How to Measure Thread for Beading

Explanation of how much thread to use when beading. Also suggestions on the type of thread to use depending on the type of beading being done.


  1. Image titled Measure Thread for Beading Step 1
    Decide on the best type of thread or stringing material to use for the item.
    • If using small seed beads, go with a thread such as Silamide, Nymo, Superlon, C-Lon, PowerPro or WildFire.
      • Nymo thread is very flexible, and comes in many colors and weights (thicknesses).
      • Silamide is usually found in ash grey, smoke, or black (any of which will blend into the beadwork so it's not very noticeable).
      • Superlon and C-lon are available in assorted color packs, and have better durability than Nymo, but better drape than PowerPro.
    • Silk thread is a traditional material for stringing pearls, but has a tendency to tangle frequently.
    • If you will be stringing heavier beads, select something that can stand up to the abrasion and weight of the beads used. Consider Accuflex, Beadalon, SoftFlex or a similar multi-strand nylon-coated stringing material. All of these can be found at your local bead store and usually the people there can help you decide on the best choice for what you are working on.
  2. Image titled Measure Thread for Beading Step 2
    Use no more than an arm's length (doubled for thread). The reason for this, especially with thread, is that too much more will cause the thread to tangle more often which can be very frustrating.
    • With traditional bead-weaving, you will add new pieces of thread as necessary to continue your beadwork. (See "zig-zag" section of Do Peyote Stitch for one method of finishing off cord, which is the same method for adding new cord.)
    • With basic bead stringing, use approximately 4" more cord than the finished necklace or bracelet length. This allows enough extra cord at the ends for tying knots or other finishing methods.
      • For multi-strand necklaces, it is generally recommended to string each strand on a separate cord. This way, if one strand breaks, beads don't get lost from ALL the strands. Plus you can cut off the right length for each strand, reducing the likelihood of tangling. It can be more challenging to end multi-strand necklaces, so keep the cord for each strand 6-8" longer than the finished strand. This allows more room for tying larger or more-complicated knots.
    • With macrame, a good rule of thumb is to begin with 10x more cord than the length of the finished piece (this varies depending on the type of knotting).


  • You can use various thread conditioners to help with the tangling issue. Popular thread conditioners include beeswax and Thread Heaven. If tangling does happen (and it will), don't keep pulling trying to get it through; that just makes it worse. Instead, try to gently pull the thread back out from the opposite direction, untangle and then proceed. It is also a good idea every now and then to drop your needle end and let it untwist, as the more twisted it becomes the more it will tend to tangle on you.

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Categories: Beading