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Bead Weaving ~ Materials

This page lists basic tools and supplies you'll need to begin beadweaving, as well as sources for purchasing beads and related materials.

Basic Equipment List

  • Beading Needles: The larger the number, the narrower the needle. Size 10 and 12 are the most popular for bead weaving. Size 13 and 15 can be used for extra small beads. "Big Eye" needles are easy to thread, but bend easily. They are not a good choice for small beads or when multiple passes through the same bead are required.

  • Beading Thread: The thread used for bead weaving is actually a special type of braided fishing line that is super strong, thin and won't stretch over time. Berkley Fireline 6 LB thread (smoke or clear color) is preferred. Wildfire or PowerPro 0.008” diameter are also good.

  • Beading Mat: Vellux foam sheets sold in bead stores, or simply us a dish towel or piece of felt.

  • Scissors: Small, sharp scissors or "Flush Cutter" tool.

  • Bead Scoop: Helps sort beads and get them back into containers. Available at bead stores.

  • Tape measure: To check the size of your work.

  • Thread burner (optional): Berkley Hot Line Cutter available at sporting goods stores. The multifilament braided thread is hard to cut and will ear out your scissors. A thread burner melts the thread instead of cutting it. The melted end also helps prevent raveling.

  • Thread Conditioner: Thread Heaven or beeswax is applied to thread to help prevent knots and tangling.

Color Theory

The document below includes a color wheel and a basic explaination of color theory which is useful in selecting bead combinations.

Color Theory Document

About Beads

Beads are available in a huge variety of shapes, sizes colors and materials. The bead pattern you are using should specify the size and type of beads needed.

Seed Beads

Glass seed beads are widely used in beadweaving.  The most common sizes are 8/0, 11/0 and 15/0. The larger the size number, the smaller the bead, since the size numbers refer to how many beads could be cut from an inch of glass tube. For many bead weaving projects, uniformity of bead size is critical.  The most uniform beads are Miyuki brand "Delica" beads, which are cylindrical in shape. Glass seed beads come in many shapes, including hexagonal, tubular, square, peanut, lentil, drop, as well as 2-hole shapes such as SuperDuos. Here is a link to an excellent short video that explains more about glass seed beads: 

Seed Bead Basics Video


Swarovski or other types of crystals can add a lot of sparkle to your design.  Crystals also come in a variety of shapes and colors.  They are sized in millimeters (mm).  The most commonly used crystal shapes are bicone and fire-polished round. Swarovski no longer makes crystals for beading, but Czech and Chinese crystals are widely available and hae improved in quality.

Pearls, Natural Stone, Wood Beads

Beads in these materials are also measured in millimeters and available in a wide variety of shapes and colors.