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Basic Beading: An Introduction to DIY Beading Techniques & Supplies

Beading is a great hobby and a good skill to learn if you enjoy making handcrafted gifts for friends.
Humans have always enjoyed crafting with beads. The earliest beaded jewelry is around 110,000 years old.
People once used shells as makeshift beads. Now, you can choose from glass, acrylic, wood, shell, and many more materials.
What if you're a beginner and you don't know where to start?
Don't worry, we've got you covered. Keep reading to learn what beading techniques and supplies you need to get started.

Bead Stringing
This is a great method for beginners. Choose a material (cord, elastic, wire, etc.) and string your beads.
Add a clasp for non-stretchy cords or use a knot with elastic thread. Separate beads with knots or spacers to stop beads from rubbing against each other.
This technique is great for making simple necklaces or bracelets. Try semiprecious stones or glass beads for elegant designs.
This type of beadwork involves stitching beads into a chain or a panel. Many crafters use seed beads for weaving, though their size and shape vary depending on the project.
Different techniques call for different stitch patterns. Crafters can make fabrics that are flat strips, flat circles, tubes, or even spirals. These following stitches work well as flat panels.
Peyote Stitch
Peyote stitch gives a cool offset column pattern. Pass the thread through the beads in a horizontal path and offset the beads vertically in half-bead increments.
When you have an even number of columns, it's even-count peyote. An odd number creates odd-count peyote.
Brick Stitch
This method is much like peyote stitch, except the thread runs vertically. By decreasing the pattern by a bead every row, you can create triangles or diamonds.
If you want a straight piece, add a bead at the end of a row to keep the edges even.
Ladder Stitch
This technique gives you long 'ladders' of beads. Create a single column of beads, or use multiple beads for wider ladders.
Other stitches, like brick and herringbone, use the ladder stitch as their foundation. The ladder stitch is great for simple bracelets to show off multi-faceted beads.
Square Stitch
This pattern gives a flat, uniform appearance. There are no offsets and it creates rectangular mats.
Use cylinder beads for smooth 'squares' and create your designs using different colors.
Right-Angle Weave
This stitch creates an open pattern with gaps within the weave. Beads are placed at right angles to each other.
Using two colors works well with this stitch. The vertical beads can be one color, with the right-angle beads in a contrasting color. 
Herringbone Stitch
Herringbone offers a simple stitch that involves stitching two beads at a time. Its name comes from the fact that its columns resemble fish skeletons.
You'll work across each row, which each pair of beads leaning towards each other. It's best to choose a complementary thread color since some of the thread will be on display.
Loom Beadweaving
You can create larger panels of beadwork using a loom. This helps you align the beads into columns and rows.
We're focusing on hand-beading techniques, so we won't go into loom beading here.
Embroidery With Beads
This is a simple way to embellish your embroidery. Stitch beads onto your fabric to create designs, either as accents for embroidery or their design.
Embroidery is a good way to liven up a piece of clothing or create wall art with your favorite quotes and sayings.
Cord and Yarn Based Beading
You can also use beads if you do knitting or crochet. String the beads onto your yarn before you begin.
Slide a bead down as you work specific stitches to add them. You can also use the same principle if you're making crochet jewelry out of wire.
Macrame and kumihimo are also forms of beading you can try. Macrame involves patterns made by knotting threads together. Adding beads makes a more interesting design.
Kumihimo involves running threads through a disk and braiding them together in a specific order.
What Supplies Do I Need?
Because there are so many types of beads available, we're going to use the most common terms. This should make it easier when you go to buy supplies. LaurDIY products offer a great range for beading beginners.
There are also other accessories you can buy, like magnifiers, scoops, and work lights. We recommend you try beading for a while before you start investing in extra equipment.
Seed beads are small glass beads. They come in different sizes, but they're almost always round.
If you're doing a brick stitch or peyote work, use cylinder beads to give your work a smooth finish.
Cut beads or hex beads give an interesting finish because they have flat sides to help reflect light.
Beading Needles
Get special beading needles because they're designed to pass through small bead holes.
Your pattern will specify the type of beads and the needle size. Sizes 10 and 12 are the most common sizes for beginners.
Ordinary sewing thread can fray or snap if you use it for beading. Choose beading thread, which is usually made from nylon or fishing line.
The latter is stronger and less likely to stretch over time, but nylon thread is cheaper and easier to work with.
Beginners should choose nylon thread in sizes D and B. Pick a light and a dark color for your first projects.
Beading Scissors
Embroidery scissors make short work of fishing line thread, but they also wear out quickly.
Pick up a couple of pairs of scissors to cut your nylon thread to save yourself time.
Bead Mat
Think you can pile your beads on your desk while you work? You could, but they're likely to roll away and end up on the floor.
A bead mat stops this from happening. A simple yard of foam blanket will work for beginners.
Thread Conditioner
Nylon threads can be preconditioned, but if the thread you buy is not, it's a good idea to use a thread conditioner.
It helps strengthen the thread and stops it from getting tangled. Apply conditioner to the thread before you start working.
Which Beading Techniques Will You Try?
There is much more to beading than we can cover in this article, but we've given you a great primer on the beading techniques and supplies you need to get started.
Start with a simple pattern to make it easier to learn your chosen technique. If you're worried it's too simple, pick an interesting color scheme to liven it up.
Remember that practice makes perfect, so the more beading you do, the easier it gets!
Check out our other crafts and DIY articles for more crafting inspiration!

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