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I forgot: Thread Matters!

Textured Bead Blog

Take your beading to the next level with bead artist Linda Landy posts regularly about the techniques you need to create bead-embroidered works that are sculptural, three-dimensional, and very textured. Keep up with trends and new products in bead embroidery and bead weaving. 


I forgot: Thread Matters!

Linda Landy

I am presently working on a piece as a featured artist for the 2015 Toho Challenge. The beads are beautiful, but the shapes do not lend themselves well to my more "outside the lines" bead embroidery techniques. Let's be honest here. If you working on a "challenge" you want to do something extraordinary.

So, I found myself working on a peyote rope. It looked great but working on it was a nightmare. I couldn't understand why it was SO STIFF. At a party I mentioned to my dear bead buddy Myriam Ribenboim that I hated bead weaving and planned on sticking to my bead embroidery. I told her of my frustrations (and boredom) with the aforementioned rope.

"What thread are you using?" she asked. I immediately smacked myself in the head for breaking one of the rules that I have taught countless times. For textured bead embroidery I almost exclusively use Fireline. That's what was on my tray. I mindlessly picked it up and used it. No wonder it would not bend. There's no "give" in Fireline. If you bead weave with tight tension (in a bead crochet class guru Linda Lehman suggested I take a valium -- enough said) Fireline is not your choice for peyote stitch. If you bead with excessive tension, I recommend that you avoid Fireline for peyote stitch-- especially with cylinder beads. I can't tell you how many times I have broken a bead because the stitching was so tight.

I went home and switched to One-G with dramatically different results (still bored though).

While we are on the subject, here is a quick review on beading threads as they pertain to bead embroidery.

For years, beaders primarily used two threads which were originally manufactured for the upholstery industry. In the past few years as interest in bead weaving has skyrocketed, a number of new products have been introduced. These are a few that I currently use for bead embroidery. Try them out to see which one works for you.

 Nymo is one of the earliest beading threads and still in widespread use. The nylon beading thread is soft, strong and will not create large holes in the bead embroidery foundation. It comes in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses to accommodate most beads. Size D, especially strong and versatile, is the most commonly used and available thread. It is the only size I recommend for bead embroidery.

Toho One-G beading thread is a very silky smooth nylon thread with a beautiful drape available in 12 colors. Slightly thicker than a size B Nymo, it is easy to thread and can be used in all beadweaving applications. If you avoid working with long lengths of thread, you should have no trouble with fraying.

FireLine is a strong, flexible, heavy duty bead thread with little or no stretch.  Originally developed for fishermen, it is stiffer than nylon thread but will fit though the eye of a #12 Beading needle. FireLine has a textured but slippery surface-- which can sometimes create tension problems and make it difficult to knot securely. Spools of FireLine will display two numbers. Focus on the test strength. The most popular sizes for beaders are the four, six and eight. My favorite is eight pound, and I use ten for metal beads and crystals.

It is available from the manufacturer in smoke grey and crystal, but sells six pound test colored FireLine with an after-market coating in 12 colors. Fire Mountain sells it in crystal and smoke in a variety of weights plus pink, red, blaze orange and flame green in 10 pound test. I use colored Fireline when I am backing a piece. For a professional finish it is critical to match the thread to the ultra suede backing as closely as possible.

C - Lon beading thread is advertised to not need conditioning or stretching. It offers the drape and ease of the Nymo but with durability more in line with FireLine. C-lon comes in 36 delicious colors. It does not stretch — which can be a problem when you are working in certain applications like Peyote stitch using cylinder beads. The downside is its tendency to fray considerably in certain situations such as frequent removal of thread to correct mistakes.

In the future I hope to remember my own recommendations.

By the way, you can pick up a 2015 Toho Challenge kit at the Team TOHO booth at the Bead&Button Show in June. Check out previous challenges at the Toho website-- Toho Challenge.



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