Bring on the Beads!

Bring on the Beads!

Hello there, lovely!

I’m so happy to have you here with me today. It’s a wonderful day for stitching in my neck of the woods – drizzly and cool. Fall is definitely in the air. Last time, we chatted about stitching the grass on my “Tuscaloosa” canvas and today, it’s all about the beads!

That’s right – it’s time to add some bling!

Have you ever done any beading on your needlepoint projects? It’s actually not nearly as hard as it might seem – but it’s super-important to have the right tools and materials. So, what are they?

First, of course, is the beads.

Glass seed beads are what I most often use on my needlepoint – and they’re what you’ll likely find in your local needlework shop.

They come in a variety of sizes, but size 11 and size 14 are the most common. I recommend using size 11 on 13/14 mesh needlepoint canvas and size 14 on 18 mesh canvas.

Here’s a handy little tip – the smaller the bead, the smaller the mesh canvas you should use it on.

Beads are just like tapestry needles and needlepoint canvas – the larger the number that’s assigned to the item, the smaller (or finer) it actually is.

For example, size 24 tapestry needles are smaller than size 22 tapestry needles and 18 mesh needlepoint canvas is finer than 13 mesh canvas. Sooo – size 14 seed beads are smaller than size 11 seed beads. Make sense? Terrific!

Moving right along…

you’ll also need beading thread. The thread should be fine enough to easily glide through the center more than once. Why’s that? Some of the beading techniques require you to make multiple passes through each bead to secure it to your canvas.

Nymo waxed nylon thread is an especially good option, but you can also use silk or cotton embroidery floss. Be sure and “pop” or pull the Nymo thread tautly after you cut it to relax the kinks. That’ll also ensure that your beads will lay more smoothly on the canvas. If you decide to use cotton thread, I recommend running it through a cake of beeswax before you begin stitching. It’s a whole lot easier to work with if you’ll just do that one little thing. 😉

And, of course, you’ll need beading needles.

Beads have tiny little holes, so you’ll need to use beading needles instead of standard tapestry needles. Beading needles are quite slender and the eye is typically the same diameter as the shaft, so you don’t have to worry about that pesky eye not fitting through the center.

Beading needles come in a variety of sizes and lengths, but my all-time favorite is the size 10 Bohin beading needle. Here’s a picture for you.

Bohin's size 10 beading needles are my all-time favorites!


Definitely one of the hardest things about using beads on your needlepoint projects is keeping them under control. My go-to gadget for corralling them is actually one that I made.

Here’s a picture of my portable bead case…

Make your own portable bead case!

Click here to get my FunSheet for how to make your own beading case. 🙂

I’m going to bead the word “Tuscaloosa” on my canvas. Here’s a picture of it BB (before beads).

All that's left to do is stitch the cloud! Hooray!


I’m using the “lasso” technique. Here’s a picture of my canvas with the beading in progress.

Making progress on adding beads to my Tuscaloosa canvas by Kathy Schenkel Designs.

After I finish beading “Tuscaloosa”, all I’ll have left to do is stitch that little cloud in Wisper and finish up Denny Chimes.  Then, I can check this project off my list.

Be sure and keep an eye on the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook page for a “grand finale” picture – before I send my ornament off to the finisher.

And if you’re looking for the best place to find terrific needlepoint tutorials, click here to check out Needlepoint-TV, the official YouTube channel for Serendipity Needleworks. Be sure and subscribe so you don’t miss anything. 😉

Until next week, happy stitching!


Stitch with a smile!



8 thoughts on “Bring on the Beads!”

    • Hi Anne!
      Thank you for your question. It’s actually a two-step method of attaching beads to a canvas. You’re working with a doubled thread when you use the lasso method to attach beads. First, you come up in a hole as though making a tent stitch, then slide a bead onto your thread, all the way down to the surface of your canvas. Next, take your needle to the back across one canvas intersection, as though making a tent stitch, so there’s a bead on your canvas with a tent stitch running through it. (Hope that makes sense!)
      Come up again in that first hole and then take your needle to the back of the canvas in the same second hole that you used in step one, pulling it slowly through to the back. Right before you snug the stitch down – this is the “lasso” part – split the two strands apart so that one strand goes around the left side of the bead and the other strand goes around the right side of the bead. That last little step is what keeps the beads from being so floppy on the top of your canvas. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help.
      Have a wonderful Wednesday!

    • Hi Retha
      That sounds like a fun project! My best suggestion is to look for Mill Hill cross stitch bead kits. They have some fun designs.
      Happy stitching!!

  1. Hello,

    I think I understand your article but to help clarify. If I use 15/0 seed beads I can use use it on 18 count Aida? I’m currently using 11/0 on 14 count but I want to do bigger projects but not have a huge cloth to work with.

    Thank You

    • Hi Kimberly!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post. 🙂
      I’m not a cross stitcher, but my guess is that you’re right – you could use 15/0 seed beads on 18 count Aida. My friend, Diane, owns a shop in Gulf Shores, AL. It’s called Creative NeedleArts. You might call her and ask, just to be on the safe side. She carries several supplies for counted cross stitch. Here’s the link to her website:
      Happy stitching…

  2. Thanks for the great, clear info you give. This will be my first time to work with beads. Should I stitch the background FIRST and then put in the beads? Or beads FIRST?

    • Hi Carolyn!
      Thank you for your kinds words. I’m so glad you found the info in the post helpful. As a general rule, I usually add the beads when I’m getting close to the finish line.
      You’re going to love working with beads – just give yourself plenty of time and some grace. They can be a little fiddly at first.
      Have fun…


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Serendipity Needleworks

Hi, I’m Ellen. A needlepoint teacher and author dedicated to helping motivated but overwhelmed stitchers at every stage find exactly what they need to stitch with confidence. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the needlepoint world or you’re ready to take your skills to the next level, I’ve fine-tuned a learning experience just for you.

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