Your Guide to Buying the Right Size Beading Needle

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Your Guide to Buying the Right Size Beading Needle

There are many different ways to craft, create, and otherwise express oneself through design. One increasingly popular option is to use beading and beadwork for jewellery making and creating other décor. While only a few tools are necessary to start working with beads, one of the most important tools is an appropriate beading needle that allows an artist to weave beads together as well as to attach beads to other fabrics and surfaces.

Different types of beading needles, including variety packages of many sizes and shapes, are widely available at craft stores as well as online on eBay. Just as with any type of craft project, in order to make the best beadwork possible, it is important to work with the most appropriate tools. When it comes to beading, this means choosing the correct beading needles. The right beading needle size for your project depends on the type of beads to be used as well as your own personal preference.

Types of Beading Needles

Although they look similar to typical sewing needles, beading needles are specifically designed to be used in beadwork, whether that is off-loom bead weaving, jewellery making, or bead embroidery. The narrower eye of a beading needle makes it possible to pass a bead over it, whereas that would not be possible with a standard sewing needle. When choosing beading needles for any beading project, it is important to consider the different types of beading needles that are available. While the beading needle size is certainly important, so are the manufacturer, the pliability, and the material from which the beading needle is made.

English Beading Needles

As the name suggests, English beading needles are those that have been manufactured in England. However, some traditional English beading needle companies have now moved some of their production to China. But aside from their country of origin, English beading needles are also different in how they behave. Unlike some other beading needles, English beading needles are more flexible. This means that after being used for a while, they tend to take on a more curved shape. Some people prefer this characteristic, while others prefer a stiffer needle.

Japanese Beading Needles

Japanese beading needles are made in Japan. Some of the most popular Japanese beading needle manufacturers are Tulip and Miyuki. Japanese beading needles have high standards of smoothness, as do English beading needles, to keep them from snagging on fabric or thread. Unlike English beading needles, Japanese beading needles are stiffer and less likely to take on a curved shape over time. While some bead artists find this rigidity helps in their projects, others find the stiffness makes the needles more prone to breaking. The type of bead work being done should help to identify which type of beading needle is more useful.

Economy Beading Needles

English beading needles and Japanese beading needles are certainly the most common and popular from crafts, embroidery, and jewellery making. Furthermore, even the highest quality beading needles are not very costly. Still, for those artisans working with a budget or who need to buy a huge quantity of needles, economy beading needles are also available. Generally, these needles are made in China or India. While they may not have the durability of the English or Japanese needles, they can work fine for some basic projects.

Beading Needle Materials

The vast majority of beading needles are made from stainless steel. The material means that the needles are generally quite affordable while still maintaining their durability. Furthermore, stainless steel beading needles are very smooth, making it easy for beads to slip over the needle in the course of a project.

Bead Sizes

When considering what type and size of beading needles to purchase, it is first important to decide what type of beads are being used in a project as well as the type of stitching that is being done. This is because the size of the needle depends on how big the beads are as well as how many times the thread needs to pass through the bead.

The most common size seed beads are size 15 seed beads, which are between 1.3 and 1.4 mm in diameter. Seed beads may be much bigger than this, but seed beads smaller than size 15 are rarely seen. The beading needle you choose much be the right size to accommodate the smallest beads since larger ones obviously fit over smaller needles, but the opposite is not true.

Beading Needle Sizes

Choosing the right size beading needles is essential in making sure a beading project goes as smoothly as possible. If the beads do not slip easily over the eye of the beading needle, the project is likely to be much more frustrating that satisfying. The following table outlines the most common sizes of beading needles as well as the types of beads and stitches that are best used with those needles. Keep in mind that the larger the needle's size, the smaller the actual size of the needle's eye.

Needle Size

Appropriate Stitches

Appropriate Beads


Peyote, brick stitch, netting, loom weaving

Size 8 seed beads, Size 11 seed beads


All off-loom stitches as well as loom work

Size 8 seed beads, Size 11 seed beads, Size 15 seed beads


All off-loom stitches as well as loom work, especially right angle weave or spiral rope

Size 15 seed beads


All off-loom stitches as well as loom work, especially right angle weave or spiral rope

Small antique seed beads

Depending on your level of experience, it may require some trial and error to find the perfect size beading needle for any given project. Luckily, it is possible to buy packages of beading needles that offer a variety of sizes in order to experiment more efficiently.

Beading Needle Length

The number that describes the size of a beading needle has no bearing on the length of the needle and instead only describes the width of the needle's eye. In general, beading needles are approximately 5 cm in length. Beading needles also come in extra-long varieties that are longer, for projects that require it.

Beading Sharps

Some beading projects require needles that are smaller than average. A shorter size may offer more control to the beader and make it less likely that the needle break in the course of a project. Shorter beading needles are known as beading sharps. However, beading sharps are not actually any sharper than traditional beading needles. Rather, the name simply refers to the length of the needle. Beading sharps are around 2.5 cm in length.

Other Beading Accessories

Beading needles are an essential part of any artisan's toolkit when he or she wants to work with beads. However, there are a few other accessories that are also important to consider in order to create beautiful bead pieces. Beading thread is another important accessory since it serves to actually attach the beads to one another or to a piece of fabric or other material, depending on the project.

Beading scissors are especially sharp for easily cutting through beading thread or wire without causing damage to the final project. Finally, a bead mat is a good investment since it allows the artist to easily see small beads, provides friction so that those beads do not roll away and even helps to save in-progress projects. While not every accessory is necessary for every project, it is a good idea to have those that are easily accessible when starting a new piece of beadwork.

How to Buy Beading Needles on eBay

Beading needles, as well as other crafting accessories, are widely available on eBay. It is quite easy to find the perfect beading needles by searching the site, using the search box that appears on every page. A simple search for "beading needles" returns many different results and allows you to narrow down your choices using the filters eBay provides. With sellers from around the world that have access to a huge array of beading needles, it is more than likely that the perfect beading needle for your project is waiting on eBay.

Because beading needles are so small and light, the shipping charges on a package of beading needles is likely to be negligible. Still, if you have any questions about the purchasing or shipping process, be sure to ask the seller before completing your purchase. The eBay interface makes it easy to have one-on-one contact with any seller by simply sending a quick message about your concerns.


Doing bead work is a delicate and beautiful skill that has been passed down through many cultures for generations. Today, people from around the world still diligently hone their craft by creating beautiful and unique beadwork of their own. However, it is only possible to make these pieces with the right tools. The right beading needles can make a work of difference when working with these types of delicate projects.

A beading needle that is too large can make it impossible to continue while one that is too small may break or otherwise make it difficult to work. Having a thorough plan for a beading project before shopping for the necessary tools is a good way to ensure that you are able to find and purchase the right size beading needle, whether that is a delicate beading sharp or an extra-long beading needle. With the right tools, bead crafts and jewellery can make unique gifts, beautiful decorations, and a wonderfully satisfying hobby.

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