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How to Choose the Right Type of Beading Thread For Your Project!

“What beading thread should I use?” This age-old question about bead weaving stumps many beginning bead weavers as well as some more advanced weavers. It’s not uncommon for people to first ask what size of thread they need for their project, but actually nearly all of the threads at FusionBeads.com will fit through even our smallest size 15 seed beads! We do carry very thin thread (Size OO Nymo, Size AA Superlon) and very thin beading needles (sizes 13-15), but they are intended mostly for projects that incorporate antique seed beads, which we don’t carry at FusionBeads.com. The real issue to worry about when choosing your thread is which type of thread to use, not which size. That’s why I have worked with some of FusionBeads.com’s finest bead weaving experts to come up with a list of important factors in a weaving project that can affect what type of beading thread you should use:

If your project includes sharp-edged beads, such as crystals, semi-precious stones or bugle beads…
You will want to use a thread with a very strong, durable fiber. FireLine Braided Bead Thread, made of gel-spun polythylene, is perfect for this. PowerPro Braided Bead Thread, a thread first created for the fishing industry, is another durable braided thread that will work well for sharp-edged beads. Both of these threads are highly durable when compared to fiber threads that can fray and tear when used with sharp-edged beads. Both FireLine and PowerPro can be difficult to cut, so make sure to use very sharp scissors on them. When you are weaving with sharp beads, make sure that you don’t rub the thread against the edges of the beads when you pull it through or the integrity of the thread can be compromised. If you are using sharp-edged beads on a project that will move or rub a lot, such as near the clasp on a bracelet, you will absolutely need to use one of the threads recommended otherwise you should make sure to pass your thread through the beads multiple times to reinforce the project.

If your thread will be visible when your project is finished, whether your beads are transparent or you are using right angle weave, square stitch, or another stitch with visible thread…
You will most likely want to use a clear beading thread, so your best bet is to use Crystal Clear FireLine, which does have a slightly milky white coloring. Sometimes you can use colored thread to accent your piece, which works especially well with transparent beads. If you want to use colored thread, you’ll find a huge selection of colors in the Nymo Nylon Thread, K.O. Beading Thread, Superlon Nylon Beading Thread and Silamide Nylon Thread. Each of these threads is made from nylon fiber, so you should treat them with a thread conditioner before use to avoid fraying and tangling.

If you want your project to be sculptural or hold a tight form…
Your best choice will be FireLine, because it creates a very stiff form and can be pulled to a tight tension very easily. You can use nearly any beading thread to create a sculptural piece as long as you are careful to keep the tension very tight as you work.

If you want your project to have a nice flexible drape…
Your best choice will be a fibrous thread, such as Nymo, K.O., Superlon or Silamide. Just as I mentioned that any piece can be created with tight form as long as the tension is tight, the opposite is also true. If you want to create a more flexible piece with a nice drape, your main concern will be keeping a consistent, loose tension as you work.

If your project is made with a basic weaving technique, such as flat peyote, netting, herringbone, etc…
We generally recommend FireLine, as it is used in most of our Inspiration pieces. However, many of these basic techniques which are made with seed beads do not require a very strong thread, so you can use any thread that you would like! The more bead weaving projects that you do, the more you will develop preferences for certain types of thread. Some people will only use FireLine or Nymo, some will swear by K.O. and some will tell you that Superlon is the only thread for them. Try these basic techniques with all different threads and find out which threads you prefer. It’s the perfect opportunity!

If your project is made with bead embroidery…
Again, you can use whichever thread you find that you prefer. We recommend that you use FireLine if you are using crystals or bugle beads with bead embroidery, but you do not need to adhere to this if you are using smoother-edged beads. Although I have mentioned that you should use thread conditioner when working with nylon thread, a lot of people choose not to do this when working with bead embroidery because they don’t like to get the conditioner on their fabrics and there is generally a lower chance of fraying on a piece that’s embroidered as it doesn’t usually rub on the skin or move a lot.

If you want to sew crystals onto fabric…
You should use a thread that matches the color of your fabric, rather than your beads. If you are using crystals, we recommend FireLine (as if you haven’t heard it enough!), but it only comes in clear, smoke or lime green colors. For all other beads or for smoother crystal sew-on stones, you can use whichever thread that you prefer in a suitable color.

If your project is made with a loom…
Your thread will show, so you will most likely want to use a thread that is available in a variety of colors. Loomwork is traditionally done with fiber threads as they produce a very nice drape. Try using Nymo, K.O., Superlon or Silamide.

Good Luck with your weaving projects! – Sara

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48 comments to How to Choose the Right Type of Beading Thread For Your Project!

  • tati

    What doesn’t stretch?

    I’ve been using Fireline to make some of the rings that are popular, with bezeled rivolis and such, but the ring band itself seems to stretch after awhile–all of a sudden, it’s slipping off my finger LOL

  • I was waiting to see your post on ‘looming’. You really don’t want to use a thread that can be seen. Usually I suggest to use the thread which best matches the over all color of your looming for the warps and always white for the weft. Here is a post I put in my Blog, last year, about this very thought, http://beadsbeadingbeaded.blogspot.com/2010/05/weft-is-bead-color-boss.html
    Also you can use just about any thread for looming, no just fibers, as you say. Looming too can have a drape or not! You can create some cool ruffling with certain thread, not mentioned here, but all you stated are great!

  • Thank you… the information you posted was so helpful.
    Have a wonderful day,
    Take care.

  • FusionBeads.com

    Tati, I would recommend that you continue to use FireLine for your woven rings, as it will stretch much less than most of the threads that are available at FusionBeads.com!

    Erin, thank you so much for that fantastic feedback about looming – you seem to be an expert and we really value your input! Great blog!

  • Cat

    Thread matters and finding out you’ve bought a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work is disappointing.

    You can’t find out that it’s crap until you’ve opened the package and once you’ve opened the package, you can’t return it.

    I’m fairly new to beading, but I will mention some of my experiences with threads for other folks who are new to beading.

    Nymo works well for seed bead projects that are woven flat and not something that will be stretched.

    I tried SuperLon and no matter how much I slathered it with Thread Heaven, I was having problems with fraying and with the needle cutting through the thread on multiple passes.

    Silamide is a more stable thread that doesn’t fray, but it is a coarser thread. It will work well with seed beads if you aren’t working through tiny little beads. It’s wonderful for pearls, especially if you want to knot them because you don’t have to fight the thread.

    Fireline works well for lots of projects, and Thread Heaven may or may not be needed. It will stretch, so you can pre-condition it by giving it a few tugs before weaving through beads.

    If you’re making rings, an elastic thread would allow for fit, but it’s difficult to make multiple passes with elastic thread and it’s difficult to make tight, secure knots, especially in a small project. I made a beautiful bracelet with very fine holes in the beads, so only two or three passes of thin elastic would work. Despite knotting in a couple of places and sealing knots, the elastic still came undone just from being stretched a few times.

    If your jewelry has a lot of weight or large beads, I’ve found the Soft-Flex in a 19-strand works well, as does a 10 or 12 lb. test Fireline.

    i hope this will be helpful to folks who are finding that some threads aren’t so heavenly – no matter what you do.

    Now then, if I can figure out how to work Peyote without wanting the throw the junk in the trash after the first couple of rows, I’ll be happy.

  • Sarah

    I always pre-stretch my nymo. Some people say you can pass it under a light bulb and pull it with your fingers, but i prefer to cut pieces in the length i will need and tie the bottom to say, a big junky glass bead, just something with a little weight, and hang it on a hanger until i am ready to use it. I haven’t had any problems with pieces stretching out since I have pre-stretched it. Just my two cents. :-)

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  • belinda

    what is the strongest strechy cord to use when making rings?

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  • Trish

    I have tried a bunch of different threads for making leather wrap bracelets and have had problems with the string breaking!! The only string that is strong enough seems to be the Power Pro but it doesn’t come in any other color than white…Ideally I would have it in Black & Brown also. Do you recommend the Superlon? I read that it is as strong as Power Pro? Any feedback welcome!!

  • Hi, I used to make Buddhist prayer beads called Juzu using .3mm & .35mm Clear Nylon string to thread various size of swarovski crystal beads but the nylon string seems to break after some time. I used the non-stretchable type brand Diamond. Can you recommend a Good strong brand which have the same size which I wanted.
    Thank you. Regards, Jenny

  • anita dash

    What is the best beading wire for swarovski beads.
    I am making necklaces for the holidays.

  • Crystal

    What is the best wire or thread to use for beaded lanyards. I’m a nurse and my lanyards need to be breakaway. I use beading wire and one of my lanyards is breaking at the crimp bead. The wire or thread needs to be durable for everyday wear. Any suggestions.

  • Laine B

    I am restoring my grandmother’s crocheted bead ropes that she made in the 1920′s. The cotton thread has rotted and the ropes are falling apart. Some of the seed beads are really tiny. They fit on Nymo size B (.008 diameter). The Nymo doesn’t work however because it isn’t braided or twisted so it is impossible to crochet.

    I want nylon so the thread doesn’t rot out again. Will the KO thread work? I’d like to use red with the beads. Thanks!!!

  • Jen Y

    Thanks so much for your website…most informative & helpful! My beading teacher is great but doesn’t believe in anything but bonded nylon thread which apparently come from Israel & Germany, but which I feel are inappropriate for bugle or crystal beads as I’m constantly getting fraying & breakages which frustrates the living day lights out of me!
    I’ve obviously read a bit about it & wonder if it’s just that they’re more expensive than the ones you recommend. I’m actually frustrated & confused!
    Can you tell me what you think about Wildfire as I’ve read a lot about this one being guaranteed not to break & to be super strong. Would you suggest this instead of Fireline etc. or is it just pure hype….the latest & best!
    I just need something I can trust as all of this joining & retreading slows me down on complex bead patterns. How good is Wildfire in joining by using the weaver’s knot or would you suggest a different technique?
    I would so appreciate ANY helpful comments!

  • Hello,
    Do you carry a durable bead thread for hand knotting. I make mala necklaces from round gemstones and handknot each bead. Using the silk bead cord, i get some fraying between beads. I tried bead reaming but the beads are now splitting in half. What do you sell that will hand knot easily and last a while.

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  • A.

    If you want true information about ANY cord go to
    http://www.store.jewelsinfiber.com. If you have any questions she will get back to you usually within the next day. I have been doing this for a while and always end up back there for my cord. NO I do NOT work for her.

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  • nancy dela Roca

    What is the most durable elastic white clear thread for making a pearl rosary bracelet. .8 -1mm

  • Bridget

    I make wrap bracelets with mostly 6mm pearls, Swarovski crystals and glass beads. I have been using Fireline for about two years and double the thread when going thru each bead but in some cases my bracelets are still breaking (of course after wear for a while) it looks like the thread is snapping on the top of the leather after going thur the bead. I sometimes coat the leather with a leather glue so that the firleine has less movement. Does any one have any suggestions or can recommend a solution. I hate sending out products and then getting a phone call months later it is broke. (ps fireline is much better then the Nymo for this product). thanks!

  • Liza

    Would also like to know the best threading material for wrap bracelets/6 mm glass and gemstone beads. Have used Silamide…passing through the bead four times for a tight weave, but am concerned that it will break after some wear. Would love to have suggestions.

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    Hi can I use fireline 8 lb for lanyards?

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  • I AM IN TROUBLE & don’t know where to begin. I went on a trip for a head break, had a friend sit my home. First, being an entrepreneur, & planning to start an “at home” business with classes. I ordered millions of jewelry pieces, beads, calligraphy, tools – etc. etc. etc materials. My friend starting sorting, what I call “my space office”, by separating everything out of the bags, boxes, & trays. To her, the room looked like a desaster, BUT, I had all organized the way I was going to put it on the walls, floors, containers, & so on. She removed price tags, wrappings, names, so needless to say, I was horrified (I didn’t have the heart to tell her). Do you have a way to help me find out the difference in seed beads, thread, findings, real or fake stones? Am I up a creek without a paddle?

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    Hi, im making a collection of fashion fabrics with mainly bead embroidery, what kind of thread is best for this?

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