Seed Bead Q and A
This excellent jewelry making Q&A will teach you everything you always wanted to know about seed beads. Topics include: types of seed beads, numerical bead sizes, off loom bead weaving stitches, silver and gold lined seed beads, bead embroidery, cube beads, triangle beads, bugle beads, and over 15 downloadable graph paper templates to make your own peyote, brick, herringbone, and right angle weave designs.
2. What are seed beads?
Seed beads are tiny pieces of glass cane tubes that have been heated until they are smooth. Available in hundreds of colors and many finishes, they are the "paint" of your loom and off-loom beadwork. Seed beads are sized by number - the higher the number, the smaller the bead. For example, 15º seed beads are smaller than 8º. Most seed beads commonly in use today are manufactured in Japan and the Czech Republic. Japanese seed beads are generally more consistent in shape and have larger holes than Czech seed beads, allowing more passes of thread. Our Japanese seed beads are manufactured by Toho, Miyuki and Matsuno.
3. What are Delica beads?
Manufactured by Miyuki of Japan, Delica is the brand name for cylindrical glass seed beads that are known for their consistency in size and shape and wide color range. FusionBeads.com carries Delica beads in size 15, 11, 10 and 8. Please see our Delica Size Chart for details on sizing.
4. What do the numerical sizes on seed beads mean? Are they consistent among all seed beads?
The numerical sizes on seed beads are useful for comparing relative seed bead sizes. The larger the bead, the smaller the number – for example, 8º seed beads are larger than 15º beads. What makes this tricky is that different manufacturers may use different standards for measuring the beads they make. Czech glass seed bead sizes were originally termed “aught” (identified by the symbol °). The term "aught" referred to how many beads could fit into a standard unit. In recent years, the Japanese have begun producing seed beads with greater accuracy, and the “aught” system is no longer applicable. The term aught, however, remains. In general, 11º Czech seed beads are slightly smaller than 11º Japanese seed beads. Sizing among Japanese seed beads is more consistent than sizing among Czech seed beads, but even among Japanese seed bead manufacturers, beads with the same numerical designation may differ slightly in size. If consistency is important to your design, you may want to consider using Delica brand seed beads. Delica beads are cylindrical seed beads that are beautifully consistent in size and shape.
5. How do hanks of seed beads compare in quantity to your seed beads in bags?
Seed beads sold in hanks are usually Czech, while seed beads sold in tubes or bags are Japanese. Seed bead hanks can vary widely in quantity. In general, an average hank of 11º seed beads contains about 40 grams of seed beads. Our Japanese seed beads come in 10-gram bags.
6. What are off-loom bead weaving stitches?
Off-loom bead weaving stitches are used to stitch seed beads and other beads together with a needle and thread instead of a loom. Some of the most popular off-loom stitches are peyote (also known as gourd) stitch, square stitch, brick (also known as Comanche) stitch, right-angle weave, herringbone (also known as Ndebele) stitch, and netting. For more information on off-loom bead weaving stitches, please see our great selection of books, such as Creative Bead Weaving by Carol Wilcox Wells or Mastering Beadwork: A Comprehensive Guide to Off Loom Techniques by Carol Huber Cypher.
7. What type of silver are the silver lined seed beads lined with?
The silver lining is silver plated.
8. What are metal seed beads made out of? Are they the same size as glass seed beads?
Our metal seed beads are made from brass, which is then plated with a variety of metal finishes. Metal seed beads tend to be approximately the same size as glass seed beads, both in diameter and hole size. The biggest difference between the two is the weight of the beads; there are less metal seed beads in a 10 gram bag than glass seed beads, since the metal seed beads are heavier.
9. What is bead weaving on a loom?
Weaving beads on a loom is an easy way to follow a charted pattern and make a strip of beadwork using seed beads. Some traditional Native American bead weaving is done on a loom, as well as contemporary bead weaving. A helpful book about loom weaving is Beading on a Loom by Don Pierce.
10. What kinds of clasps are appropriate for fastening jewelry made of bead woven seed beads – for example, a flat peyote bracelet?
There are several options to choose from when deciding on a clasp. One popular way to fasten a seed beadwork bracelet is to use a relatively flat button. Among our favorites are Swarovski crystal buttons. These low-profile, lightweight buttons add an elegant sparkle to a flat beadwork bracelet without making it overly chunky or heavy. Another favorite clasp for seed beadwork is a multi-strand sterling silver or gold-filled Tube bar clasp. Tube bar clasps bring together the two ends of your bracelet with a nearly seamless join. Choose a clasp that is about as long as your bracelet is wide. An ever-popular alternative is to simply use a large bead as a button. Rondelle-shaped beads seem to work best, such as the wonderful selection of Czech lampworked rondelle beads we offer. Regardless of the type of clasp, button or bead you choose as a bracelet fastener, be sure to sew the piece on securely and reinforce the attachment with several passes of thread.
11. Can I use a clasp such as a toggle or lobster claw to fasten bead woven jewelry?
Toggles or lobster claws are excellent clasps for bead woven jewelry. To reduce contact between the metal clasp and the thread (and therefore reduce the possibility of abrasion), string about 5 - 7 11° or 15° seed beads (or as many as will fit around the loop in the clasp) and form a ring around the clasp loop. Reinforce by passing back through the seed beads several times, and secure with knots within the bead weaving.
12. What are beeswax and Thread Heaven thread conditioner?
Both beeswax (natural or synthetic) and Thread Heaven thread conditioner can help protect threads from fraying and reduce unwanted knotting. Beeswax, which is stickier than Thread Heaven, is especially effective when stitching with a double thread to keep the two thread strands together.
13. What is bead embroidery?
Bead embroidery (also sometimes referred to as bead appliqué) is stitching beads onto fabric. Beads can be used to embellish fabric by incorporating them into any traditional or freeform embroidery stitch. For more information on bead embroidery, please see Beaded Embellishments: Techniques and Designs for Embroidering on Cloth, a book by Amy C. Clark and Robin Atkins.
14. What kinds of seed beads can I use when I use the Diva Cord Maker or kumihimo disk, or when crocheting or knitting with beads? I’m having difficulty finding beads that fit onto yarn.
Larger seed beads such as size 6 and size 6 hex beads may be appropriate for stringing onto yarn or cord as long as the fiber is not too bulky. Size 8 beads can be used with sport weight or lighter weight yarns. We recommend using a Big Eye needle to string beads onto yarn. Made of two needles soldered together, the eye in the Big Eye Needle is in the middle. The large expanding eye allows twine, yarn and other large fibers to pass through easily. If you have difficulty getting the needle and fiber through beads, try making a self-needle with nail polish: first, cut the fiber at an angle, creating a narrow tip on the end. Apply several coats of nail polish to the angled tip of yarn, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. The tip will be stiff enough to thread through most bead holes easily. Cut off the polished tip after you have finished stringing the beads and before you begin kumihimo, braiding, knitting or crocheting.
15. What is a Tila Seed Bead?
Tila beads are an exciting innovation in seed beads: tiny squares drilled with double holes! Their unique shape and hole configuration result in creative jewelry designs. Because of their special shape and construction, Tila beads have thinner walls than most seed beads, making them somewhat fragile. To avoid breakage before they have been woven or strung, please handle these beads with care and avoid spilling them from the bag onto a hard surface. The manufacturer recommends spilling Tila beads onto a fabric or padded surface.
16. What is the difference between peanut seed beads and berry seed beads?
Miyuki berry seed beads measure 2.5x4.5mm and are slightly larger than peanut seed beads, which measure 2x4mm. Both seed beads feature a similar modular shape, but the berry seed beads are perfectly uniform in size and shape, where there may be some size/shape variation in the peanut seed beads.
17. Round Seed Bead Quantity Chart
|11° Takumi Large Hole Round Seed Beads by Toho||1330||1.3mm||1mm||26|
18. Metal Round Seed Bead Quantity Chart
19. Delica Quantity Chart
20. Cube Seed Bead Quantity Chart
21. Bugle Bead Quantity Chart
|30mm||Per 10 Gram Bag: 38||30mm||1mm||1|
|12mm||Per 5 Gram Bag: 90||12mm||0.6mm||2.5|
|6mm||Per 10 Gram Bag: 340||6mm||0.6mm||4.5|
|3mm||Per 10 Gram Bag: 1018||3mm||0.6mm||8|
22. Triangle Seed Bead Quantity Chart
23. Hex Seed Bead Quantity Chart
24. Drop and Magatama Seed Bead Quantity Chart
|3x5.5mm Long Drops||150||3x5.5mm||0.8mm||16|
|4x7mm Long Magatama||87||4x7mm||1mm||10|
25. Peanut, Berry, Cut and Tila Seed Bead Quantity Chart
26. Czech Seed Bead Quantity Chart