Maintaining the right tension can make or literally break a piece of bead weaving. Too much tension makes the project inflexible, distorts the finished shape or even cracks your beads. Tension that’s too loose means exposed threads and a floppy piece of bead weaving. Today’s tips will help you create the ideal tension in your work!
I’ve been working on our Sparkling Nights Earring Inspiration Project, a right angle weave (RAW) piece where having the correct tension is essential. And, because of their shape, bicones beads will interlock in this stitch, making it extra easy for me to check my tension as I weave! When the tension is correct I can see the edges of my bicones almost touching. When it’s too loose I see extra thread and when it’s too tight there’s not enough space for the beads, making them scrunch up against each other. It’s easy to tell the difference between a piece where I haven’t paid attention to my tension and one where I’ve been checking it regularly!
I tighten my thread in the first row of a project from the tail and the working end of the thread to make sure I get off to a good start. Checking my tension every few stitches helps me stay on the right track and lets me adjust my tension as needed. Try gently tugging your thread after each stitch to take up any slack. Your beads should fit close together, but not so tight that the weaving puckers. Don’t forget to look at your whole piece of bead weaving, not just the last few stitches, to make sure the tension is even throughout your work!
Using the right length of thread will also help you maintain your tension. I like working with about 3-5 feet of thread at a time. It’s not so short that I’m constantly adding new thread and not too long to keep tension on it as I weave. The more bead weaving projects you complete, the more familiar you’ll become with what the right amount of tension is for you!
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen