Beading Mat Options


Beading Mats

Beading mats are essential for bead-weaving. The most beading matpiece of material with a texture a little like velour or velvet.

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The critical thing about a beading mat is its texture: it should be just rough enough to stop your beads from rolling about, but should not have a thick pile that the beads can hide in.

You can buy inexpensive beading mats from craft shops or most bead shops.

Beading mats are usually available in a range of colours. Whilst it is perfectly possible to manage with just one colour, it can be helpful to have a range of colours. If you are using very pale beads, they will show up better on a darker coloured mat. If your beads are dark, then you will definitely need a paler beading mat

To save you some time and money, I’ve found a great set of three beading mats right here:

Make your own mat

If you want to make your own, you can do so. Just take care when you pick the material.

Something like cotton or silk will not prevent the beads from rolling. So, it won’t work terribly well.

A material like towelling will have such a thick pile that you may find yourself losing beads within it. So, this is really not ideal either.

Velour is a good choice. Or, you can try felt, but be warned… The felt will shed fluff and this may end up getting tangled in your beads! When you can get a mat for under £1, I do wonder whether it is worth making your own!

Travelling with beads

Do you like to travel with your beads? Or, do you work in an environment where you are constantly having to pack your beads away between sessions? Then, you might consider ways of also transporting your beading mat.

When I am just working at home, I set my beading mat up on a tray so I can carry it around from one room to another. If you are thinking about travelling outside your home, then it would be worth investigating some of the specialty bead carrying kits.

You might also want to think about a great product from the Beadsmith. It’s not expensive, but it is fantastic for travelling. A sticky board.

The board is covered with a really special material so your beads will actually stick to it. This is amazing if you do crazy things like me and bead on trains and planes…

…did I tell you about my Easyjet experience? Let’s just say, I was ‘trapped’ in my seat with the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign on due to turbulence. However, my beads weren’t ‘strapped in’ and they decided to jump… So I had to ask a passing stewardess to scrabble around on the floor to retrieve the escapees… Was I a popular passenger? I’ll leave you to decide…!

Anyway, I wish I had had a Sticky board back then! So, to save you from similar dramas, I’ve pulled out a link here and it’s an amazing price. Maybe you even want more than one at this steal!?

Bead On It Boards

beading matIf you are happy to spend a more significant amount of money, then you might like to consider a ‘Bead On It’ board.

These boards have been developed in the USA and they provide some special features. The board is rigid, with slightly raised sides to prevent the beads from falling off.

The surface onto which you pour the beads is made from a special fabric that encourages them to sit with their holesbeading mat facing upwards.

If you are bead-weaving, then this is a huge benefit. It means that your beads are all ready for you to aim the needle directly into the hole. It must be said that this special quality applies only to seed beads, not pearls or crystals. Although the lovely fabric of the board still makes it great for these materials.

The sturdy structure of the board means you can carry it around safely. You can also stack boards on top of one another if you have several projects on the go.

These boards also come in a range of sizes and colours, so you can pick what you need.

Silaba Crafts Beading Trays

More recently, in the UK, Silaba Crafts launched their own beading trays. These look very similar to the beading boards and have all the same advantages of the sturdy frame, special material and a fabulous range of sizes and colours.

They have a couple of extra advantages over the Bead On It Boards: amongst the variety of shapes, you can select a special ‘curved’ Beading Tray the curve resting against your body. It’s absolutely perfect for holding the tray directly on your lap, rather than sitting at a table. So, if you are one of those beaders who enjoys beading in front of the TV on the comfort of your sofa, this gives a really comfortable, yet sturdy support.

Secondly, you can buy specially designed ‘Dilly Pads’ or ‘Dilly Dots’. These have been created to sit on the tray, fitting against a corner, and they have a small indentation that will hold a pile of beads. You can see a couple in use in the photo.

This is a brilliant innovation to keep the beads separate as you are working. I know from experience that beads are very fond of playing together. So, it can be very hard to keep your separate piles from rolling into one another on a beading mat or beading board, especially if you have to move the tray/board/mat while you are working.

Silaba Crafts offer you the chance to create your own custom-designed tray. So, you can choose the size and shape of your board. Then pick the fabric that you wish to have covering it.

How to choose the perfect mat for you

So, as you can see, when it comes to beading mats, there is plenty of choice. How do you decide which is right for you?

Think carefully about how much you want to spend on your hobby and the time and place where you are going to be working.

If you are on a tight budget, maybe just starting out, then a beading mat is perfectly fine. You can combine it with the beading tray. Plus, I make my own ‘makeshift’ pads to separate out beads… Just get the plastic lid from a yogurt pot or small ice cream tub. Then line it with velour or felt and it does the trick… For just a few pence!

If your beading is a serious hobby and you are willing to spend money, then I really cannot recommend the sturdier beading trays strongly enough. From my own experience, one is certainly not enough!

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32 Responses

  1. Kathleen Jones says:

    I have a large work area for beading and am looking for a roll of the soft bead mat material to make a mat to fit the area. These smaller mats 11/14 are frustrating to work on as they constantly separate. I would like to have a roll 2 feet by 4 feet to fit nicely on my work space. Can you advise where to find. Have been to material stores in area without luck.

    • beadflowers says:

      That is a fabulous idea! I’m not sure where you can buy rolls of the material that is used for beading mats, but I have found that velour is quite similar and that’s easier to get hold of in fabric shops. In theory, any material can be used as a beading mat, just as long as it has a bit of a ‘pile’, but not too much. For example, cotton or silk are too smooth, so the beads still roll on them. Felt is better, but the fibres tend to shed, so can get caught up with the beadwork. Towelling would be great for preventing the beads from rolling around, but the pile is a bit too much, so tiny beads will get lost in it. I hope that helps a bit – I’ll ask around and see if I can find out a bit more for you! Thanks for getting in touch.

      • Katie says:

        Thanks for your help. It is funny as there has to be a company that makes these mats. I would think they could cut longer or customized sized mats. When I think of studios or retail bead stores that have classes I would think having mats secured to tables would be beneficial. You would need to be able to wash the mats, but I do that with the little ones you can buy today. I’ve looked at velour, just not the same. If you find out anything let me know. Thanks! Katie

        • Maureen Taylor says:

          I spent hours looking for it online – it’s known as Vellux blanketing, but seems only to be available in the USA. It isn’t too expensive, but getting it sent over here is !!

          • Katie says:

            Thank you for finding the vellux material!! That is exactly what I requested!! I’ll go out and buy this week!

        • Andrea says:

          Cut from Vellux blanket. But a twin or full velux blanket!

          • beadflowers says:

            Hi Andrea,
            Thanks for the question. The truthful answer is, I don’t manufacture these, so I’m not sure what Vellux blanket is used (and I imagine that would be regarded as somewhat confidential information by the manufacturers who have patents to protect their designs). In practical terms, if you are looking to make something purely for your own personal use, I would suggest that it is up to you to determine the size of board you want (I like bigger as it holds more beads!!). You are just looking for a texture that is neither too rough nor too smooth, so you don’t want something with a lot of ‘pile’ as you will lose tiny seed beads in it. On the other hand, if it is completely smooth, the beads will still roll around. I hope that helps a bit!

          • Katie says:

            Thanks for your suggestion. I think the company(s) who make these mats are missing the boat by not allowing people to order size they need. Even the “large’ mat is way too small for what I would like.

  2. Brenda says:

    Did you know that Beadalon do an extra large beading mat 13 X 18 inches If you want one contact me as we hold them in stock

  3. Liz Hart says:

    Another woman in the states also makes beading boards, similar to the Bead On It boards. People tell me they’re a bit different but that like using both brands.

    • beadflowers says:

      That’s interesting to hear, Liz. I know I find my own boards so useful that I’m not surprised more manufacturers are making them!

      • Brenda says:

        In answer to your question :-
        The problem in making them, is you have to be very careful of copyright / patent infringement.
        Breaking that law can lead into a whole lot of trouble.
        Best to check who holds the copyright / patent before going do anything.
        I know that Silaba crafts holds copyrights on all the items they sell.

        • beadflowers says:

          That’s an excellent reminder Brenda – I didn’t meant to suggest that everyone should head on out there and make their own! Just as with the designs for beading projects, every item and tool that we use is the result of hours of investment of time, thought and money by the people who make them and we all need to remember that and respect it, otherwise we won’t have all these wonderful new things! So, absolutely, if you’re reading this and think you’ve got a great idea, remember to check that it isn’t already copyrighted and get to know and understand copyright law so that if you have hit on something original you understand how to use the laws that are there to help you.

  4. Alli Hare says:

    Hi there,
    I took up beading purely as a hobby approx two years ago.
    I purchased a few different sizes of bead on it boards as soon as I saw them available . At first I loved them but soon found the base material on the boards started to break down and have ” bare ” patches.
    I then saw the bead trays from Silaba Crafts.
    In my opinion they are by far superior. By far a far better design, totally different with a better “wall” plus by far a better base felt that will last and does not lose its quality. Plus the added advantage you can design your own bespoke tray. I now have two and love the crescent shape tray that moulds round your lap. The beads also do not get stuck under the wall .
    As for the Dilly Pads … Love them … I am no longer sorting beads constantly when they get mixed….. Plus if you have different projects … Put project one dilly pads from Silaba crafts to one side and with spare Dilly pads use with beads for project two.
    Alternate within seconds from one project to another.
    Service , quality and design was excellent .
    in my opinion and that of my beading friends Silaba Crafts Get 10/10.❤️❤️❤️
    Ps… Any update on your new book/ instructions Katie with the greeting cards made of from memory delica beads ?

    • beadflowers says:

      Hi Alli, thank you so much for your thoughts. It’s great to hear everyone’s experiences of these products. As regards the book, it is making slow progress, but ‘life’ keeps getting in the way! I’m really pushing to actually publish it later this year and I promise I will keep you all updated once I have more news 🙂 Thank you so much for asking…I will finish it eventually and hopefully that will be soon!

  5. Becca says:

    I understand what you are saying about the patents/copyrights, but U.S. law states that if a product is changed by 10% or more, it is not in violation of anyone else’s copyright or patent. I have found that the Bead Wrangler Bead Boards are far superior to any of the above mentioned boards (I did a comparison review on my own blog of all of them), not to mention better priced. They have better padding, you can choose the mat surface color, she monograms them for free, and she has a double-sided board with a dark surface on one side and a light surface on the other! Now THAT is exactly what a beader needs! She can be found at

    • beadflowers says:

      Thanks Becca – this is a great point. As if the law isn’t complex enough, all laws vary a little bit from one country to another, so it’s great to hear the US perspective. Also good to hear about another bead board…again, not all beading products end up making it worldwide and the US market is so huge that you guys get some really great stuff that we don’t see so commonly outside the US, so thanks for the link.

  6. Celtic Cate says:

    Hi, folks. After reading all the posts, I had to weigh-in on the beading pad ideas. I don’t have a shop and just bead for myself, friends, and family, but I make my own bead mats. Since I often like to watch TV while I bead (versus sitting at my desk), I use a big plastic tray (the kind you can find at dollar stores or other stores during seasonal sales for a few dollars) that I’ve glued a cut piece from an ivory-colored Vellux blanket into. The trays have sides and cut-out handles. I glue the fabric all around the inside to the top of the tray (covering over the cut-out handles) and bottom. By doing this, my projects are portable and I can even just leave my tools and beads in the tray if I don’t finish the project in one sitting. I have several of these and when they’re empty, they stack inside each other. I make larger bead mats from Vellux for my desk when I work on projects when I need to spread out. If you double-hem the edges of the fabric, the fabric is thick enough that the beads won’t roll off. You can slide a piece of shelving pad or carpet pad underneath to make it non-slip. The benefit to making your own bead mats is that you can make them as long and wide as you like (you could even make one large enough to elasticize and fit over the top of a work station or desk). I just roll up my large one when I’m not using it. Also, it’s machine washable and can be dried in the dryer. I found a new full-size Vellux blanket on eBay for under $23 with free shipping, and even after cutting off the bottom 20 inches of the blanket, the remaining piece is still larger than a twin size blanket, so I have a blanket and several bead mats too, so it’s an economical way to make a useful tool.

  7. Lynne Roberts says:

    Hi Katie
    I have just been reading all the comments on bead boards I too would love one of the padded bead on it boards but can’t justify paying the price, as I don’t earn anything from the jewellery I make as its purely for my own enjoyment as I’m battling bone cancer making jewellery for myself and family and friends takes my mind off other things so to speak! !
    Then I found the Bead Wrangler Bead on it Boards their reviews where fantastic and they sounded byfar the best not only in the quality of the boards but the variety of designs and sizes of the boards and best if all the prices for a decent size board of 14″x 11″ I think is around £42.00
    Now the bad news tried to order one and unfortunately they dont deliver to the U.K.
    I e-mailed the company and the only way to get one is if your going to the USA for a holiday then they can mail it to where ever your staying in the USA
    So looks like I’ll have to carry on my search for the time being

    • beadflowers says:

      Hi Lynn, I’m really sorry to hear that. It’s so annoying that they don’t deliver to the UK. If any of your friends take a trip to the US, maybe they could help out? I do know what you mean about the price of the boards and it’s so difficult to afford everything. I’m glad you find solace in the beading – I think it is very therapeutic. You are a brave lady and I wish you all the very best in your battle. Take good care and keep making beautiful jewellery. Katie x

  8. Brenda says:

    Hi Katie
    If any customers in UK want large sizes if the Velux beading mat material. They can contact us as we can cut larger sizes up to 90 inches, and in many colours, at competitive prices.
    We purchase in bulk to put on our trays

  9. Rachael Byfield says:

    I’ve just read all the comments about beadmats/boards and there is an online beadshop called perles and co that sell a fairly large bead mat. They are based in France but postage is very reasonable.
    Hope that’s helpful 🙂

    • beadflowers says:

      Thank you Rachael – that’s great to know. Yes, Perles and Co are a good shop – lots of lovely supplies to enjoy. So, good to hear about the beading mats too 🙂

  10. Dee says:

    I use a ceramic paint mixing palette which has 5 round and 5 rectangular indentations. I have stuck old teeshirt fabric into the indentations with pva glue so the beads don’t roll around. It is easy to pick up the smallest beads from it.

    • beadflowers says:

      That’s a great idea, Dee! Thanks for sharing the tip with all of us. I know there will be others reading this who will find it incredibly useful.

  11. heather Abraham says:

    i d like to know about loom beading

    • beadflowers says:

      Check out the loom beading section in the Techniques area on here – there’s a series of great blogs that will get you started with that technique!

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