Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tips and Tricks Tuesday

For my tips and tricks I want to go back to some basics....
Thread & Needles.
There are a lot of threads out there for beadweaving and everyone has their favorites...me? I'm a Fireline gal and here are some of the reasons.

When I work up flatwork designs....peyote pattern cuffs...I want the quality of the Delicas to really show so I choose a 4lb Fireline.  Strong but not stiff it brings your beads together to make a fabric with a beautiful drape that just feels incredibly rich to wear.  Don't lose that drape by using too heavy a thread!

Everyday Strength
For work that has crystals involved or needs a tight tension I choose 6lb Fireline which gives me that extra strength against those sharp little blingy things and the confidence to pull tight when I need to.  When working with beads a bit larger/heavier than seed beads this is definitely the thread I trust.

Body & Toughness
Sometimes you need to use a thread that gives your work a bit more body and that is one of the fabulous things about Fireline, it comes in LOTS of weights.
You may have to stop by your local fishing store (or WallieWorld) to get the heavier weights but I would definitely advise it when working with netting. Netting is just lovely but having large holes means it's easier to get caught on things so I tend to go with a heavier thread when working in this stitch.
A heavier weight thread will also add body/stiffness to the piece you're working on, so if you need it to stand on it's own try 8, 10 or even a 20lb thread.

At last we have a needle that doesn't go Uri Geller when you've worked a couple of pieces. The new Tulip needles definitely stand up against even the most bend inducing designs. Yes, the finish does chip so you'll have to decide what is most important to you but for me I like to have them for the tricky jobs so that I don't have to change my needle fifteen times a project.  I still keep my trusty Pony needles by my side in three different sizes.
Why different sizes?  For those times when I need to go through a bead just one more time annd my needle won't quite make it....I dig out a finer needle and presto I didn't break the bead!  Nothing worse than breaking a bead within a design...that's when you'll hear a lot of beaders scream :)
And while I think about it....different lengths. You will always find a short needle on my bead board because while I like working with a long, 2+", needle when you get to the end of your thread you use a lot up weaving in with a long needle. So I change it out for a short 1 1/4" needle which makes weaving in short ends so much easier! 


  1. Awesome points, Mikki! I love the way you've shown how the different weights of Fireline make a difference - and I am a diehard FL user! :)

  2. Excellent post! I generally use 6 lb weight fireline for everything, but after reading your points on using the 4 for flat peyote patterns, I think I'll try it. Sometimes they do get a bit stiff, esp. since I tend to be a tight beader.

  3. Thanks for that information! I was wondering about crystals and if they would wear away FL. I do have one question though - how do you thread anything larger than 6 pound test? I've taken to using the big eye needles and they are killing my fingers but I can't thread FL heavier than 6.

  4. Thanks :)
    Linda, with Fireline you have to flatten the end for threading. FL is basically a tube and when you cut it the end tends to be even bigger, run the end through your nails a couple of times. OR use a pair of flat nosed pliers.
    The Tulip needles do tend to have a decent sized hole and make for a lot easier threading. And as someone asked on FB you can find the Tulips at BelloModo.com, they are quite expensive but they last so much longer. Hope that helps :) Mikki

  5. Great post, Mikki. I just opened my first box of Tulip needles, and they are amazing. One lasted through an entire 3-day project, unheard of for me! Plus, they feel great in your hand.

  6. I like WildFire better than Fireline, mostly. It seems to hold tension better, and the black doesn't shed color like smoke Fireline. The only downside is that it doesn't come in larger spools. I'll have to try the Tulip needles, though. I'm always discarding bent or broken needles.

  7. Really useful & interesting post--I just found some 7# test but haven't tried it out yet.

  8. Thank you, Mikki. This was all so helpful. I really love the examples of your work, too! Beautiful beading!

  9. Beautiful Beading projects. Love the bracelet. Thank you for the tips on FL.

  10. Thank you for the wonderful information and posts on this blog. There is always so much to learn.
    -Eva Maria