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Beading Equipment

Beading Thread

At ThreadABead we mostly recommend only a small amount of brands of beading thread. Nymo, KO, Fireline and very occasionally Supplemax. Of course there are many, many more types of beading thread – but for our type of beading these threads are really all you need.

When beading it is essential that the thread can glide through the beads easily. Most beads are made from glass, and although they don’t feel sharp, the glass can be abrasive and damage your thread.

Some beading thread tends to be a pre-waxed so it glides smoothly through the beads. You can buy wax to smooth over a non waxed thread or restore wax to a thread. But this is something I rarely do myself. Pre waxed thread is so readily available in bead shops, and I find post wax application can be messy and leaves tiny bits of residue on the beads which is hard to remove and for me unslightly.

So let me tell you about the threads I use:

Nymo Thread

Slightly waxed and lightly twisted, this nylon thread is quite widely used in beadworking and beadweaving communities. Having said that it also gets a bad reputation with some beaders refusing to work with it. I am here to fight the corner of the humble Nymo thread!

Nymo comes in lots of different thicknesses, but for our type of beads we tend to always use size ‘D’ which seems to work well. I use Nymo off a cone. It is rumoured that the Nymo on cones and larger spools is of a better quality than the spools. However, I have never really noticed a huge difference in use and will use small spools when required. I find that 66 yard bobbins being small are more tightly wound and so the Nymo on these will kink more easily unless you give it a little stretch before starting. If you like you can add more wax to the thread to stiffen it – but I do not do this.

Nymo is great for draping, and has a small amount of stretch in it, so when creating smooth pieces of 3 dimensional beadwork, tassels and fringes it really excels.

Check out our tips section for advice on using Nymo thread Tip: Tips and Advice on Thread

Advantages Disadvantages
Cheap Frays and knots easily
Lots of Colour Choice Easy to split thread
Can be used in lots of genres of beading The tightly wound 66 yard bobbins are more difficult to work with

KO Thread

Like Nymo, KO is a pre-waxed nylon, however it is also abrasion and tangle-resistant. I find when working with the thread it lasts longer than Nymo. Despite being similar threads, there is a cost difference so I only reach for my KO thread when I know I need a thread to be a little less fray resistant, such as working with Brick Stitch.

I also find the colours that KO is available in to be personally much nicer than Nymo. Nymo colours I find to be a little dark compared to KO. For my bright cheerful beading I prefer a lighter colour of thread to keep my designs as colourful as they can be.

Advantages Disadvantages
Lots of colour choice More expensive than Nymo
Can be used in lots of genres of beading Easy to split thread
Abrasion and tangle resistant  

Fireline Thread

Fireline is a pre-waxed, braided cord consisting of gel-spun polyethylene which is known as the strongest fibre, per diameter, ever created. It’s an incredibly popular thread in the beading community, and its 4lb and 6lb versions are ideal for bead weaving with delcias. It does not fray easily, rarely knots and will last a very long time.

You might think, that sounds great … sign me up! Indeed there are beaders out there where Fireline is all they will use.

I am not of that opinion, as much as I like Fireline, I will only use it occasionally. Many of my designs are shaped 3D and I find Fireline can make a huge difference to the look and feel of the beadwork compared to threads like Nymo and KO. A piece beaded with Fireline will be much stiffer. As there is little to no give in the thread, I find that if I am looking for a smooth shape to my beadwork, Fireline can negatively affect the design – making it look jaggardy. Having said that, sometimes I can use the stiffness of the beadwork to create self-supporting shapes that are just not possible with Nymo and this is where Fireline excels.

Fireline does have some other considerations you need to think about. Firstly, you can undo rows of beadwork without it affecting the thread (which is not possible with Nymo) which is a great plus if not a little laborious. But if you need to cut out a section it is not easy at all. Fireline is a strong thread so you can't use your normal scissors to cut it as they will blunt. This is one of the main reasons I don’t bead with it a lot (that and cost) - as a designer I get through a lot of thread and need to chop and change my beadwork a lot. See our tip on how to cut Fireline here Tip: Cutting Thread

Advantages Disadvantages
Strong, not prone to fraying Not much colour choice
Doesn’t knot easily Need specialist scissors to cut it
Add stiffness to beadwork Expensive
  Difficult to undo large pieces of beadwork

Invisible Thread

I have a real love hate relationship with this thread; I love the results with it, I hate that its more difficult it is to use compared to other threads.

If you are working with transparent beads, all the above threads I have already mentioned can be seen through the beads and so affect the colour of the beads and the light that shows through them. This is when we turn to an invisible thread, which is a clear nylon.

For our designs, the brand Beadalon Supplemax (0.15mm) thread works the best, but I highly recommend you visit our tips section for help on how to bead with invisible thread Tip: Invisible Thread

Advantages Disadvantages
Invisible – thread does not show through Invisible – hard to see thread when you are working.
Gives beadwork a slighty stiffer feel to Nymo but softer feel than Fireline. Difficult to use
  Thread damages easily

Coloured Thread

Take a look in our thread section and you will see we have lots and lots of thread colours to use, but a lot of the time in my patterns I recommend using white. Why is this?

A lot of the designs I create use many colours, and we may be going from a light section to a dark section. If you use a colour thread that is darker than the bead you are beading you will find the thread colour will show through, and even on light opaque beads you will find it will dull the colour.

I only recommend a coloured thread when the piece uses a large section of colour and there is a chance some of the thread will be exposed due to the shaping of the piece. Most of the time I prefer to use white and risk seeing the occasional white thread between the beads, check out my tip for disguising white threads in beadwork here: Tip: Coloured Thread

My Recommendation

Firstly always see what the pattern itself recommends, if it recommends a thread like Nymo then always pick a thread that is not too disimilar to that style of thread, trust the designer. If they have beaded a design using the thread recommended you can be sure that your beadwork will look the same.

As I have already said I personally use Nymo on the cone. I am a designer and I get through a lot of thread when trying to come up with a new design or technique so I need a good all rounder that is not too expensive. The cone is the most cost effective solution for me, however you may not get through as much, so some of the smaller spools may be more appropriate. If money was no object I would use KO.

I only recommend other threads when it is essential to the design.

Nymo D 3 Oz Cone White 1584 Yards
$36.40
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Nymo D White Thread 66 Yards (x1)
$2.14
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Nymo Size D Mixture Pack of 10 Nymo Colours - Mix 1
$25.87
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KO Thread in White 55 Yards 01WH
$5.11
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KO Thread in White Size D 330 Yards
$31.68
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Fireline 6lb 50 Yards Crystal Clear Braided Bead Thread
$12.80
Fireline 4lb 50 Yards Crystal Clear Braided Bead Thread
$12.56
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