TIP: Solve tiny-beading problem

I have trouble with one thing when making my own costumes: BEADING.
The eye in the beading needles are SO small that I can’t thread them even with a “needle threader.”

I would prefer to use a heavier, sturdier thread, but that’s impossible. It takes me forever to get normal (usually cotton-covered polyester) thread into the tiny needle by my “shove-and-hope” method, but the bigger needles are too big to fit through the holes in the beads. Any suggestions would be appreciated.~ Jane


BEADS: Here’s where you can save yourself some hair-pulling. The beads with the smallest holes – the ones you’re probably using – are tubular bugle beads and round “rocaille” or seed beads.

Not all bugle beads are the same, though! Some are thicker and have a larger hole. Because you can use the larger beading needle and thread, they’re much easier to use.

needle_beads_72I wouldn’t use tiny bugles and tiny seed beads. Life is too short! By “tiny” I mean 1-1.5 millimeters thick. The larger bugles are 2 or 2.5 millimeters thick. Larger seed beads are 3 or 4 mm. (The illustration at left is larger than life size.)

LARGER BEADS mean less struggle with needles, and less time spent, since they cover the surface faster. The finest beadwork can only be appreciated from inches away, whereas the bolder beadwork is more visible from across a room. In fact, don’t be afraid to use really large beads up to a centimeter or a half-inch in diameter—this is trendy at the moment.

NEEDLES: There are several sizes of beading needles. If you can find the slightly larger size it’s a lot easier to use with different types of thread. A bead store surely should have them. I’ve gotten these at a fabric store clearly marked “Larger eye.” If you use the slightly larger beads, these will work fine.

THREAD: There’s disagreement among beaders about the best type of thread to use.

Beading floss is one option available at beading or craft shops (normally only comes in black and white). It comes in 5 or 6 different thicknesses, the smallest being quite fine. (I’ve heard of using dental floss instead, if you want mint green. It’s actually similar.)

Transparent nylon thread also comes in different thicknesses. It’s stiffer, so easier to thread through the needle, and doesn’t tangle, although more awkward to sew with, due to its stiffness.

Dual Duty Plus is fine thread for lightweight fabrics (wax it), or silk thread, or rayon thread; these come in all colors and fit through the smallest needle holes. Don’t use these to make heavy beaded fringe – they’re not strong enough, even doubled – use them for flatwork.

Dual Duty Buttonhole Thread is stronger than all-purpose thread.

Dual Duty Button & Craft Thread, which is thick, will work if your beads are larger, like round faceted beads.—Dina

Thanks so much for the advice. I will definitely focus on larger beads from now on! (I’m a Virgo and I think I’m too particular and nit-picky!) —Jane