Beading is the art of using beads to decorate clothing, create art, or make custom jewellery. Upon learning the craft, a novice beading enthusiast may get the impression that a needle is a needle, and those used in standard sewing projects can be used for any other application. However, when it comes to the art of beading, there is a vast difference between beading needles and sewing needles. In fact, beading custom pieces of jewellery requires a specific set of tools. Knowing which tools to use is a key component in ensuring projects run smoothly from beginning to end.
Anyone new to the craft of beading should learn which types of beading needles are right for each specific task to ensure that projects are completed with both speed and efficiency. There are three major types of needles, and understanding the differences between each helps crafters make the best purchase for their project.
Select Beading Needles by Project Type
There are four basic types of beading needles used in this craft. Which type is needed for a specific job depends on the type of beads that are being used, as well as the beading medium. Basic beading needles are longer and more flexible than the standard needles used for sewing. Generally thinner, too, they can be used for beads of any size, including the often hard to string seed beads. The basic needle is the tool of choice for stringing beads onto threads and wires for jewellery making, in addition to beading fabrics on a loom.
Sharp beading needles, which are shorter than their basic counterparts, are commonly used for off-loom projects. Coupled with the short length, their lower level flexibility reduces the chance of snagging the fabric on a garment.
Big eye needles are used for beading on media that do not generally fit onto a standard or short needle, such as ribbon or yarn. Before using this type of needle, crafters should make sure the beads being used fit over the eyes or thread holes. Otherwise, the beads can not make their way onto the ribbon or the yarn. Plastic versions of big eye needles are often included in children's beading craft kits, and paired with larger beads, such as pony beads. This is done so kids, who are naturally less skilled and steady with their hands, can work on beading projects without the threat of injury from a sharp needle. They are also used by adults in certain instances. This type of needle is limited to certain types of projects as smaller beads do not fit the eye.
Twisted wire needles are another type of beading needle. Crafters typically depend on this variation when the project calls for greater flexibility in the needle. Twisted wire needles are popular with crafters who work with a lot of seed beads, which are known for being curved or offset in the centre. These needles have wider tips that can damage more delicate types of fabric and therefore, are rarely used in projects that involve beading fabric off the loom.
Choose Beading Needles by Size
With the exception of twisted wire needles, beading needles are available in a variety of sizes. Each size needle is assigned a specific number, with a higher number corresponding to a smaller needle. For instance, a size 12 is smaller than a size 10.
Size 10 and 13 Beading Needles
Size 10 and 13 beading needles are designed to pair with specific sizes of thread. Size 10 needles, for instance, work best with thread that is size D or smaller. Size 13 needles are recommended for thread that is size AA or thinner. Buyers should note that size 13 needles are extremely thin, and are therefore susceptible to bending and breaking. In fact, using this size needle is not recommended unless it is absolutely required by the project at hand.
Size 12 and 15 Beading Needles
The size 12 needle, widely viewed as the most common size, is used for a wide range of projects, including those based on and off loom. If a crafter is working with antique seed beads, or micro beads, then a size 15 is an ideal choice for the project. Size 15 needles are smaller and thinner than other needles, so they are typically a better option when smaller beads are involved.
There are other situations in which a size 15 needle is a better choice than a size 12 needle. For example, if the project involves beads with multiple anchor points, as can be the case with larger pieces, or if the beads are complexly arranged on an article of clothing, a size 15 needle is usually the best tool for the job. There are several types of specialty beads which require size 15 needles. Due to their smaller size, size 15 needles create smaller holes in the fabric, thus decreasing the chance of damaging the fabric.
Twisted Wire Needles
Twisted wire needles are not sized in the same manner as other beading needles. Instead, they come only in three different sizes: fine, medium, and heavy. These three sizes refer to the thickness and flexibility of each needle. However, their differences are minimal, on first glance. The fine size, sometimes referred to as a soft touch beading needle, is the thinnest and most flexible of the twisted wire variety, though it is prone to bending or breaking if used with heavier glass or metal beads. The heavy size is the least flexible in this family of beading needles, but is still significantly more flexible than standard needles. It is best used for bigger beads with complex threading patterns. Several jewellery makers praise the heavy sized beading needle for its ability to quickly string together a large number of beads in a single sitting without having to change needles.
Purchase Beading Needles by the Pack
Anyone who spends time looking for beading supplies online usually finds that buying a single needle is not the most cost effective way to get the tools required for a beading project. In fact, beading needles are rarely sold one at a time. They are commonly sold in packs with either multiple counts of the exact same needle, or in an assorted pack with a variety of different beading needles. The assorted pack can result in great cost savings, as the variety gives the buyer a chance to tackle an array of different projects without purchasing an entire pack of each size and type of needle.
On the other hand, if the buyer plans to working on only similar types of projects, then buying a multi-pack version of a single needle is a better option. Additionally, there are assorted packs that carry the same type of needle in a variety of sizes. Less experienced crafters, especially, should keep a supply of both basic and sharp needles on hand. This ensures they have a diverse selection of needles to accommodate a wider range of projects. No matter the type, size, or packing, buyers can find the supplies they need on eBay.
Buying Beading Needles on eBay
Buyers unfamiliar with purchasing beading needles on eBay find it is a simple, straightforward process. The fastest way to find the right beading needle for a particular project is to start by entering your desired keywords or phrases in the search box on any eBay page. Something as direct and broad as "beading needles" is a perfect example. From here, buyers can narrow their options by selecting needles brand, size, or other criteria. Shoppers also have the power to conduct an even tighter search by selecting filtering options such as price range, buying format, and location.
Evaluating the Seller
Perhaps the most intimidating thing about shopping online is not knowing who you are dealing with. Luckily, eBay makes it easy to find out. The site has a transparent e-commerce system that reveals the seller's rating history, overall feedback score, and even offers reviews from real customers. In short, shoppers can spend all the time they want getting to know potential sellers before making a commitment, which is important for gaining the peace of mind in any online transaction.
Beading is used to embellish clothing and accessories, as well as to create artwork and jewellery. Access to the right tools is vital to the success of beading projects. Beading requires very specific types of needles. These needles come in various shapes and sizes, designed for a variety of purposes. Some of these purposes are simple. Others are complex enough to not only require a special tool, but a special set of skills. By taking a little time to do their homework, aspiring crafters can be sure they are purchasing the right needle for their beading projects. Buyers need to consider needle type and size, as well the size of the beads being used, when shopping for beading needles. A small stock of beads, wire, and needles is enough to get most consumers started on the majority of beading projects. Other accessories and specialty items can be purchased later, on an as-needed basis.