When I first started bead weaving I went searching for recommendations for which bead weaving thread I should buy and although I found a few people mentioned which thread they used I didn’t find anywhere where I could compare the different threads available. Since then I have used a few different beading threads, with varying results.
So if you are looking or thinking about starting bead weaving I hope this post may help you a little bit decide which to buy, but please bear in mind, this is my personal opinion and based on my own experience with each of them, other people may have a different preference.
My first purchase of some bead weaving thread was Nymo, a nylon beading thread. This is probably the cheapest on the market and ideal for beginners and probably what most people start with.
Price: You can buy a spool (approx 64yrds/59metres) for as little as £1.00
Colours: The good thing about Nymo it comes in lots of colours, so you can buy the thread to match your beads.
Sizes: It comes in several different sizes, ranging from “OO” (thinnest) to “G” (thickest). The most commonly available sizes of Nymo are OO, O, B (Medium) and D.
I purchased Size B and Size D threads, both recommended to be used with seed beads and bugle beads as small as size 15/0. (Also good for looming).
I found this useful guide as to which thickness of thread to use with size beads and needle size.
Bead Size Thread Size Needle Size
8 or larger F Size 10
10 D Size 10
11/0, 12/0, Delica B Size 12
13 & 14 O Size 13
15 & Smaller OO Size 16 ”
My main issue with Nymo is it must be conditioned (with Beeswax or Thread Heaven) and stretched before using, which I only found out about after I had purchased a couple of spools! If you don’t do this, it can stretch and distort the shape of the finished work, I soon found this out with my first attempt at beading, I tried a peyote spiral and it was very ‘floppy’ and didn’t feel like it had any strength to it. Also it does have a tendency to fray if pierced with a needle or pulled through the beads lots of times and it’s not easy to un-tangle, especially when you need lots of thread, this can be very frustrating! It is however very easy to cut with embroidery scissors but be warned it can break if it becomes wet and it’s not conditioned properly.
I never got around to buying the conditioning wax to give it a proper go, I’m afraid I soon looked for something better and that’s when I discovered…
Beadalon WildFire is a thermally bonded bead weaving thread also known as gel-spun polyethylene threads. The most expensive thread I have used, but I have to say my favourite for its strength, stiffness and durability.
Price: It can be purchased in 50yrd or 125yrd reels, I have purchased the 50yrd reel for approx £7.30 and the 125yrd reel for approx £17.00
Colours: It is pretty limited in colours compared to Nymo, I have only found Frost (White), Black or Green. I tend to buy White and Black.
Sizes: So far I have only discovered two thicknesses .006″ (0.15mm) and .008″ (0.20mm), I have been using .006″ which I have found to be strong enough.
For most pieces I make I use Wildfire, it is very supple, does not fray or break easily and cannot be pierced with a needle. It’s easy to knot, I find it gives a good close/tight weave and there is no stretch, it’s also not that easy to cut, I tend to use my wire cutters, it’s that strong! I won’t say it doesn’t tangle, because it does, like most threads if you are dealing with long threads, but it is relatively easy to un-tangle. It’s also waterproof and you don’t have to condition it, but you can if you prefer (I don’t). I can’t recommend this enough and would say the expense is worth it.
After watching quite a few tutorials I noticed a lot of people recommended Fireline as a cheaper alternative to Wildfire as it is very similar, it is braided and bonded and strong. Mainly because Fireline can be bought in Fishing stores for a fraction of the cost, as it is used as fishing line. You can also buy Fireline branded as Bead Weaving thread from Jewellery supply stores, but although the same it is more expensive!
Price: I purchased a 125yd (114m) reel from an on-line fishing store for £10.
Colours: Again it is limited in colours, I purchased crystal (white), but you can also buy smoke and flame green
Sizes: Because it is fishing line it is measured in weight from 1lb to 60lb (ie. fish weight). I bought 10lb and it is certainly very strong.
The good points about Fireline is that it is very similar to Wildfire, in thickness, strength and durability but it is cheaper. However, the only issue I have with it is that it is probably not as flexible, I found when making some pieces with it, ie a Flat spiral weave bracelet or beaded ring, it didn’t pull as tightly as I would have liked and sometimes this would leave tiny gaps where you could still see the thread. I did wonder if this was just me, but as much as I tried I could not get it to improve, but when I made the same item with Wildfire I had no problems! I really should try it again but with a lower weight to see if that makes a difference. I still like using it though, especially for less intricate pieces and for bead weaving on the loom.
One negative point regards the smoke coloured Fireline thread, (I received this in error when I was ordering the crystal, but I thought I would try a little bit). I did find the colour started to come off it. I was using it on the beading loom over some tan suede cord and I noticed I was getting dark lines across the cord. I had to dampen a cloth and run the thread through it to stop this from happening. I don’t know if this is just a problem with the fishing line version?
I hope you found this information useful, if you already use any of these threads or use something different I would love to hear from you and what your own personal opinions/preferences are?