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Learn How to Do Beadwork - How Much Beading Thread Should I Use?

Teach Yourself How to Do Beadwork With These Beading Instructions


As both a student and teacher of beadwork, this question comes up very often. I've seen many beginners trying to do a beadwork project with such a short length of thread that they can't leave a long enough tail at the end of the thread. On the other hand, I've seen some beginning beaders grow frustrated very easily when using fifteen feet or more of beading thread, and then falling behind everyone else because they have to constantly stop and remove knots from their thread.

So the question is, how much beading thread should you use?

There are pros and cons to using both a shorter length and a longer length of beading thread, and I will detail them here for you:

Short Lengths of Beading Thread

  • Shorter lengths of beading thread don't tangle as easily or as often as longer lengths
  • Easier to handle - thread won't become wrapped around your foot, your table or anything else that is near your work area
  • If a piece of thread breaks, you'll have less to remove or repair
  • It might be easier to maintain your tension when using a shorter length of thread


  • You'll have to add more thread more often than if you were using a longer piece of thread if you are working on a larger project
  • Adding more thread means more tails to weave in at the end of the project, and more thread to fill up your bead holes

Long Lengths of Beading Thread:

  • Longer lengths of thread mean less new threads have to be added
  • Longer lengths of thread also mean less tails to weave in at the end of your project
  • You might want to consider using a longer length of thread when doing a stitch like African Helix where it is difficult to add new thread in the middle of the project


  • Longer lengths of thread will tangle easier than shorter lengths
  • Longer lengths of beading thread can be more difficult to handle - it can get tangled around your foot, your table, or something on the floor
  • If a thread breaks, you might have a large part of the beadwork that needs repair
  • Longer thread can make it more difficult to maintain your tension

The bottom line is that you need to figure out what's most comfortable for you when working on a piece of beadwork.

In general, though, starting each piece of beadwork with a length of thread about five feet long is a good way to start. It's long enough that you can establish a thread path and establish your tension (how tight or loose you are going to stitch) and then add shorter or longer lengths as you stitch.

Experiment with both short and long threads to see which one works best for you.

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