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Beading Basics


Published: 09/27/2010

by Diane Mugford


Here are some beading basics like threading the needle, finishing off the thread and starting a new thread. Also, some information about two different threads currently available. So, how do you thread that tiny needle? The first thing to remember when threading a beading needle is that you put the needle onto the thread. Don’t try to aim the thread through the eye of the needle. Here’s my method – I am right-handed – just use the other hand if you are left-handed.
1. Hold the thread in your left hand between thumb and index finger.
2. Pull the thread down so that it just disappears from view
3. With your right hand, line up the eye of the needle over the thread and push the needle down between your thumb and index finger.
4. The thread should “pop” into the eye and you needle will be threaded.

1. If it doesn’t work after a couple of tries, turn the needle over so the other side of the eye is down. One side of the eye of the needle is more open for the thread to go through.
2. If it still doesn’t work, cut the thread and try again. You need to have a sharp edge on the thread for it to go through the beading needle.

Joining, starting and ending threads
With beading we work with a very long thread – 3-4 feet long is not uncommon. Find the longest length of thread that you can work with comfortably. That is, it does not knot up or twist too much.

When you have about 6 inches of thread left, it is time to finish off and start the new thread. You need at least 6 inches to weave the thread through your beadwork to secure it.

The method I use is to:
• Join the new thread to the old thread
• Weave the tails from the old and new threads into the beadwork to secure
• Continue working with the new thread

Joining the new thread to the old thread
1. Leave your needle in the old or current working thread.
2. Make a “hangman’s” knot near the end of the new thread taking care that the shortest arm tightens up the noose. Be sure to keep the side of the noose parallel – don’t get the threads crossed up. See image 1.
3. Bring the needle and the old thread up into the noose and place the noose as close as possible to the last bead.
4. Carefully tighten the noose keeping the threads parallel and the old thread taught.
5. When you have the noose closed and as close as possible to the last bead, give it a tug. You should hear a “click” to indicate that the threads are knotted. Give a tug on the tails of the old and new threads – all should stay in place. See image 2.
6. You have successfully joined the new thread to the old thread.

Weaving the tails into your beadwork to secure
The method I use is to weave a bit away from the last worked bead, then go around a square of beads and pull the thread through the loop, then weave away a bit more. Some beaders like to use nail polish at the point where you joined the threads for extra security, but I have not found this necessary and don’t like the texture that is left by the nail polish, especially if working with matte finish beads.
1. Weave your thread through a few beads into your worked piece. Be careful to move from bead to bead. Don’t hop across a space to another bead.
2. Next weave through 4 beads that make up a square, but don’t pull the thread tight. Leave a bit of a loop between the first and second beads. When you get back to the first bead, take the thread through this loop and then through the second bead again and pull tight. This will secure your thread.
3. Weave your thread through a few more beads in your piece and then cut off any remaining thread.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the tail of the new thread. But go in a slightly different direction so you are not going through the same beads again.

Thread – some basic information
In this section, I will describe two types of threads that I use the most when beading with a needle. There are lots of other threads available and other materials you can use for stringing beads.

NYMO - Probably the most common bead thread you will find is “Nymo” it is a nylon thread and comes in many colours as well as black and white. Nymo has sizes A through D with D being the finest and A being a bit thicker and stronger. I tend to use size D for a project where I know I will need to go through a bead many times and size B when I will be going through a bead up to three times.

FIRELINE – This is a fine filament fishing line generally available at Canadian Tire. It comes in black and clear. I use clear as the black tends to wear off if you handle the thread a lot. Unlike other “fishing lines” you can easily thread Fireline into a beading needle and it holds a knot. Using Fireline, makes your piece a bit stiffer than if you use a nylon thread. This is most useful for three-dimensional objects.