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Seed Beads
There is so much information to share when it comes to seed bead tips. What are those sizes? What needle do I need? How do I contain those little beads? We have answers to those questions and more. We also welcome your comments and the beading tips that have worked for you.
Sizing seed beads
Needle and thread chart
Customize your needles
Threading the needles
Stretching Thread
Thread Tension

Contain your Threads
Finishing Beadwork
Budget bead trays
Returning seed beads to tubes
Cleaning up spills
Seed bead finishes and abbreviations


Seed beads are measured in aughts
This can be confusing as we are used to inches and millimeters as our unit of measure. Aughts are the number of beads lined up side by side in a given space. A 6/0 bead means that you will get 6 beads in the space. 11/0 will be eleven beads in the same amount of space. So the smaller the number the bigger the bead, as it takes fewer beads to fill the space.
This chart will help you determine the number of seed beads per inch based on size. Remember that this is approzimate as there are differences between manufacturers, country of origin and finishes.
aught size mm diameter beads per inch
6/0 3.3 10
8/0 2.5 13
9/0 2.2 15
10/0 2.0 16
11/0 1.8 19
12/0 1.7 21
13/0 1.5 27
14/0 1.4 24
15/0 1.3 25
Delica 1.8 20

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Beading Needles & Threads
Information to help you choose the right needle and thread size for you beadweaving projects. This information is based on English beading needles Nymo thread.
Bead Size Thread Size Needle Size
8 or Larger F Size 10
10 D Size 10
11/0, 12/0, Delica B Size 12
13 and 14 O Size 13
15 and smaller OO Size 15
Beading needles are standard for beadweaving.
Sharps are shorter and stiffer for bead embroidery.

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Customize Your Needles
To prolong the life of your thread while beadweaving, snip off the end of the needle and file till blunt. This process helps you avoid catching and tearing the thread with the sharp end of the needle. Unless you are doing bead embroidery you don't need the piercing capability.

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Threading Your Needle
This is a challenge for many of us. Needle threaders tend to break the eye of beading needles, but if you follow these tips you will be successful. Start with good light, sharp scissors and magnifiers if needed. Let us know which tip worked for you!

Tip #1 Wet both the eye of the needle and the thread, choke up on the thread by pinching between the thumb and forefinger so just the tip of the thread shows and slip through the eye.

Tip #2 Mark the end of your thread with a sharpie marker, which will stiffen it just enough to glide through the eye of the needle.

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Pre-Stretching Thread
When you use Nymo (a brand of nylon beading thread) as your beading thread it must be pre-stretched. To do this, cut your working length of thread, take one end and about half the length and gently tug feeling the thread give. Do this several times. Move to the other half of thread and repeat. This process will help eliminate sagging threads, which can occur after you have finished your piece.

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Thread Tension
New beaders often have trouble controlling the tension of their thread. Too tight and the piece puckers, too loose and it sags. Solution: practice, watch as you go, and don?t be afraid to redo a section. Soon you can avoid these problems.

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Containing your threads
Use empty floss containers for your beading thread. The bobbin fits perfectly and allows you pull off as much as you want. It even has a built-in cutter!

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Finishing
The best way to finish off a piece of thread is to weave the thread back into the beadwork. However, sometimes the threads will loosen and show. To prevent this from happening you can singe the end of the thread with a flame, which can be tricky. Cut thread 1/4 inch from beads, put flame up to (but not on!) the thread, and it will ball up. If you are not comfortable with this method, trim the thread close to beads and put a small drop of clear nail polish on the end of the thread. This will prevent thread from shifting or unraveling. This is also the preferred method if there are children in the home. And, thanks for the compliment!

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Inexpensive Seed Bead Work Trays
Keep the tops to yogurt containers and use them to keep your seed bead colors organized while working on your project. Once you are done simply bend the lid in half to pour back into their tube or storage container. Be careful though, as the beads can fly if the lid snaps back in the process.


Jar Lid Bead Holders
Another handy recycling idea is to save the metal jar lids from baby food or drinks like Snapple and use them to separate your colors while you work. They are heavy enough not to flip and the waxy liner keeps the beads from rolling around.

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Returning Seed Beads to Tubes
If you use ceramic watercolor trays with multiple compartments for your beading projects you know how hard it is to get them back into their tubes without spilling into the other colors. The easiest way is to spill the beads onto your mat one color at a time and then scoop them up, either directly with your tube or with a metal bead scoop.

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Bead Spills in the Carpet
Cover the nozzle of your vacuum with a screen like pantyhose or window screen material. The beads will be sucked to the screen and when you stop the vacuum they will fall off. Be sure to have a bowl ready to catch the beads when they fall.
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 Seed Bead Finishes and Abbrevations
Agate resembles stone, multi-colored swirls
Aurora Borealis (AB) rainbow finish permanently applied to one side of the bead.
AB2X rainbow finish permanently applied to both sides of the bead.
Bronze deeper metallic color resembles bronze.
Ceylon transparent bead with a luster finish, sometimes called greasy
Copper Lined inside of bead is coated with copper.
Dyed transparent bead treated with dye to alter color; will fade.
Galvanized zinc plated coating, wears off easily.
Ghost Matte AB, trademarked by one supplier.
Gilt Lined gold color lining inside the bead.
Glow a colored luster finish on a transparent bead.
Gold Lined real gold lining inside the bc9f5edead.
Gold Luster a golden luster finish on a transparent bead.
Iris a metallic rainbow on an oraque bead; irridescent, looks like an oil slick.
Luster a pearlescent finish.
Mattec9f5ed frosted by acid etching of sand blasting to remove the shine.
Matte Rainbow (M/R) matted with a rainbow finish.
Metallic (MET) metal color sprayed on bead; may wear off.
Mottled a marbled effectr, looks like a sponged on finish.
Opal milky, semi-translucent finish.
Opaque (OP) solid color, no light passes through.
Painted color coated over an opaque bead.
Pearl luster finish on an opaque bead.
Plated metal plating over another surface.
Rainbow (R/B) AB coating over the entire surface to the bead.
Raku matte vitrail
Satin striated finish looks like satin
Semi-Matte partially matted.
Silky striated finsih looks like satin.
Silver Lined (S/L) transparent bead lined w/silver, looks metallic.
Supra Metallic baked on metallic coating, more durable than sprayed on coatings, looks matte.
Supra Pearl baked on pearl coating, looks matte.
Tortoise two transparent colors swirled together.
Transparent (Trans) a colored bead that light shines through clearly.
Vitrail silver coating with a rainbow on half the bead.
White Heart a dark tr ansparent or opaque bead with a white lining in the core of the bead.

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