Tips and Tricks

Useful Hints to Make Beading Easier 

The Ultimate Pin Cushion:

A good pin cushion is essential for stitching and embroidery.  Any shape, size or color will do - what matters is what goes into the pin cushion.  Some essentials to have are:

3 Beading Needles - One for the working thread, one for securing tails, and a spare.

4 Stick Pins - These may be needed for embroidery, but are also great for picking up stray beads, attaching a project or focal bead to the pincushion for easy traveling, and plenty of other tasks.

1 White Seed Bead, 1 Black Seed Bead - Attach these to the pincushion with more stick pins.  These can be used as stop-beads for nearly any project, either color will be sure to stand out.

  • Pick up a second pin cushion, and use stick pins to hold beads in color schemes that you want to use, for future reference.


Irregular Beads:

Even the most expensive package of beads can sometimes have a few bad apples.  Misshapen beads, odd colored beads, and broken beads are just a few problems.  With seed beads, there are often a few (or more!) in a bunch that just won't go over the needle.
While finding these bad beads can be frustrating, there's no need to let them go to waste.  Keep a few bead cups nearby to collect them, and you may find they are useful after all.

Seed beads that are just slightly off - oddly shaped or colored - can be used as stop beads.  If you collect enough of them, they can be made into an eclectic multi-strand necklace.
Save larger irregular beads to make a memory wire bracelet, or give them to older kids to make their own fun jewelry.

Broken beads and beads that are too small can be used to decorate objects by gluing them to surfaces, or combine them with polymer clay to make beaded beads or sculpture.

Leftover Beads:

You've found a great string of vintage beads, or raided the clearance bin of your LBS to find some unique beads for a stunning project.  And now that it's done, you have a few stray beads left over.  

What to do with them?  Throw all caution to the wind and mix your miscellaneous beads together!  Use your 'leftovers' mixture to create one or more pieces that follow no rules.  

Here are a few ideas:


Recycled Bead Cups:

Just about any small container can be used as a vessel for holding beads and findings while you work on a project.  Some examples are:

Coasters: Any type of coffee coaster with a rim is great for holding beads.  Because they are shallow, you can pick up beads easily with one hand.

Apple sauce cups:  Single serving apple sauce made for lunches are a great snack, but why throw out the cups?  They're washable and stackable, and hold a lot of beads.  They can also be handy for sorting out beads if you buy mixtures in bulk.

Medicine lids:  Save the lids from old medicine bottles (make sure leftover medicines are recycled at your pharmacy).  These shallow containers are perfect for one handed bead pick ups when you need an extra hand to keep beadwork steady.

Styrofoam trays:  Wash and save styrofoam trays from your groceries to hold large beads.  They make great organizers, and shouldn't end up in the landfill.

Film lids:  These are great for holding beads.  Lay out a towel or cloth on your work surface to stop beads from bouncing if your container should tip over.

Inspiration Scrapbooks:

Ideas can come and go in a flash, so it's a helpful to have a place to store them for future reference.  Any type of notebook will do for jotting down ideas, sketching designs and testing out color schemes. 

Re-use old magazines before they head to the recycling bin by clipping out photos that may offer up some inspiration.  No matter
what the content is, nearly all magazines have great photography that can help your own creativity get a boost.  Even just a few licks of color from a larger photo can be the spark for an amazing work of beaded art.  Blank scrapbooks are great for saving clippings, because glue won't cause the pages to wrinkle.

All-in-One Beading Binder*

Keep everything you need for beading in one handy, portable binder.

Start with a 3 inch “cargo” binder, with a zippered closure to keep things safe.

Use a hole-punch to add magazines, patterns, project directions and sketches. Adhesive photo album pages can secure clippings, photographs and other paper inspirations.

Use plastic page protectors, and trading card or photograph sleeves to store beads, projects and materials. A three-hole pencil case can carry tools and other beading accessories.

*Ideas adapted by Beading Daily members.