Selecting the best thread for your beading projects can be tricky, especially since it can depend on the bead weaving stitch or the type of project you are making. There are lots of choices for thread material, thread size, needle size as well as thread conditioners. All of this can add up to a big headache for beginning beaders.
The size and type of thread you choose can influence:
- how easily your thread goes through the beads
- how many times you can put your thread through the beads
- how easily your thread will tangle or knot
- if you should condition your thread
- if your thread will stretch
- if your thread will fray and therefore how long your beadwork will last
- how well your thread will hold tension in your beadwork
- the best method for tying off your thread
- and there's probably more...
With so much riding on this, shouldn't you spend a little time to know about your beading thread options?
Nylon beading thread: Nylon beading thread is very popular and available in a variety of sizes and colors depending on the manufacturer. Nymo is one of the most popular. Other brands are SoNo, K.O., and Silamide.
In general, nylon thread is supple and has a small amount of give or stretch. Depending on the brand, it may benefit from using a thread conditioner or it may be pre-conditioned. Nylon threads are lightweight and can tangle so thread conditioner helps to prevent this. Thread conditioner also helps limit abrasion as the thread is pulled through the beads. Beeswax is a thread conditioner or there are specialty products available like Thread Magic. Nylon thread frays and it can be easy to split the thread when doing some stitches, like brick stitch. Thread tension tends to be a little looser with nylon beading thread vs. fishing line.
If it sounds like there's a lot of down side to nylon bead thread, there can be BUT there is no other thread that works as well when you need to make fringe. It makes soft, supple, flowing fringe like no fishing line can make. Other beadweaving stitches are also softer when made with nylon thread. And it's very economical.
One quick note about Nymo - the thread on the bobbin is different from the thread on the cone. My experience is that the bobbin thread is more prone to fraying
The most popular size nylon bead thread is size D. I compare it to ordering a size medium. It works for most situations.
Fishing Line threads: Fishing line types of thread are more expensive than nylon thread but they don't tangle as easily, hold tension well, do not need any conditioning and are very durable and strong. They come in limited colors, however. To me, they are perfect for beginning beaders, depending on the stitch (remember what I said about fringe above!)
The original fishing line that I know that was used for beadwork is mono-filament, a clear slippery thread, but there are many more options today - many braided and thermally bonded. Some fishing line used by beaders is distributed as a beading thread and a fishing line, so if you buy FireLine branded by BeadSmith as a beading thread, it is the same thread sold by Berkley as fishing line. It is usually cheaper to buy the fishing line.
FireLine is arguably the most popular fishing line thread. Other brands are WildFire, PowerPro, DandyLine, and a new one to me is NanoFil.
It is tough to pierce fishing line type thread and it doesn't fray. In fact, it is difficult to cut fishing lines and it can dull your thread scissors quickly - a cheap pair of kids scissors will work for this purpose. Fishing line thread colors are limited but the smoke gray available from FireLine seems to work with most color beads. (A quick update from the comments - there is dyed FireLine available from Sparkle Spot Bead Shop. I haven't tried it - but it may be in my future!)
Fishing line size is expressed in the number of pounds. Sizes often used in beadwork are 6 lb or 8 lb.
I'm going to start compiling more notes on which thread types are my favorite for which purposes, but for now, know that my go-to Nylon thread is Nymo on the cone in either tan or black in size D and FireLine in Smoke Gray, 6 lb or 8 lb.
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