As with most crafts, getting started on bead embroidery can seem daunting when you consider the huge variety of tools available on the market. But actually, bead embroidery does not require many special tools or supplies beyond the basics: scissors, needles and threads. But what qualities must they have?
Embroidery Scissors and Thread Cutters
Even the most experienced embroidery experts sometimes make stitching mistakes. In order to carefully fix them, it is very important to have high-quality professional tools such as scissors, thread cutters or seam rippers, which have the following qualities:
- First of all, quality. The blades have to be made of the highest quality stainless steel, so that the tool lasts longer, does not twist, does not break and, most importantly, does not dull during use.
- Secondly, ergonomics. The scissors should feel comfortable in your hand, be easy to handle, and ideally of a light weight. The thread cutter or the seam ripper has to be maneuverable and easy to use, without the risk of cutting the wrong stitch.
- Thirdly, security. Tools must be made so that the chance of accidental injury from them is minimal. They can’t have protruding edges and pointed ends, all metal edges must be perfectly finished.
- Fourth, storage convenience. It is good if your scissors, thread cutters and seam rippers have special covers for easy storage and transportation.
Varieties of Thread Cutting Tools
While you need to have larger scissors to cut your fabric down to size, you will additionally need smaller scissors that are incredibly sharp and pointed so that you can easily slide the tip of the scissors underneath your threads and clip them. But although your sharp pair of scissors will help, a simple seam ripper will offer you a more precise way to target individual threads because of its long pointed tip. It is always best to try different options to see what type of cutting tools are best suited for your work.
In bead embroidery, as in any other craft, we often have to cut the thread ends, and occasionally, snip out a mistake stitch or two. For these purposes, you can use regular scissors, but it is handy to have a pair of special embroidery scissors, called “storks”. These scissors got their name from their long, thin straight blades that make them look like storks. Apart from being functional, they also have a very original design as they are often made of golden materials and some models can even be decorated with gemstones. These embroidery scissors could make a great gift for someone passionate about embroidery.
Beading thread is what you will use to stitch your beads to the embroidery foundation. The quality of the thread is very important. It must be strong, but thin enough to easily pass through the needle, not easy to break and as inconspicuous as possible. Some beading projects might demand using a double thread or wax to protect against thread fraying, twisting and knotting. Double thread is really not necessary for bead embroidery. Instead of doubling you can always just use a stronger thread. And talking about wax, me personally I try to avoid, as I hate the feel of it and it can also stain the fabric.
For a beginner its always better to start with a shorter thread about 30-40cm long, but I just don’t like changing to a new thread every half an hour. This is why I prefer working with the longest length possible that I can handle in the span of my arms. Unfortunately, the longer the thread the more likely it will tangle, so really you have to find what works best for you.
Try to match the thread to the color of your beads and the pattern. Black thread is too dark and shows with most beads. This can be an advantage if you like the shadow of the thread to set off your colors or using a dark background pattern. White or beige colored thread is best suited for white or any other colored beads used on a multi-colored pattern. Keep in mind that dark or matching color threads can enhance, change, or completely gray out the transparent beads. The color of the thread will affect the color of any transparent bead in the piece you are working on. A dark thread may show through pale beads, but as a rule of thumb, a darker color will show less than a lighter color. What you have to be careful with are the colored threads, make sure you check the stability of the color before starting your embroidery.
There are also many different types and brands of the beading threads, with the most widely used being nylon / polyester thread or monofilament-type thread. Nylon “Nymo” and Polyester “Ariadna Tytan 100” beading threads are ones of the most used in bead embroidery. These threads are soft, strong and will not create large holes in the embroidery foundation. They come in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses to accommodate most beads. FireLine is a strong, heavy duty monofilament-type thread with little or no stretch, that I feel is not as good as the nylon / polyester thread due to being much harder and not very flexible.
Well-chosen beading thread will make your work easier and help achieve more effective results.
If you are already familiar with the different beads on the market, then you will know that the small seed beads are so tiny that they require a very fine piece of metal to fit through the hole without breaking the bead. Beading needles are thinner and more flexible than regular sewing needles and they remain the same width from point to end, this makes it easier to go through beads multiple times.
If talking about the length there is a choice of ‘long’ and ‘short’ beading needles. The long beading needles are called “longs” and are most often used for bead weaving and threading. These needles will allow you to thread large numbers of beads in one go and you also have a little more to hold as you work. But you may find that you prefer a shorter needle if you are trying to stitch through beads at an angle. Shorter needles are called “sharps” and are most often used for embroidering beads onto fabric. They are also great for tying off a project which has more limited thread left over and make it easier to create half-hitch knots.
Secondly, beading needles come in a choice of sizes. These are given as a number. The most common sizes used in bead embroidery are 10 and 12. The larger the number, the thinner the needle. Keep in mind that the thinner the needle the easier they can bend whilst beading, and once you bend it, you also weaken it. So bent needles can quickly become broken needles.
Thirdly, there are different styles of beading needles. If you are having troubles threading your needles, look out for the ones with larger holes. These are made of a very flexible metal and the eye is in the center of the needle rather than at one end. The eye has been elongated so that you can pry it open and this should make it easier to thread. Keep in mind that beading needles are so thin that they are easier to lose, and can sometimes break or bend. That is why it is always handy to have a pack of spares.
So now you have some great ideas of the embroidery tools to keep in your sewing kit. Many of these you may have already, saving money on setting up your new toolkit. And if you don’t, all these tools can be purchased in the corresponding section of our online store BeadEmbroideryArt, as we have prepared everything you need to start embroidering as soon as you can.SHOP OUR EMBROIDERY TOOLS