Commonly Used Beading Thread Types

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Thread is an integral part of any beading project because thread helps create a project's visual structure. These days, different types of thread are available for beadwork projects. Beading thread comes in different degrees of thickness, too, and some types of thread may be especially made for use with a specific type of bead. For instance, silk thread is best used for stringing pearls.

However, the most commonly used types of beading thread today are nylon and polyester. These two types of thread are widely used because of their durability. Nylon is widely considered to be one of the thinnest and strongest types of thread for beadwork.

The right type of thread to use for a particular beadwork project largely depends on the type of beads to be used. Beads that are large or heavy require the support of stronger and thicker types of thread. Small beads can be sufficiently supported by polyester or nylon thread. In some cases, metal beads must also be used with a specific thread type.

The best way to choose the right type of thread for your projects is to consider the qualities of the beads you'll be using. Do the beads have smooth or abrasive drill holes? Are the beads heavy or relatively light? This will help you pick the thread that suits the beads.

Thread made from nylon, polyester, or silk are said to be best for beads with smooth drill holes. Nylon thread comes in varying degrees of thickness, with 'extra fine' as the thinnest and 'heavy' as the thickest. Polyester thread also comes in tiny to very thick varieties. Polyester thread is considered to be best for beadwork projects that require the use of a needle.

Silk thread is a finer type of thread, but it comes in various degrees of thickness as well. However, some beading enthusiasts say that silk thread has a tendency to stretch or fray over time. This is why beaded jewelry made with silk thread may have to be restrung after a number of years. Aside from pearls, silk thread is also ideal for use with gem beads or mineral beads.

Thread made from nylon or polyester is also ideal for use with beads that have abrasive drill holes. These types of threads are strong enough to resist fraying or breakage. Waxed varieties of nylon thread and polyester thread are even more resistant to breakage. A variety of nylon thread called bonded nylon can even be used as an alternative to silk thread.

The heaviest and largest types of beads can be sufficiently supported by Kevlar thread. This type of thread is difficult to break, so it can be used even with rough-edged, heavy beads. Kevlar thread usually comes in only one degree of thickness and in only yellow or black colors.

Using these tips as a guide, you can easily pick the right thread to use for your beadwork projects. Many brands of beading threads are available today; prior to shopping, it's best to do your research on which brands are reliable.

Most types of threads are sold wound around cards or spools. It's best to maintain this packaging, but remember to keep the spools or cards of thread stored in dry places. Moisture can affect the color and quality of beading threads.

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Happy Beading,

-Tracy Miller

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