengths and multiple thread weights available for different tasks. Colors may vary from dye lot to dye lot.

Tips:
  • Lightly coat thread with beeswax before stringing to help protect against thread fraying and water damage
  • Size AA/thin beading thread is ideal for use with size 15/0 seed beads. Thread has a 4-pound breaking strength.
  • Size D/general purpose beading thread is ideal for use with size 11/0 seed beads. Thread has a 7-pound breaking strength.
  • Micro-weight thread measures 0.25mm and is ideal for stringing small hole beads, micro-macramé, bead crochet, detail work, loom weaving, stitching or wrapping. Thread has an 11-pound breaking strength.
  • Fine-weight thread measures 0.4mm and is ideal for micro-macramé, bead crochet, finger weaving and more. Thread has a 25-pound breaking strength.
  • Standard-weight thread is ideal for micro-macramé, bead crochet, thread making, kumihimo braiding, tatting and more. Thread has a 34-pound breaking strength.
  • Heavyweight thread measures 0.49mm and is ideal for micro-macramé, bead crochet, kumihimo braiding, finger weaving, tatting and any other uses that require an extra-strong thread. Thread has a 75-pound breaking strength.
Clover polyester thread is washable and durable. This twisted polyester thread features a soft finish and will not ''pill.''

Tip: Designed to work with all loom types, its test weight is 60 pounds.

FireLine™ interknitted thread for jewelry-making is designed for stringing and weaving projects. This popular jewelry-making thread does not stretch or tangle, threads effortlessly and resists abrasion from beads with sharp or rough edges. Great for use with Swarovski crystal components, seed beads and gemstone beads.

The gel-spun, polyethylene braided thread is recognized as the strongest fiber, per diameter, ever created. The advanced technology used to make FireLine interknitted thread, makes it ultra-thin in diameter but three times stronger than regular monofilament. It's also UV protected so it won't deteriorate in the sunlight.

Kevlar is a very strong synthetic material. So strong, in fact, it's used to make bulletproof vests!

Tips: This thread works best for stringing and you can use any type of needle listed below to work with it. When securing Kevlar, use a fisherman's knot to ensure its continued strength. Kevlar is naturally yellow, but can be dyed any color using fabric dyes.

Multi-fiber thread is the same thread that's used to make parachutes and sails. High-tech multi-fibers made from molecularly compressed synthetic materials make this one of the strongest fibers in the world--while keeping it soft and supple as silk. Color may vary from dye lot to dye lot.

Tips: Size #0 is the finest, measuring 0.30mm. Size #10 is the largest, measuring around 1mm.

Nymo® nylon beading thread has become the most popular choice for working with seed beads. It's lightweight and comes in a variety of thicknesses and colors. Be sure to use beeswax or Thread Heaven to coat and prevent it from fraying.

Tips: Use only size "D" and lightweight beads with smooth holes for stringing. For loomwork, use size "D" for the warp and size "B" or "D" for the weft. For off-loom beadwork, use the heaviest size possible for the type of work you're doing: If you are passing through seed beads more than three times or are using size 15-2 seed beads, use size "O" or "OO"; for other off-loom projects use size "B" or "D". Any needle listed below works with this thread, but if you choose a beading needle, be sure the eye isn't too small for the thread weight you've chosen. You don't want the needle to be the culprit in wearing out your thread.

Silamide waxed nylon beading thread is a twisted, two-ply waxed nylon beading thread with supple strength, resilience and colorfastness. Thread tensile strength is approximately 4 pounds, 4 ounces. Color may vary from dye lot to dye lot.

Tip: Pre-waxed thread is ideal for peyote stitch, brick stitch, loom weaving and beads with small holes.

Silk is the most traditional thread for stringing pearls, but the thinner sizes are also useful in making other beaded pieces. This natural material has the widest range of sizes, as well as the largest variety of colors of any of the materials listed here. Brands include Griffin and Purely Silk™.

Tips: Silk often comes on cards that include a needle already attached to the thread. You can use any of the other needles listed as well, but, as with Nymo®, be sure your needle isn't wearing out the thread. Because the ends fray so easily, silk is sometimes difficult to thread onto a beading needle, so a Wide-Eye™ needle might be easiest. If stringing, only use with smooth-holed beads so the thread doesn't become weak from abrasion. Size "D" works well for light weight beads, size "E-F" for medium weight, and size "F-FFF" for heavy weight. For off-loom or bead embroidery, use size "OO-D", and be sure to thoroughly prepare the thread with beeswax or Thread Heaven.

Silkon® Bonded Nylon Thread is a synthetic material that looks and drapes like silk, but resists fraying and has incredible strength. It comes in light, medium, and heavy weights, and in a wide array of colors.

Tips: Silkon is primarily used for stringing beads because it is so strong and durable. You can use any type of needle listed with this type of thread, but, depending on the weight you use, it may be easiest to use a Wide-Eye™ needle.

SoNo nylon beading thread is the same thickness as Nymo size B and can be used with seed beads. Use with or without wax, works for on- and off-loom beading.

Tip: This colorfast thread is best suited for size 12 beading needles.

Spiderwire® Ultracast™ Invisi-Braid thread uses special patented technology makes this stringing material the closest thing to clear and invisible, with super-strength and durability at incredibly small diameter sizes.

Tip: Works with even the sharpest glass and crystal beads.

Needles

Beading needles are very thin, flexible needles most often used for seed bead work. The advantage to using this type (rather than regular sewing needles) is that their eyes are the same width as the rest of the needle, so there's no added metal width to get in the way as you pass through seed and other small-holed beads. These needles also come in a twin-pointed version (used for bead embroidery) and a glover's version (these have a triangle tip used for leather bead embroidery). Use for bead embroidery, loomwork, off-loom beadwork and stringing.

Elastacord™ Bead Threader makes it easy to string and thread beads onto stretch cord. Ideal for making stretch bracelets, the looped bottom end catches the beads strung onto the 10-1/2 inch stainless steel needle while the threader hook lets you pull the cord back through the beads. Can be used on stretch cord, silk, nylon or cotton threads.

''J'' needle is specifically designed for use with the Speedy Stringer™. Twisted structure of needle provides an excellent grip for stringing beads quickly and efficiently.

Milliners needles are designed for use by professional milliners (hatmakers). Milliners' needles are similar to English beading needles, yet are longer with rounder eyes. Ideal for bead embroidery, off-loom beadweaving, loomed beadwork and other stitching projects.

Twisted beading needles are primarily used for stringing beads because they don't have a sharp point. Their large eyes are easy to thread, and collapse once you pass through the beads. Use for stringing.

The Wide-Eye Needle™ - (A "must-have" for beaders!) is the easiest needle to thread because the entire needle is an eye. Beaders love the silky smooth base, made of stainless steel with nickel plating. It easily glides through bead holes and will not rust. Dual end points allow for bi-directional beading. The Wide-Eye Needle is flexible yet strong and accommodates most thread types and bead sizes. It can be used for any style of beading or loom work. The colorful packaging with hang tab is reusable for convenient and reliable storage. The Igolochkoy™ needle is an extremely fine form of this needle, ideal for seed beading, pearling and gemstone beading. They are flexible, magnetic and long lasting with a light magnetic strength.

To use: Simply twist the needle or use your nail to open the "eye" and slide your thread through the opening.

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