July 24, 2020

Best Thread for Beading

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...
Your thread choice and the colors it is available in will even affect the color of your beads! 

With so much riding on this, shouldn't you spend a little time to know about your beading thread options?

Beading thread falls into two broad categories: nylon thread and fishing-line type of thread.

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. 

Nymo Thread for Beading

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.

Thread Conditioners for Beading

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!)

FireLine beading thread

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.

PowerPro beading thread

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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8 comments:

  1. Does it bother you when the smoke color from the Fireline comes off on your fingers? I agree it shows up less than the crystal for most applications but I just can't take the gray stuff on my hands. I usually use the 4 lb crystal Fireline because it fits through a size 12 needle really easily and for some reason, size 12 is my strong preference for needle size (perhaps an odd thing to have an opinion about?).

    I bought so many of the little spools of Nymo in the late 1990s when I started beading and I still have them...I like the Toho OneG a little more than Nymo and I need to try some more weights of the Miyuki Duraline because the first one I bought was too flimsy for my liking.

    I find Nanofil and Wildfire pretty similar to Fireline but had not heard of DynaLine before. I have some PowerPro but haven't gotten around to using it yet.

    Sorry to write a comment this length, I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately and don't know anyone in my day-to-day life who has the least bit of interest in such things.

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    1. I haven't often had the problem with the smoke color fireline. Maybe it depends on the roll or the environment (i.e. humidity or something?). I have had it happen once or twice and then I just wipe down the thread with a tissue or rag - not much more work than dragging the nylon thread through a conditioner.
      I like a size 12 needle too - although I am trying some different ones of those too. I thought Tulip needles were the only ones, but I used a John James size 12 this week and I loved the little bit of give it had when I was brick stitching. But I know they break much easier than Tulips.
      I'm happy for your in-depth reply. I like to consider other beader's thoughts and experiences and know about threads I haven't tried yet.

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    2. I have snapped quite a few John James needles. Like more than 10. So, I stick with Tulip, which I have not broken. I may have spent $$$$ with Fire Mountain so I get Platinum Partner pricing and it's not too bad to add a pack or two of needles to other orders.

      I probably still have all the Nymo because I don't like using thread conditioner although I admit it helps a lot. I am using it lately to make some peyote samples for a project I have in mind.

      For some reason after I use the smoke Fireline it looks like I have been reading a cheaply-printed newspaper all day. Maybe it is something about the combination of humidity where I live and the condition of the skin on my hands.

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  2. Great article and feedback - I remain in a state of confusion for just about ANY project that requires beading thread...so find both very helpful. (Can't wait until I figure out what size bead cap/crimp ends to use with what size leather cord, for that matter!)

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    1. Thank you - it's great to know what else you are having problems with. I have lots of leather cord and haven't done much with it yet. And also lots of pretty crimp endings. I'll make a note and maybe tackle it on vacation next month.

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  3. I've been using the dyed FireLine sold by www.sparklespot.com. The owner worked with a chemist to come up with 12 different colors, including Azure, Grape and Cherry. Some of the color dyes are more colorfast than others, but I've had pretty good luck with them. I love the durability of Fireline, I don't have to worry about a piece breaking. I made a bracelet with seven component pieces that I connected using Nymo thread. I made several passes through each connection, but one connection starting coming apart after just a half dozen times wearing the bracelet.

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  4. Thank you for the link to colored FireLine! Wow! That almost blew my budget as I immediately wanted the 12 color super pack. I'm going to restrain myself at least temporarily until I try some of the other colored thread to decide how much of a difference it makes. I'll add the link in the main article so others know about it.

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  5. Hi, Lisa, I work with Fire Line the most. My favorite is 6# crystal. The smoke color does rub off on my hands and I have had it stain the inside of light color beads. I live in FL, though, with high humidity. The black satin FL is nice, too, and I try to avoid the smoke at all costs. For brick stitch fringe earrings, I use 6# FL on top and make the fringe with KO. Hana thread works well for bead embroidery. I love thread and cord and just like to experiment and use what calls for my 'next' project. Thank you for the blog post.

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