Beading Thread

Natural and Synthetic Threads

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The term "thread" here is used interchangeably with "stringing materials".

Beading thread has uses in more areas than jewelry making. They can be used to string or sew beads into jewelry, accessories, and garments. Natural as well as synthetic threads are used as beading threads and each has its own specific qualities and features, and each are best for different beads and projects. If you are using thread to string beads, make sure that the beads' holes are smooth to avoid weakening and breakage of the thread from rough abrasions.


beeswaxYou can get beading thread in different sizes, colours, waxed (also called pre-waxed) and un-waxed. Waxed thread is less likely to break and fray.  It also glides through beads much more easily.  You can also use beeswax to thread your own threads.

Find out about the applications, sizes and types of bead threads.

Natural Thread

Silk, Linen, Cotton, Leather thongs, Hemp are amongst the most common and popular of natural stringing materials.  Even though hemp can be used for beading, it is generally reserved for chunkier designs, can be knotted and braided to great effect (e.g. as in macrame).

Silk and Linen threads are certainly not as strong as synthetic threads but they remain popular and have specific purposes for which they are traditionally and admirably suitable. These natural beading threads are available in different colours and sizes.

silk threadSilk Thread
Silk threads are used mostly for pearl, small mineral, or gem beads ~ especially those with small holes.  In fact, silk thread is the traditional thread for stringing pearl. It still remains very popular for stinging pearls as the other stringing materials can hurt the pearls.  But be aware that silk threads then to fray and stretch.  And silk will break down within 3-5 years hence anything strung with silk threads have to be restrung.

However, it is not advisable to use silk thread with glass beads.

Silk threads can come on cards, sometimes with a useful integral needle.  This is also described as "pre-threaded" which you may come across when you are looking to buy.  You can also buy them in spools.

Some known brands of silk threads are:

  • Gudebrod (best quality) - piled from pure Chinese long filament silk.  This is sold under the brand "Champion".
  • Griffin(good quality) - the most popular sizes are #0, #1, and #2 for use with pearls:
    size #4 and #6 for use with other kinds of beads
Linen Thread
Made of flax, linen thread is the strongest natural textile fiber. 

Cotton Cord
Waxed cotton cord can be very strong. Woven cords can can even be stronger than leather.

Synthetic Thread

Nylon, polyester, bonded nylon threads are all synthetic beading threads.
Synthetic threads are the modern way of bead stringing as they do not fray nor stretch as much. Polyester thread is usually used for beadwork that requires a needle.  Give yourself plenty of extra thread if you intend to weave or knot with these threads.

Some well known synthetic and nylon threads are:

  • Stringth -
  • C-Lon
  • Griffin
  • Silkon Bonded Nylon - can be used as an alternative to silk.  It has many of the qualities of silk - like supple drape, deep colours.  It is also strong and fray-resistant.
  • Kevlar - great for heavy beads.  Made from the same material as that in bullet-proof vests.  Easy to cut but difficult to break.  Usually only available in 2 colours - natural yellow, and dyed black.  Use Fisherman's knot with this as they hold the strongest.
  • Nymo - one of the most popular.  Very fine.  Can be used for delicate beadwork.  Is an extremely strong synthetic thread.

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