What Beading Needle Should I Use?

Do you ever struggle to start a bead weaving project because you can’t figure out which beading needle you should use? Don’t let that issue stop you any longer! Here is a glossary of different types of beading needles, including what they are used for and why they’re each unique. For an extra bonus, I’ve even added a Q&A at the bottom of the page, answering on of the most common question related to beading needles, “What size needle should I use?”!

1. Beading Needles (shop for them here)
Beading needles are the most basic, commonly used needles in off-loom and loom bead weaving projects. They are longer than standard sewing needles, enabling you to string multiple seed beads and other beads. Because they’re longer, they also contain more flexibility and do not break easily. We carry two brands of beading needles, John James English Beading Needles and Pony Beading Needles. Which one you choose to use is a matter of preference. Beading needles are available in more sizes than any other needles that we carry, ranging from size 10 to 15 (the larger the number, the thinner the needle). All of our beading needles measure approximately 2″ long.

2. Sharp Beading Needles (shop for them here)
Sharp needles are not sharper than normal beading needles! They are in fact shorter than regular beading needles. The shorter length is less flexible and provides greater leverage for bead embroidery on fabric. Sharps are not recommended for off-loom and loom bead weaving, as beaders generally prefer longer, more flexible needles. Sharp needles are available in sizes 10, 11 and 12, and they all measure approximately 1.5″ long.

3. Big Eye Needle (shop for it here)
Made of 2 needles soldered together, the eye in the Big Eye Needle is in the middle and spans approximately 2 inches. The very large expanding eye allows ribbon, twine, yarn, and other large fibers to pass through easily. The Big Eye needle is a favorite of bead knitters and crocheters and it works perfectly with the Diva Cord Maker.

4. Twisted-Wire Needles (shop for them here)
When flexibility is essential, these thin, twisted-wire needles are the appropriate choice. Twisted-wire needles are ideal when stringing a wide but flexible stringing material such as thin ribbon through beads with a relatively small hole, crystals, crystal pearls or glass beads. Their flexibility makes twisted-wire needles especially suitable for passing through a bead with a curved hole. They are perfect for use in bead crochet and kumihimo. Twisted-wire needles are available in three sizes, fine, medium and heavy.

Q: What size beading needle should I use?
A: You should select a beading needle size based on the following three factors: the hole sizes in your beads, the thread size and the type of bead weaving stitch you plan on using. Here is a breakdown of each beading needle size and what thread, beads and techniques they are each appropriate to use with:

  1. Size 10 beading needles – Use size 10 beading needles with beading threads size D and smaller, and use with 15° seed beads or larger. This size is recommended for most off-loom bead weaving stitches (such as peyote, brick stitch and netting) and loom work. Size 10 may be too large if you are using a stitch that requires more than two passes of thread through the same bead, such as right angle weave or spiral rope.
  2. Size 12 beading needles – Size 12 is most commonly used beading needle size. Use size 12 beading needles with beading threads size D and smaller, and use with 15° seed beads or larger. This size is recommended for all off-loom bead weaving stitches and loom work.
  3. Size 13 beading needles – Use size 13 beading needles with beading threads size B and smaller, and use with 15° seed beads or larger. This size is recommended for all off-loom bead weaving stitches and loom work. Size 13 works well if you are using a stitch that requires more than two passes of thread through the same bead, such as right angle weave or spiral rope. Because they are so thin, these needles bend easily.
  4. Size 15 beading needles – Use size 15 beading needles with beading thread size AA, and with 15° seed beads or small antique seed beads. This size is recommended for all off-loom bead weaving stitches and loom work. Size 15 works well if you are using a stitch that requires more than two passes of thread through the same bead, such as right angle weave or spiral rope. Because they are so thin, these needles bend easily.

Happy Bead Weaving! – Sara

7 comments to What Beading Needle Should I Use?

  • Sue

    How about the needle for spinning size 15 beads??

  • John James #12 sharps are my favorites for freeform peyote. I find it easier to manage the angles with the shorter needles.

  • hILDA

    I can’t find the hole to the beadalon big eye beading needles. HELP

  • hILDA

    I found the hole to the needle thanks but I can’t seem to put the wire protector on with the needle is there a special needle to use…..

  • Diane Brickley

    Help! :) I am beading a gown with tiny 1.5 2.0 mm rice pearls. The drilled holes are very tiny. I need a very thin needle that I can sew and maneuver around other beads. Sugestions? Thank you!

  • FusionBeads.com

    Hi Diane!
    The thinnest beading needles we provide are both Beadsmith size 15 English beading needles and John James size 15 English beading needles. They are .25mm in width. Depending on the hole size for your rice pearls, these may work. I hope this is helpful.

    Fusion Beads
    Happy Beading!

  • Ina Erasmus

    Very thin needles to do beading work

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