Beading mistakes can put a damper on your hobby. Learn how to avoid these common errors.
Beading can be a fun and relaxing way to pass your time. You have an avenue with which to flex your creative muscles and you’ll have something pretty to show at the end (hopefully).
But, this activity is not quite so relaxing when things start to go wrong. For that reason, I’ve put together a list of six common beading mistakes to avoid.
6 Common Beading Mistakes
1. Using Too Much Beading Thread
If you’re just getting started beading, perhaps the idea of adding thread to beadwork terrifies you. It can seem scary, if you’re not used to doing it. In order to avoid adding thread, many people work with ridiculously long lengths. But, this just leads to more problems.
First, working with beading thread that’s too long can actually cause knots. The more you pull the thread through the beads, the more it crinkles. This makes it prone to tangling.
Learn How to Prevent Tangled Beading Thread.
Secondly, overly long beading thread gets caught on everything! Thread loves to wrap around anything that’s nearby from tools on your tabletop to any little crevices in the side of your wooden desk. (Ask me how I know.)
Finally, it actually takes longer to complete a beading project when working with a long piece of thread. The amount of time it will take you to pull that thread through the beads is just not worth it.
Work with a comfortable length of thread and add more when needed. You’ll get used to it over time and you’ll probably wonder what you were so worried about before.
2. Splitting Beading Thread
Beading thread is actually made up of several fibers woven together. When you accidentally pass your needle through the fibers, this splits the thread.
Split thread weakens your beadwork and makes it much more difficult to fix errors. In fact, that’s usually when people split their thread in the first place. Many times, I have taught classes and seen my students attempting to correct a mistake in their beadwork by stitching backwards. This is a big no-no!
The correct way to fix any mistake is to remove the beading needle from the thread and then, pull the thread out. When you do this you avoid splitting your beading thread.
As you progress with any beading project, pass your needle through the bead holes as far away as possible from previous stitch so you don’t inadvertently stitch through the thread.
3. Incorrect Thread Tension
Thread tension refers to how tight you are pulling the beading thread as you work. It affects how the finished piece of jewelry drapes.
Knowing the right thread tension comes with practice. You may find that frustrating (sorry!) but there’s just no getting around it. The best way to go about it is to just be gentle. Usually, if a particular pattern requires tight tension, the designer will let you know.
Beadwork that has tight thread tension may pucker or curl. When it’s too loose, the jewelry will be floppy and you may see a lot of thread in between the beads (although sometimes, this may be normal for some stitches).
It is impossible to correct tight thread tension once you’re done but you can actually reinforce loose thread and make it look better. So, always err on the side of loose when in doubt.
4. Using the Wrong Materials
All patterns should have a materials list. Some of them may have specific details that you should adhere to.
For example, don’t use 11/0 seed beads if 11/0 Delicas are listed. Substitutions may give your finished piece a very different look to what you expect.
If you can’t source a particular type of bead, don’t be afraid to ask the designer. They may not know for sure but they may be able to recommend another bead you can try or, at the very least, tell you where to purchase the materials.
5. Not Trying New Beading Techniques
There are so many beading stitches you can try. It’s almost overwhelming when you’re first getting started. You may attempt a few of the most popular ones and get comfortable with those but, there’s a whole beading world out there. Get out and explore it!
Sticking to the same stitches hinders your development. By trying new ones, you’ll expand your knowledge. Yes, you may find techniques you’re not fond of but you may also strike gold.
Here are some ways you can overcome your fear of beading tutorials.
6. Don’t Get In Over Your Head
It’s important to pay attention to the skill level you need to complete a beading project. This is one of the biggest beading mistakes I see people make.
Avoid beading patterns that are way too advanced for you. You’ll probably just end up getting frustrated and not completing it. There is the odd chance that the instructions may be so clear that you get through the tutorial with no problem but more often than not, that won’t be the case.
The tutorial creator may assume you have prior knowledge of the stitches used and may not include basic instructions.
I want you to enjoy beading and not end up being put off by it. So hopefully, you’ll now be able to avoid making any of these common beading mistakes. And, if you’ve already made a few of them, learn and move on!
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Linda Stephens says
I’m gonna try new beading projects as soon as I get my shoulder fixed. I have a torn rotator cuff.
Oh no! I hope you get better very soon!
Maria good morningthis is Corrie. I have a problem with beading needles is thete any spesific one y can sugest
Hi Corrie, you haven’t specified what the problem is that you’re having with beading needles. I typically use John James English beading needles, size 10 or 12.
I have been beading for longer than I care to remember so thought I knew just about everything that I needed. BUT…your note about thread length brought me to a complete stop. I have always used long thread because I hate having to tie off and rethread. But just as you rightly say, I also spend a lot of time trying to undo knots and kinks. I never compared the amount of time that I spend on those things and the time for tying. It was a real eye-opener and I will definitely start using shorter thread. Thanks for sharing the tip.
I’m glad you found that tip helpful. 🙂
Chris P. says
Thanks for this post! I’ve been beading for a few years now and THOUGHT I knew a lot. Every tip here is important and useful. (I also appreciate the “thread too long” info. Can’t say how many tangled threads I’ve snipped because I didn’t want to add a new length!!).
Hi, so many beaders make this mistake and it’s a simple one to avoid. Adding new thread seems intimidating so people avoid it but adding thread is not so bad. There a videos on YouTube and info on beading websites showing you how.