Good Beading Tension for Right Angle Weave


Do you know how to get good tension in Right Angle Weave (RAW)? How about what constitutes good beading tension in this stitch? Well, if you said ‘no’, or you’re just not sure, then you’ve come to the right place! And the good news is, not only will I be answering these questions, you’re also about to find out how easy this is!

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What is good beading tension for RAW?

Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that there is just one type of ‘good’ tension in beading. In fact, the definition of good tension actually varies from technique to technique.

Or does it?

Well, the way good tension feels is going to vary from one technique to another. But in essence, the definition of ‘good beading tension’ is always the same. It is what allows your beads to sit firmly in the position you want them to.

So, this position will be different with each technique. If you are working Peyote or brick stitch, your beads need to be firmly butted up to one another. So, ‘good tension’ will pull them hard into place.

In RAW, your beads sit more loosely. So, the way you ease them into place is going to vary.

If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about beading tension in general, try this blog. In it, I go into more detail about why tension may vary from technique to technique and what you can do to achieve that.

Here, I want to move straight on to look at how you get good tension in RAW.

How to get good tension in RAW

The problem with RAW is that the beads can end up sitting higgledy-piggledy. So, even if you understand the theory of the stitch (units made up of four beads), if the beads are sitting very unevenly, it can be hard to make out each unit.

(And if you don’t know how RAW works, take a look at this section, which teaches the different elements of this technique.)

I’ve just shown you a diagram and a photo of a little RAW sample. So, in the diagram, you can see how the beads sit evenly. In the photo, they aren’t quite as precise. They’re not bad because the beader who made the photo sample had good tension.

So, how did they achieve that?

Well, as with most stitches, you want to start by pulling your thread firmly, so the beads slip together well.

But, for some people, this on its own isn’t enough. If you can see each unit clearly, then that’s great. But if your beads are slipping about and all quite ‘wobbly’, then maybe your tension needs improving. And the simplest way to do this is just to pass through all the beads in the unit one more time.

Things to watch out for when you use this tension trick

This little trick itself is brilliant. But you do need to watch out for a couple of things.

First, make sure you end up exiting from the correct bead. So, start by making sure you have completed the stitch (ie, added your new beads, then travelled through to the correct exit point). Then, when you do the extra pass through, count four beads – you will always pass through four beads. This should ensure you end up exiting where you are meant to. Naturally, just check this again, but you should be good to continue with the next stitch.

Second, if you are using very tiny beads, or very thick thread, this trick may not work as well. RAW tends to give you several thread passes through each bead in any case. So, you don’t want to fill the bead hole with too much thread on your first pass.

Having said that, though, if you are working with tiny beads, your tension will probably be just fine. The smaller beads don’t have as much scope for moving out of position as larger beads.

So, that is another little thing to watch out for…tension problems in RAW are more common with larger beads.

What should you do next?

Well, now I’ve alerted you to the potential problems with tension in RAW, and I’ve given you a simple little trick to get good beading tension, it’s time to start practising.

So, yes, the best way to solve any beading problem, is simply to practise. That way you gain experience, the technique will become increasingly natural. And, as that happens, your beading skills will improve.

It would be lovely if there really was a quick fix to all these beading problems. But, as with everything else in life, you only acquire skills through patience, perseverance and regular practise. So, if you want to start putting those ‘3 Ps’ into action, use this link to grab yourself a RAW beading project.

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