Innovative Stringing

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

With the increase in demand for new stringing materials, we look at the newest and most original stringing materials around. By Julie Bonnar

One of the most frequent questions that jewellery makers ask is 'what stringing material should I use?' There are many different types of stringing media on the market today and there's no one product that can do every job and it really all depends on what you are stringing. 


DMC Color Infusions is a memory thread, which comes in an amazing 28 different colours so there'll always be a colour to match your bead colour scheme. It has a thin copper wire core wrapped in soft thread fibres (40% copper wire, 34% viscose, 23% cotton, 3% Polyamide), which allows the thread to be bent, twisted and knotted in many different ways but also allows it to hold its shape to create 3D designs. Its also colourfast, fade resistant, acid free and non-divisible, which is a must when threading beads! Color Infusion Memory thread is presented on a recyclable shuttle and holds 2.7m of thread and is easy to store.

Available from

£2.99 per shuttle.


Beadalon new Hybraid™ is a fusion of stringing materials that combines wire and a Spectra® fibre in a single cord. The core is made of copper wire surrounded by the Spectra braided fibre and then encased in braided stainless steel wire. It combines the best characteristics of both wire and the flexibility of a cord in a single threading material. It's fast gaining recognition as an innovative and new medium for bead stringing as it feels and behaves unlike any other beading material. Its extra texture and body give it incredible strength, amazing abrasion resistance and it can be knotted, which makes it perfect for the popular Shamballa bracelets. Made in the USA, it is available in 0.018in (0.45mm) diameter in 5 yard (4.5m) spools.

For stockists visit 


Ribbon is a great string material for large statement pieces of jewellery. Flexible ribbons include organza, grosgrain, satin, silk and velvet and they come in many different widths, colours and textures. To make it extra special, choose hand-dyed or hand-painted ribbon to make your piece unique. Silk ribbons can add an extra elegance to pearls, semiprecious stones and crystals or organza with pearls. Finish your pieces with a ribbon crimp or simply tie it in a bow for a vintage look. Narrow ribbons can also be thread into large chain links to give a feminine look to a heavier piece of jewellery. Ribbon can be more expensive than other stringing materials, but you could use recycled or vintage pieces. Always use clear drying flexible craft glue on the ends this will help ribbon from fraying too.

Available from

TECHNIQUE TIP: Stringing beads onto your ribbon can be difficult with the width of the ribbon, but the effect can be very pretty and feminine. You may need to use a bead reamer to widen the hole of pearls or semiprecious stones (don't use on crystal beads as it can damage or crack the crystals) or thread using a collapsible eye needle. 


Create a floating or illusion necklace/bracelet with a monofilament thread. Monofilament threads are extremely strong and hardwearing but at the same time soft, durable and knot-able. These are usually made from nylon but there are a few cotton versions around and come in clear and black. For best results use with acrylic, wood and non-abrasive beads to prolong the life of the thread from damage. This type of thread is available from Beadsmith (illusion cord) and Beadalon (Supplemax clear monofilament illusion cord) but there are also sewing and craft versions available. Illusion style necklaces look great when use three or four strands together.

For stockists visit or

TECHNIQUE TIP: Once you've threaded all of your beads in this way take the necklace and steam it over a hot kettle (hold with tweezers and watch out for your fingers in the hot steam). This will slightly melt the monofilament thread onto the bead and fix your beads in place so they don't move or bunch up. 

This spun tin thread from Panduro Hobby is nickel-free and has a 4% silver content, which makes the wire strong and helps keep its fine lustre. It's available in 3 thickness 0.7-0.8mm (0.3mm core wire), 0.9-1mm (0.35mm core wire) and 1.05-1.15mm (0.4mm core wire). Used by itself, there's just enough for a simple weave bracelet or to add texture and interest to leather designs. All thicknesses are packed in 120 cm length.

Available from £4.99.



What stringing material should I use?
Always use the strongest thread for the job and remember to choose the correct thickness in relation to the size of the hole of the beads that you have chosen.

Beading Wire (Coated Wire) - this includes Soft Touch, Beadalon, Accuflex and Soft Flex which are trade names for this type of threading material and come in a variety of sizes and colours. They are best used with stone and crystal beads. The thinner cords can be knotted and used with crimp beads and bead tips. Make your own headpins and fishhook ear wires. Wire ranges from very fine 0.2mm, which can be used for wire knitting and twisting to 1mm, which is thick enough to hold its shape.


Elastic cord - this comes in various thicknesses strengths and colours and used for stretchy bracelets. It can be glued, knotted or fused.


Hemp cord - this is good to use with knotting designs such as macramé, polymer and large beads. It is strong and now is available in many more colours than just beige!

Leather/ suede cord - used for heavier beads like stone donuts and pendants and can look good left showing as part of the design. It is available in several thicknesses and great for making casual designed pieces. It can be knotted, glued and crimped. Suede cord tends to be flatter and thicker than leather but it can snap when stretched.


Linen cord - often used with macramé designs and comes in a more limited selection of colours, which are usually white, black and brown. However it is also very strong as it has been waxed and is ideal for making long necklaces with large heavy beads.

Memory wire - make quick and easy necklaces and bracelets. Use hardware store wire cutters rather than side cutters and remember to protect your eyes.

Monofilament (Illusion thread) - this really is the same stuff fishermen use for catching fish! This is very strong nylon product.


Nylon thread - this synthetic fibre thread is less expensive than silk and can be bought on long rolls or cards and doesn't stretch or fray. It is available in a wide range of colours and sizes.


Nymo - this is a staple thread for bead weaving and beadwork with seed beads but can be used for stringing pearls too. Available in a wide range of colours and various sizes on larger rolls or tiny bobbins, this nylon thread in sizes from 00-FF (fine to thick) and should be waxed with beeswax.


Polyester thread - this won't shrink from moisture and is less likely to fray than silk.


Satin Cord - also known as Rattail and good for use with large beads and Chinese knotting techniques.


Silamide - this a 2-ply twisted nylon thread produced originally for the tailoring industry. It comes waxed and can be used like Nymo with small beads. Because it is pre-waxed with strands twisted together, the thread is ready to use and extremely strong. However, it can be tricky to thread through a needle because of the twisted strands.


 TIP FOR THREADING - if you are having difficult threading the needle, try threading from the opposite end of the thread or turning your needle around and try the other side of the needle eye.


Silk thread - this is a well known for bead stringing especially freshwater pearls. Silk thread can fray, but it is a higher quality thread than nylon and very versatile as comes in many colours and sizes (sizes 0-16 with 16 being the thickest). It's easy to knot but because it stretches you may want to pre-stretch it before stringing.


Tigertail -this wire has been made using a number of twisted steel wires covered with in a coloured nylon coating, which makes it super strong and a favourite with jewellery makers. It drapes beautifully like softer thread but can handle sharp-edged beads. It is available with different numbers of strands; three being the cheapest and 49 being the best quality. The more strands there are, the more flexible it is and becomes less likely it is to kink. Use with crimps to secure beads and findings.


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