The best beading thread for transparent seed beads


If you have any experience with choosing bead colors, you may have discovered one thing… Your beading thread changes the color of your beads. Seriously. Now, this is the case with pretty much all beads. But for many, you may not notice it. The real problems start when you want to work with transparent beads. So, what is the best beading thread for transparent seed beads? Let me tell you…

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What are transparent seed beads?

Now, for anyone who is new to beading, you might not realise that bead colors are dictated by two factors. The color – obviously – and also the finish used on the beads.

You may have noticed some strange words included in the descriptions of your bead colors. Things like, ‘silver-lined’, matte, opaque, color-lined, galvanised, Duracoat, and of course, transparent.

These are the types of finish used in the manufacturing process. They help to define the color of the beads. But they can also have an impact on the durability of that color over time.

Now, I don’t want to go into this in too much detail here because I’ve covered it in another blog. So, if you want, or need, to learn more about the different seed bead finishes, use this link.

Today, I want to focus on the transparent finish.

Now, you might be thinking that I’m only referring to crystal clear beads. Yes, these are certainly transparent. But you can also add color to this type of finish. So, you might have transparent red or transparent blue, etc.

I’m sure this is all pretty obvious. The glass remains highly transparent, i.e. you can see through it, but it has had a hint of color added.

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Why are transparent beads difficult to use?

Now, as I discussed in a blog about working with bead colors, this can be pretty confusing. (Click here if you want to read the blog post). You see, in the bag or tube, the color of these beads looks pretty strong. But, as soon as you start working with individual beads, the color becomes a lot less intense.

That’s simply because you’re seeing a lot of light through the bead, and this tones down the impact of the color.

It also means that the transparent beads will somewhat take on the color of the beads around them.

Worse still, because they are transparent, you’re going to be able to see your thread through them. So, your choice of thread is going to have a critical impact on the final appearance of your transparent beads.

Take a look at the photo below. I’ve used completely transparent crystal beads. In the bottom rows, I used black thread. So, you can see the beads have become a more grey color. As I worked up the strip, I changed to crystal fireline thread, then to a completely transparent thread. Can you notice the difference?

What's the best beading thread to use with transparent seed beads? Katie Dean, My World of Beads

(For more information about beading threads, take a look at this section of the website)

What’s the best beading thread for transparent seed beads?

As with most beading questions, there isn’t a single answer to this.

Basically, it depends on the effect that you want to achieve. Plus, you should take into account your comfort while beading.

So, how do you want your transparent beads to look?

TOHO T-Line or Beadalon Supplemax

If you really want them to appear fully transparent with no visible thread, then one of the best beading threads is TOHO T-line. I’ve written a full blog post on that, which you can read here. You’ll see in that, I’ve talked about my experience in using the thread.

TOHO T-Line can be a little difficult to find. So, if you want another truly ‘invisible’ option that is stocked in many beading stores, then look out for Beadalon Supplemax. This thread is available in a lot of different sizes, as it has many different uses. So, if you want to use it for a bead-weaving project, then you should look for the 0.15mm size reels. You can find out more about this thread in this blog post.

Yes, it these are some of the best for working with the beads, but this type of thread can be a bit frustrating for working with. So, that’s what I mean when I talk about your comfort. If you’re constantly untangling thread, or struggling to see it, then your beading experience may not be that pleasant.

(I used TOHO T-line to good effect in this Halloween lantern beading pattern)

Crystal Fireline

Now, the crystal Fireline can also be a good option. It’s not perfectly clear, but it is clear enough. So, your colored transparent beads may just feel a little lighter with this thread. Your crystal transparent beads, as you see above, are still going to look pretty clear.

The biggest issue arises in areas where you’re stepping up, or changing thread. Basically, as soon as you have more than one thread passing through the beads, the color of your thread becomes more noticeable.

So, if you’re working in tubular Peyote, for example, you always have a step up. This runs in a diagonal line through your work. When you’re using transparent beads, the thread is going to emphasise that diagonal line. In most cases, it’s not a huge problem. But if you are a real perfectionist, it’s this kind of tiny detail that can annoy you.

Colored Thread

Many nylon-based beading threads come in a range of colors. I’m thinking of brands like Nymo, One-G, KO Thread, Durathread, and many more.

So, obviously, this is going to REALLY show through your transparent beads. Not just to the degree of being aware of the thread, but actually to re-color your beads.

Surely that means this is a very bad choice?

Actually, no. This is a design opportunity.

Take a look at my ‘It’s Wine-o-clock’ necklace in the photo below…

It's Wine-o-clock beaded necklace, Katie Dean, Beadflowers

Use this link if you would like a copy of this necklace tutorial

Are you wondering how I achieved the effect of the wine INSIDE the glass? (Yes, there is some stuffing in there too, but…)

I used red thread. So, this literally showed through the transparent beads, making them take on the red color. But it has the effect of the color being inside. Just as you would see wine inside a clear glass. For the rest of the glass, I used crystal thread to avoid discoloring the beads.

So, you see, this knowledge gives you the opportunity to make deliberate design decisions.

What’s the answer?

The best beading thread for transparent seed beads is whatever you need it to be!

First, consider what effect you want to achieve with your beads…

Then factor in your comfort. Which thread do you enjoy using?

If you find a clash in these two answers, you may need to make a compromise. For example, you want your transparent seed beads to remain truly transparent, but you hate working with nylon thread. Well, TOHO T-Line is your best choice for transparency, but it is also a nylon thread.

So, do you…

  1. compromise on your comfort and use my tips for working with T-Line to avoid some of its pitfalls…or…
  2. compromise on the transparency and use crystal Fireline because it’s easier to work with and will be ‘good enough’

That’s not a decision I can make for you. As with many beading questions, it’s a matter of taste.

But at least now you’ve got the facts and some points to think about. So, you are fully qualified to decide on the best beading thread for transparent seed beads… to suit you and your beading project.

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4 Responses

  1. Yvonne says:

    Thank you, dear Katie, for another lovely contribution ♡
    I am really interested in your opinion about TOHO Amiet thread. It comes in 18 colours. Works from 11/0.

    • beadflowers says:

      You’re very welcome, Yvonne! Thank you for your kind words.
      I haven’t tried the TOHO Amiet thread yet…I will have to look out for some and see what it’s like. Thanks for asking about it.

  2. Sandra Carey says:

    Please could you let me know what size needle to use for the Beadalon Supplemax, or tips on threading, I don’t seem to be able to thread it into a size 12 needle. Is it me?

    • beadflowers says:

      The size 12 needles do tend to have quite a small eye. So, I would use size 10 with this kind of thread. Hope that helps!

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