TOHO T-Line Beading Thread – what is it?


Continuing my series in looking at different types of beading thread, let me introduce you to another option. TOHO T-Line beading thread. You may not have come across this before. It’s actually not widely available. But it is the most amazing thread for one particular purpose. What is that? Well, read on to find out…

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What is TOHO T-Line Beading Thread?

This is a nylon thread developed and manufactured by the TOHO beading company of Japan. The reason it’s so special is because it is the only beading thread I’ve found (so far!), that is truly clear.

Crystal Fireline thread is pretty clear, but it still has a slightly white finish. For most projects that doesn’t matter. But if you’re using transparent beads, then your choice of thread is critical.

I’ve done a little experiment to try and show you what I mean.

In the photo below, I’ve beaded a few rows of Peyote using transparent crystal beads. So, these are basically pure glass. For the first few rows (bottom), I used black thread. Then, on the next few rows (middle), I used Fireline crystal. For the top few rows, I used the T-Line thread.

Crystal beads, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

Now, bear in mind that no photo is going to capture beads as accurately as you see them in reality. And this gets even worse when you’re talking about transparent beads!

But you can certainly see how the black thread has given the transparent beads a grey-ish hue. They now seem to have a colour, not just look like clear glass.

It’s less obvious in the photo, but the crystal Fireline has also created a slightly white hue. The only thread that truly disappears inside these beads is the T-Line.

Why does this matter?

Now, if you know anything about bead finishes, you will know that ‘transparent’ is a specific bead finish. So, it’s not just the purely clear glass that is affected by this issue. You might be using transparent blue beads, for example. So, these would have a blue finish. It would just allow a lot of light to pass through because it is also transparent.

Lovely as these beads are, one of the problems with using them is that their colour changes a lot within a project. Part of that relates to the beads around them, but a lot relates to the thread you use. So, the T-Line is wonderful if you want to work with transparent beads.

I’m not going to elaborate further on the issues with transparent beads here. You can find more in my section on bead colours, at this link, if you’re interested in this topic.

So, having established that this beading thread is ideal for using with transparent beads, how does it feel to work with?

TOHO T-Line Beading thread, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

What’s it like to work with?

Nylon threads are well-known for their tendency to tangle and knot. For some beaders, like me, they present far more problems in this area than the monofilament threads like Fireline.

Again, if you need to know more about the different types of beading thread that are available, use this link.

The down-sides…

I have to say, the TOHO T-Line thread does tangle, but it didn’t get into terrible knots. I found the best way to use it is to work with short lengths.

You see, there is a reason for the tangling…

Have you ever come across that curling ribbon that is used in gift-wrapping? You know – the stuff that you can tie around a parcel, then pull across a blunt edge, like a ruler, and it pings back into curls…

Well, that is the effect you get with this thread. Each time it passes through your beads, it’s (inevitably) rubbing on the edge of a bead. Over time, this constant friction causes the thread to curl.

So, if you keep to working with short lengths, then you’re not giving it too much opportunity to get to that curled up state in which it tangles.

The up-sides

This thread is incredibly strong. So, it’s great for using with crystals or bugles that might cut other threads.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s also truly clear. So, you can use it with transparent beads and the beads will retain their full colour. I actually used this to great effect when I made a Halloween lantern. I wanted the light to shine through, as with a real lantern. So, this thread really allowed me to achieve that effect.

Halloween Lantern Beading Pattern by Katie Dean

Click here to find my Halloween beading patterns

Top Tips for Working with T-Line

So, I’ve just mentioned that I recommend working with short lengths to help avoid tangling.

The other really, really important tip is: DO NOT use a thread burner on this thread. It will cut the thread, but it also melts the thread. So, some of the resulting ‘goo’ is going to coat the tip of your thread burner. This, in turn, is going to ruin the tip.

Now, you can get replacement tips. So, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s better to know this and avoid the problem!

Then, because this thread is truly clear, you need to work in excellent light. The benefit of not being able to see the thread through the beads can also be a curse. It can be that you just can’t see the thread, period. That’s not ideal when you’re beading. For one thing, it’s easy to get thread caught around your beads and not notice. For another, it just helps when you can see the thread paths as you work.

So, make sure you are working in good natural light. Use a magnifier if this helps.

Would I recommend TOHO T-Line Beading Thread?

Yes…and no!

Yes – this is definitely going to become my go-to thread for beading projects that use transparent beads. I’ll be elaborating more on that in another blog. (So if you want to be sure you get to read that when I post it, make sure you’re on my mailing list).

No – I don’t see this becoming my only beading thread.

The tangling and difficulties in seeing it slows down my pace of beading. And, if I’m working with non-transparent seed beads, there is really no benefit to this thread.

If I want to work with crystals or other sharp-edged beads, then I would consider using this. But I haven’t found too many problems with Fireline thread and crystals. So, I’m not sure that the benefits in this area are enough to make me reach for the TOHO T-Line.

It is also quite difficult to get hold of. In the sense that not many beading shops stock it. So, that is another reason why this may not become your ‘go-to’ thread for everything.

But, if you’re working with transparent beads, then hands down, this is the best thread choice. If you can get hold of a reel, I definitely recommend trying it. And I know I’m going to be making projects in the future in which this thread may be the best possible option.

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3 Responses

  1. Gail says:

    Why are the finished projects so small? I made one with super duo’s and cant realty use it for anything but to put small change in it. I would like guidance on enlarging the item so it can be used to store larger things. I made the boxes. How do I figure out how many beads to use to make it bigger?

    • beadflowers says:

      Gail, the reason the projects are the size they are is because the beadwork tends to lose its ability to hold its structure if you enlarge it a lot. If you want to try enlarging, then you can try adding more rounds to the base and more rows to the sides. The only way to figure out how many beads to use is to do the math to calculate the number of beads per row and then add those up. And yes, this is a time-consuming, tricky, and risky task, as all designers know! But hopefully that answers your questions.

  2. Kathie McMillan says:

    Bobbybeads did have the Toho T-line but sold out. I cannot find the Toho T thread anywhere and have a good sized project ready to start using Lots! of crystal beads. Can you help me find it please!

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