For regular stringing, twisted-wire needles work well as the large eye closes to fit through the beads. For seed beads, use beading needles. These resemble sewing needles but are usually longer and thinner. The larger the number, the thinner the needle (to match sizes of seed beads).
The most common form of beading needles are the ones that look like normal sewing needles except they are more flexible, quite thin, and have much smaller thread holes. They come in sizes 10 through 16. The higher the number, the thinner the needle, to match the size of seed beads.
Beading needles are designed with eyes that do not protrude the needle width, which prevents the needles from getting stuck as it goes through the bead. These are the ideal needles to use for stringing, loomwork, seed bead projects and other off-loom beading.
While all manufacturers produce needles that become smaller as the gauge rises, not all similarly sized needles by different companies will be exactly the same. If you are using a new brand of needle, it’s a good idea to test the needle to make sure it will easily pass through the opening of your beads.
The following are more specialized types of beading needles designed for various projects:
- Twin-pointed needles are made for bead embroidery.
- Glover’s needles are manufactured with triangular tips for use on leather.
- Big-eye needles have a split between the two ends where beading thread can be easily passed through. This is helpful for delicate project with small seed beads or loomwork.
- Twisted beading needles do not have a sharp point and are very easy to thread. Used for stringing projects, this type of needle collapses after being passed through a set of beads.
One technique for easier threading is to cut the thread on an angle, and then lightly dampen the angled end of the thread. Bright lighting can make it easier to see the eye of the needle and thus thread it.
You can save time by threading many needles at the same time, so you can just pull one out when needed, instead of stopping to rethread each time you run out.
It’s tempting to use long lengths of thread to reduce the number of times you need to thread a needle, but use a length only as long as your arms reach. Using longer lengths takes more time and effort to pull through the project and tangles more easily.