5 Things You Must Know When Using Beads in Cross Stitch

By: John Wigham


Beads can add a wonderful touch to your cross-stitch project. They bring dimension and beauty to any needlework. However, there are some things you need to know about beads so you can make sure they are appropriate for your project. There are also some tips you can use to ensure that cross stitching with beads is fun rather than frustrating.

1. Keep the Color Consistent
When working with beads you may wonder which floss to use, and you actually have a number of options depending on your design. You can match the floss to the color of the bead. You can also match the floss to the color of the fabric. Your third option is to purchase a special thread that is clear and designed specifically for attaching beads.

2. Use the Right Needle
Most of the beads you will use in your cross-stitch project are seed beads. These beads are very tiny and require a thinner needle. If your needle is too thick you will probably break a number of the glass beads. If you are using longer, bugle beads you can use a size10 beading needle.

These are long needles that allow you to string a number of beads on the needle at once. However, if poking yourself is an issue, use a size 10 tapestry needle. The ball-point will not stab you, but the needle is best for stitching on one bead at a time.

3. Use the Stitch That Works Best
When you stitch your bead on your fabric, you actually have a number of ways to stitch the bead depending on how you want it to lay on the fabric. For instance, if you want your bead to lie diagonally, you should use a half stitch. You would come up from the back of the fabric in the bottom, left corner, slip on the bead, and then bring the needle down through the top right corner.

However, you may also want your bead to lie vertically, so you would use a full cross-stitch. For a full stitch you will start like you would for beading on diagonal, but once you complete the half stitch, you bring the needle back up through the bottom, right corner, slip the needle through the bead again, and bring the needle down through the top, left corner.

4. Test Your Beads
Most of the beads you will use for your cross-stitch projects are glass beads where the color goes through the glass. Once in a while, though, you may like the look of another bead. You will need to check that bead to see if the color is in the glass or if it just has a coating on the outside of the bead. While the coating may look nice, it is not meant to last, and the color could chip off and ruin the effect of your project. Also, if you plan to wash your project, the beads will definitely lose the coating.

You can test the beads by putting them in your hands and rubbing your hands together. Check for flakes or pieces of color that come off. You can also put them into acid to see if the color comes off.

5. Check the Manufacturer's advice
For the most part, the glass beads you use can be washed and ironed. However, you should always check with the manufacturer first. Still, if you do choose to iron your project, remember that glass can get very hot. So you should always use a thick towel under the project. Put your cross-stitch face down on the towel and cover it with a cloth. Make sure your iron is set correctly for your fabric.

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John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.

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