Currently I am working on a project and have found that I have had to use at least 3 different sizes (15, 12, and 13), and two different types (sewing and flexible) of needles. What prompted this constant change of beading needles you ask?
As I am working carelessly on this pendant, I notice that I broke a bead, instantly, I blame the bead, because clearly, wonky beads are a beaders nightmare, however, they exist and so I just replaced that one bead and kept a beading. Next thing I know I break 3 additional beads and now my work is looking sloppy and down right poorly executed, so I did what all insane beaders do, I tore the entire edging down (along with the fringe). Tearing down the picot edge wasn’t that big of a deal because it didn’t take me long to put the edging on; the fringe was a completely different story, not only did I waste time (about 5 hours), I also wasted materials (about 2.5 yards of thread) because I was using Nymo thread (and anyone who has used Nymo knows, there is no backing out of it…TANGLES GALORE).
I ended up having to cut the fringe off and so as I wiped away tears of frustration and beads of sweat (totally exaggerating); I found that I needed to plan my mode of execution a bit better the second time around. Hence my topic; there are several needle sizes and shapes, but I am just going to focus on needles sizes and a few needles shapes.
First; needle sizes, for bead weaving needles the most popular sizes are sizes 15, 13, 12, 10, and 8.
Size 15 is he smallest needle and can be used if you are embroidering a delicate fabric like silk, other than that, they can also be used for multiple passes through size 15/0 seed beads. However, their downfall is that they are extremely fragile and will break in an instant (yep I have broken 3 in a row on one project); so if you are going to use these you will need to have a plentiful supply.
The next sizes are 13, 12 and 10, which vary in diameter and can be used for bead weaving and embroidery. Sizes 13 and 12 (most popular) are best for size 15/0 (1-2 passes) and 11/0, 10/0 (2-4 passes) and even 8/0 (multiple passes) seed beads; as well as a multitude of other beads. All three sizes are pretty study but the smaller the size, the easier they will bend, could also break, but bending is the biggest flaw. I weave with bent needles, they literally have to break before I throw them out.
(Note: Passes refer to the number of times you can comfortably pass your needle and thread through the beads.)
Size 8 of course is for 8/0, 6/0, 4mm, etc beads; though I have yet to use a needle so large, to me, they just aren’t necessary, however, if you have poor eyesight or maybe some arthritis, I can see where the larger needle can come in handy. However, the flaw with these needles is that you probably would not want to use them for embroidery because I imagine you can tear up your fabric and smaller beads just will not fit, so unless your entire project is large beads, then really, what’s the point of using them?
Next; needle types, there are your average beading needles (they resemble sewing needles) and then you get into you big eye needles and flexible needles.
The upside of your average needles is that they are found any and everywhere, I believe that sewing needles and beading needles are one in the same actually. However, depending on the thread you choose, threading them can be a bear and those nifty little threaders do not help (I have broken a plenty of needles using them). Normally you have to flatten your thread (using your teeth) before you can maneuver the thread through the eye of the needle. However, if your thread has any fray, threading can be a complete nightmare, in this case, I normally cut the fray away.
Big eye needles are great for threading but I find that the thread will continue to slip out, which isn’t a huge problem since you can just pop your thread back in, but seriously, who want to deal with that when you are completely absorbed in your bead work? Also, they are normally thinner in diameter so you can make multiple passes. However, I have found that big eye needles aren’t as populous as your average beading needle; and I find them to be rather long and cumbersome to deal with.
Flexible needles are FABULOUS, easy to thread and they can maneuver through all types of tight spaces and since they bend, you can pretty much have your way with them without any issues. Again, I find that the thread can slip out pretty easily, though not as much as with a big eye needle. In addition, I have also found them to be even rarer than the big eye needles and since they are essentially twisted fine wire, most brands have this semi-rough surface (not that it will tear through your thread or fabric) but it strange. Advantage of this surface; it s the needle easier to grip (either with fingers or teeth) and I have NEVER EVER broken a bead using a flexible needle. Down side however, they are flexible, so it can be tedious to get them through multiple beads at one time without them bending and popping through a gap.
So needless to say, there are many choices that can be made when selecting needles; though I am not devoted to one brand over another; any brand seems to work just as well as the next. However, regardless of the brand, if you are an avid bead weaver, save yourself a lot of headache and keep a varied selection of sizes, lengths, and types of needles in your stash. Your emotional, mental, and maybe even physical state can be thrown into chaos if you deny yourself needles a plenty.