Thread is Cheaper Than Frustration and 4 More Thread Tips

"Thread is cheaper than frustration." That was some recent advice I received from Bead Expo Philadelphia instructor Liz Smith. I laughed when I read her email because it reminded me of when I started to learn beadweaving. Coming from the world of expensive beading wire, I was afraid of wasting thread so I used these ridiculously short pieces two and three inches long. I struggled to learn the various stitches until one day I used the exact amount of thread (something like 4 feet!) that a project recommended. I couldn't believe how much easier that made everything! That was a big lesson for me: don't be so afraid of wasting thread that you waste a lot of time!

Here are four more thread tips from Bead Fest Philadelphia instructors. Click on the instructor names for more information about them and their classes.

Preparing Your Thread

Many problems with thread can be avoided with a little preparation.

"Easy, breezy, quick and clean way to prepare your beading thread–simply take your working length and PULL it at full strength for a short moment. This slight stretching removes the thread "memory" to curl and provides a straighter fiber, causing far fewer tangles while you work. For those us who dislike the sensation of beeswax or thread conditioners on our fingers, this simple trick can reduce the potential for tangles significantly!"–Christina Vandervlist

At left: Triangles Bracelet by Debi Keir-Nicholson and Christina Vandervlist is being taught at Bead Expo Philadelphia.


Dottie's tip on knotting is useful for any type of stringing material whether you're knotting pearls on silk thread or stringing chunky plastic beads on ribbon. I use this tip all the time!

"To get that knot right next to the bead when stringing pearls or doing macrame, try this: Tie a loose overhand knot close to the bead. Insert a T pin or the point of an awl through the center of that knot. Grasp the cord and use the awl to push the loose knot down against the bead. Pull the knot tight around the awl point and pull the point out. Then give it one final push, holding it between your fingers, against the bead. Works every time!"–Dottie Hoeschen

Avoiding "Whiskers"

If you've ever had little bits of thread stick out of your beadwork instead of staying neatly tucked inside the beads, you'll want to try Liz's advice. Start by watching where you cut your thread. Liz recommends that you try not to cut the thread at the knot as "that is a weak spot where the thread could pull out."

"When nearing the end of your thread (and leave at least six inches to play with because thread is cheaper than frustration), make a few half-hitch knots between beads. You can also weave an X as you normally would end a thread. Then string three or four beads next to your last knot (following the thread path), dab a little clear nail polish on the thread, and pull the thread slowly through the beads. The idea is that the glue holds the thread inside the beads so that the whiskers don't pop out. After a few moments, zap the remaining thread. Later, if whiskers do emerge, just pat them gently with your zapper to melt them down."–Liz Smith

Double Crystal Cuff by Liz Smith is being taught at Bead Expo Philadelphia. 

Keep Pets Safe

When you've finished beading, make your cleanup quick and safe.

"Make sure to keep needles and all forms of beading thread away from your pets. Even a short length of a few inches of thread can be deadly. I always wrap leftover lengths of thread around two fingers and then cut the coil so the thread becomes harmless. It only takes a moment and can save your pet's life."–Judy Walker

How do you keep thread from tangling or fraying? What kind of thread works best? Share your tips on the website.

Coming This Week: On Wednesday, Jean Campbell will share the special meaning behind gemstones and on Friday, I'll share a free bead embroidery project.

Free Project Library Update: It's spring cleaning time!  We will be moving some of the older free projects (May 2007 and earlier) into the Project Store so that designers will be able to earn royalties on those designs in the future. Please take some time this week to download your favorite older projects from the Free Project Library.

Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.


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