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Bead Stringing

There are lots of choices for stringing your beads besides beading wire. The first thing to consider is the size of the beads and their holes. Also, how strong and flexible should the stringing material be? Will it hold a knot? For designs, what are the colors and how much of the stringing material will show?

In order to maximize the strength and durability of a piece, it’s a good idea to use the thickest version of your chosen stringing material that you can easily get through your beads. Of course, you will want some extra room. Keep in mind that a 1.0 mm hole cannot accommodate a 1.0 mm cord. There is almost always some variation in hole size among similarly sized beads, so you will want to plan for some extra room to make sure you can string all your beads. If you are using a needle, you need to consider the size of the needle and that the stringing material will be doubled when going through the beads.

Please note: We do not carry every option in the informational sheet in our shop.


If you have any questions, please call.

(360) 393-4605.


Braided Polyester Cord: It typically comes either waxed or unwaxed. The waxed will prevent fraying. It comes in many colors for various design options. It is strong and durable, but the wax may wear off. You can melt the ends of the cords to prevent fraying.

Braided Threads: There are several high-tech braided threads on the market today. For example: Power Pro and Tough Thread. Their break strength is the highest of any stringing materials based on their diameter (yes, stronger even than nylon-coated stranded wire, which is made of steel). It can be used in place of silk or nylon thread or stranded wire, although you may not want to use it with crystals, since they could eventually cut through it.

Elastic Cord: It is a soft and stretchy cord used primarily for fun and inexpensive jewelry. It’s especially useful for projects with children, since it doesn’t require a clasp. It is also great for slip-on jewelry. Because it’s stretchy, the knots tend to loosen. You can use a dab of glue to seal them. Elastic cord will eventually age from use and exposure to different chemicals. If the color starts to yellow, it’s time to restring your piece on new elastic cord. We recommend Stretch Magic. It comes in various sizes to meet most of your beading needs: .5mm, .7mm, .8mm, 1mm, 1.5mm and 1.8mm. The most common sizes for bracelets are .70mm and .80mm.

Hemp: Natural hemp cord is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly. Hemp cord has a smooth, polished texture. It is extremely uniform, fray resistant, knots easily and maintains its shape well under normal wear. Hemp has many color choices.

Kevlar: natural color is yellow and cannot be bleached white. However, it can be dyed other colors. This thread is incredibly strong for its thickness. Kevlar is the thread used to make the bullet-proof vests. Use fisherman-type knots with this material as overhand knots weaken the strength of the thread.

Leather or Suede Cord: Leather is a great option for creating natural, rustic and organic looking jewelry. You can hang it with a single pendant and/or beads or loop it around a gemstone donut. The Greek leather cord is among the best you can get because the cord is double painted and lacquered for long lasting color that resists rubbing off. The drying process is carried out in a manner that allows the leather to continue to breathe, which adds life to both the cord and the paint finish. The result is a smooth, textured leather cord that is pliable, yet strong.

Monofilament (fishing line): It is a very thin, delicate bead cord that is most commonly used for making “illusion” necklaces where the beads appear to float on the skin because the cord is nearly invisible. The design possibilities are endless and it’s easy to finish with crimp beads and the clasp of your choice. Monofilament cord is also thin enough to use with pearls. It is inexpensive and there are fewer color choices. Monofilament drapes and knots well, but can kink if handled carelessly. FireLine is a very popular brand of monofilament.

Nylon Bead Thread: There are several types of nylon beading thread. For bead weaving and fiber arts, Nymo and Silamide are popular choices. A twisted Poly/Nylon (Polyamid) thread is an alternative to silk. It’s twice as strong as plain nylon and while it has some stretch to it, it bounces back when released. It knots well and holds up to everyday wear better than silk.

Ribbon: There are so many beautiful choices of color, sizes and texture in ribbon. To finish, you can use ribbon or fold over ends.

Satin Cord: It comes in three sizes. Rattail (2mm), Mousetail (1.5mm) and Bugtail (1.0mm). Rattail is about the same thickness as a rat’s tail, etc. It’s a finely braided cord with a lovely satin finish. It comes in many beautiful colors and is especially nice for showcasing a single pendant or a few special beads. Rattail is often used for Chinese knotting. Use glue on the ends to prevent fraying.

Silk Thread: It is the traditional favorite for stringing pearls, although it can also be used to string and knot other beads. Some other stringing materials may harm delicate pearls. It is not recommended for beads with sharp or abrasive edges because the silk will fray in time. Silk thread can be found in sizes from #0 (very fine – about .30 mm) to #16 (very thick – about 1.05 mm). Most silk thread is sold on cards in 2 meter (6.5 feet) length with a flexible twisted needle attached.

We recommend using #2 for very small pearls, and either #4 or #6 for average or larger pearls. You should use the largest size thread that you can comfortably get through the pearls in order to maximize the strength and stability of the jewelry. Because silk stretches and degrades with frequent exposure to body oils, soaps, etc., you will want to be more careful with your jewelry with silk thread and realize you may have to restring your jewelry.

Sterling Silver Beading Chain: This delicate chain is an exceptionally elegant way to feature a special pendant or a few choice beads. It’s thin enough to handle 6/0 seed beads and some glass beads. You can finish with special crimp ends with loops or a bead tip.

Waxed Cotton: Waxed cotton cord is stronger than leather cord. Testing for colorfastness is recommended. Treating cotton cord with wax make the cord fray resistant and allows it to hold a very precise knot, which is good for adjustable cord bracelets and necklaces. There is almost no stretch to this cord.


Finishing: Knotting is a common way of finishing with these materials. A bead tip can be used for some of the threads, like the silk. Fold over and ribbon ends can be used for ribbon, waxed cotton, and other cords.

What not to use: Nobody likes to have a necklace or bracelet break and scatter beads all over the floor. Stringing materials need to be able to stand up to the everyday wear and tear of the human body as well as the stresses of various types of beads. Please don’t try to use any of the following kinds of strings: non-monofilament fishing line, dental floss, plain cotton thread and standard sewing thread.How much do you need: When cutting a piece of stringing material add six inches to the desired length of the piece for finishing a necklace and five inches for a bracelet. If the strands will be twisted or knotted, it is suggested to add 75% to 100% more of the desired length. Always err on the side of having more.

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  1. Hi I am looking for polyester cord 1mm in a lavender color or a light pink if you have it? very hard to find 🙂 Thank you.

    1. I am so sorry I missed your question on our website. We do not have any cord in the size or color you mentioned. We carry a nice line of leather, helm, waxed cotton, but not what you wanted. Thanks for asking and I hope you have a great day.

  2. What size upholstery cord is best for stringing beads?

    1. Cherilynn, I don’t really now much about upholstery cord. But for any cord, it really depends on the size of the hole of your beads. If you wanted to bring some of the beads that you are interested in stringing into our shop, we can help you find cord that would fit. Thanks and I hope you have a great day.

  3. I want to make some ankle bracelets with hemp. I bought some hemp cord that is fairly thin but the seed beads in the store were too small for the hemp to fit through. Do you know what size of seed bead I would need for that? And do you know someplace I might be able to purchase them? Like a good web store? I live in a small town and we only have a Michael’s here. They do not have a very good selection of beads. Thank you.

    1. 6/0 seed bead should fit hemp that is 1mm or less. Hope that helps and have a great day.

  4. Hi there! I have a bunch of cotton cord that isn’t waxed and wondering what kind of wax to buy to apply to the ends so they can be burned and not fray. Thanks!

    1. Thread Heaven or bee’s wax. That should work just fine. Have a great day.

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