Bead Embroidery Materials


If you’re new to bead embroidery, then where do you start? I suggest your first task would be to gather together these bead embroidery materials. But what are they?

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Happily, you probably already have a lot of these in your stash. But there are a few specialist things that you may need to buy. So, let me guide you through the essentials.

Bead Embroidery Materials

First, you need some beads. You can use any beads that you like, but you will probably spend most of your time working with seed beads.

Then, you need some thread. I suggest that KO, S-lon, possibly Nymo, or any of the other nylon-based threads, will be best. Some people like to use Fireline for bead embroidery. But I don’t feel it brings the same benefits as it does to bead-weaving (just my personal opinion!).

Base materials

Now, you will need some material onto which to stitch. If you are making jewellery, then I suggest using Lacy’s Stiff Stuff or Nicole’s bead backing. These are basically stiffened material that is easy to stitch through and doesn’t fray.

You can also draw on this material to mark out your pattern guide. In fact, I’ve discovered that I can actually put my ‘Stiff Stuff’ in my printer and print directly onto it!

Some brands come in a range of colours. So, you might want to try and match or tone with your beads. However, this isn’t essential. If you are working as you should, then your beads will cover the fabric so it doesn’t show through. So, if you’re having trouble finding coloured materials, don’t worry – just grab the basic white variety.

Bead Embroidery

Now, if you are desperate to get started and have no means of getting these materials, I have used a normal sewing fabric and stiffened it with iron-on interfacing. But be warned – the two fabrics may start to come apart as you work. So, I would recommend the ‘proper’ materials if possible… Unless you are planning to add some freeform embroidery to brighten up a patterned material… (Just a thought to keep in mind!).


The last essential piece is Ultrasuede. This is what will provide the ‘back’ to your jewellery. So, it is the part that sits against the skin. It is more decorative than the Stiff Stuff/backing, but still has the same properties of not fraying and being durable and easy to sew.

Some people also choose to use lightweight leather. In general, I prefer to sew my backing to the bead embroidery (check out the post on ‘finishing off’ if you want more information on that), but it is perfectly possible to just glue on a backing. If you have chosen a stiff material, you may find it difficult to sew through. So, in that case, you could glue the backing on.

Optional extras

You may choose to use a ‘blank’ for a  necklace or bracelet. This is basically a piece of metal that has been shaped to fit like a cuff or necklet. You can cover this with the bead backing. If you want to try a project that uses that technique, then check out this free tutorial.

bead embroidery


Finally, gather together these tools:

  • beading needle
  • scissors
  • some clear glue
  • a pencil or pen
  • ruler or tape measure

…and you’re ready to begin. In the next post, I will show you how to set your project up and draw a pattern to follow as you work.

If you need to gather any supplies together, then follow this link to go to one of my favourite bead shops.

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2 Responses

  1. POEMA IVANOVA says:

    Hi I am doing beading embroidery – working by stitching beads on fabric, to make picture. My projects are around 50/50 cm, so I need at least a couple of metres. But I am not sure what ki d of fabric exactly will be good for my projects, as previously I was buying the set, including fabric, on which the picture is printed. I would appreciate if you can advise on my issue. The colour I need is sky blue/light blue. Thank you.

    • beadflowers says:

      Hi! Your bead embroidery sounds lovely, but it is a little different from what I am used to doing. I make jewellery and that just uses much smaller bead embroidery sections. So, I would always stitch these on ‘Stiff Stuff’, as I talked about above.
      The kind of embroidery you are doing sounds more like fashion design, so you would be using sewing fabric for that. You would be best to try and work out what kind of material came in your sets. You can do fashion embroidery onto all types of material – it depends on what you are making. And you might get more help from a fashion embroidery – try the London Embroidery School website.

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