Finding the correct stringing material is an important consideration when creating a DIY jewelry project. There are many varieties of beads; from a smooth stone bead with a large hole to a tiny glass bead with sharp edges. Choosing the correct stringing materials will ensure your jewelry is constructed securely and will hold up to normal wear and tear. Whether you are doing a macrame project or are weaving seed beads with thread, we’ve got you covered! Check out our comprehensive stringing material guide to find the right material for your beading project. 

  1. Types of Cord
    1. Cording
      1. Leather
      2. Suede
      3. Waxed Cotton
      4. Waxed Polyester
      5. Hemp
      6. Jute
      7. Nylon Braided Cord
      8. Satin Cord/Rattail
    2. Wire
      1. Flexible Beading Wire
      2. Brass Craft Wire
      3. Copper Coated Wire
      4. Memory Wire
    3. Thread
      1. Silk Thread
      2. Thermally Bonded/Microfused Thread
      3. Nylon Thread
      4. Illusion Monofilament
    4. Stretch Elastic
      1. Elastic Cord
      2. Gossamer Floss
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Best Materials for Beginner
    2. Waterproof Materials
    3. Different Sized Hole Beads
    4. Material for Knotted Pearl Necklaces
    5. Best Material for Large Hole Beads
  3. Closing

CORDING

Leather

Leather is a classic and extremely popular material used for beading projects, and comes in many different varieties. Round leather cording can be used for making necklaces and bracelets with large hole beads, or weave beads in between the cords to make wrap bracelets. You can finish leather cording off with an adjustable knot, a button, or adding a clasp with cord ends. In addition to round leather, there is also braided leather and flat leather. Use end caps or a foldover crimp with epoxy glue to add a clasp to the ends of the leather. 

Features:

  • Soft yet strong and durable
  • Comes in a wide range of colors 
  • Can be used as a design element 

Varieties:

  • Round Leather
  • Flat Leather
  • Braided Leather / Bolo cord
  • Faux/Imitation leather 

Great for:

  • Necklaces
  • Wrap bracelets
  • Large hole beads
  • Adjustable knots
  • Home decor projects

Suede

Suede is a soft, flat cord that is usually available in a wide variety of colors. It’s similar to leather and can be used for many of the same projects, but it is softer and less rigid. Suede is great to use as a necklace cord for a pendant, simply add end caps or fold over crimps with a little bit of epoxy to the end of the suede and attach a clasp. 

Features:

  • Comes in a wide variety of colors
  • Soft and comfortable 

Variations:

  • Genuine Suede
  • Faux Suede 

Great for:

  • Necklaces
  • Bracelets
  • Fringe
  • Braiding

Waxed Cotton

Waxed cotton is a versatile material that can often be used as a replacement for leather. It has slightly more drape and is not quite as stiff compared to leather cording, but is very strong and can be used with heavier and large hole beads. The light wax coating gives the cord a nice sheen and prevents any fraying, and allows the cord to hold knots very well. Use waxed cotton cord for macrame, braiding, and knotting projects. 

Features: 

  • Strong and durable
  • Won’t break or fray
  • Water resistant

Great for: 

  • Alternative to leather cording
  • Large hole beads
  • Adjustable knots
  • Knotting 
  • Braiding

Waxed Polyester

Waxed Polyester is used for many of the same purposes as waxed cotton. The light wax coating allows it to have grip without feeling sticky. It’s great for knotting, macrame projects, and stringing large hole beads. It comes in a variety of colors and is washable, burnable, and non-fraying. 

Features:

  • Burnable
  • Washable
  • Non Fraying
  • Water resistant

Great for:

  • Macrame
  • Braiding 
  • Knotting
  • Shamballa style bracelets
  • Friendship bracelets
  • Adjustable knots 

Waxed Linen

Waxed linen tends to come in a thinner diameter and have more tacky wax compared to waxed cotton and polyester cording. It has excellent grip, but doesn’t feel sticky on your fingers. Use waxed linen for micro macrame or braiding projects, it also works well when incorporating smaller beads into your project. 

Features:

  • Pre-waxed
  • Not sticky

Great for:

  • Macrame
  • Dreamcatchers
  • Mandalas
  • Knotting
  • Braiding

Hemp

Hemp is a popular stringing material for macrame and braiding projects. It’s coarse texture provides grip for knotting and holding braids in place. It’s quite strong and comes in several different colors. It is also commonly used in home decor projects for it’s earthy aesthetic.

Features:

  • 100% natural
  • Biodegradable
  • Organic look and texture
  • Water resistant

Great for:

  • Macrame
  • Braiding
  • Home decor projects
  • Large hole beads

Jute

Jute and hemp are very similar materials and are often used for the same purposes. Jute fibers are shorter than hemp fiber and it tends to be more scratchy and less strong compared to hemp. Jute is perfect for home decor projects where you want to incorporate a rustic, bohemian texture. 

Features:

  • 100% natural
  • Biodegradable
  • Organic look and texture

Great for:

  • Home decor projects
  • Large hole beads

Nylon Braided Cord (Chinese Knotting Cord)

Chinese knotting cord is a woven nylon cord that has excellent drape. It’s woven texture gives it great grip for holding knots in place. Chinese knotting cord is often used for Shamballa style bracelets and kumihimo projects. It can be burned with a lighter to prevent fraying. 

Features:

  • Braided/woven nylon
  • Good grip to hold knots securely
  • Burnable 

Great for:

  • Macrame
  • Knotting
  • Braiding
  • Large hole beads

Satin Cord/Rattail

Satin cording is similar to chinese knotting cord, but it has a much smoother, silky feel. It’s commonly used for Kumihimo (braiding) projects, but it also works well as a simple cord for a pendant or a couple of large hole beads. Just tie an adjustable knot or add cord ends to finish. 

Features:

  • Nylon or rayon material 
  • Shiny appearance
  • Silky texture
  • Soft and comfortable

Great for:

  • Kumihimo
  • Adjustable knots
  • Necklaces 

WIRE

Flexible Beading Wire

This strong, flexible wire is perfect for most standard beading projects. It comes in three different varieties; 7 strand, 19 strand, or 49 strand. This means that there are either 7, 19, or 49 micro strands woven together and then coated with nylon to create the single strand. The 49 strand variety is going to be the highest quality and most flexible, while 19 strand is mid-tier and 7 strand is the most economical. All flexible beading wire should be finished with a crimp bead. 

Features:

  • Nylon coated stainless steel wire
  • Flexible and kink resistant
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Allows jewelry to drape like cording or thread
  • Consists of 49, 19, or 7 wires twisted together and coated with nylon
  • No needle needed 

Great for:

  • General beading projects 
  • Beads with sharp edges
  • Necklaces and bracelets using clasp closures

Brands:

  • Beadalon
  • Soft Flex
  • Flex Rite
  • Accu-Flex

Brass Craft Wire

Brass is an excellent and inexpensive alternative to gold, gold-filled, and silver metals. It’s very strong and durable, but in thinner gauges it’s easy to manipulate with hand tools. Use craft wire for wire wrapping, making links, and earrings. 

Features:

  • Tarnish resistant
  • Inexpensive alternative to precious metals 
  • Malleable 

Great for:

  • Wire wrapping
  • Links
  • Earrings

Copper Coated Wire

Copper wire is used for many of the same purposes as brass wire, although it’s a bit softer and more malleable compared to brass. Copper craft wire comes in many different colored coatings that have a very durable or permanent coating. Use for wire wrapping projects and french beaded flowers. 

Features:

  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Dead soft, very malleable 

Great for:

  • Wire wrapping
  • Links
  • French beaded flowers

Memory Wire 

Memory wire is a unique material as it completely holds its shape. This makes it very easy to create bracelets and necklaces with, simply string the beads onto the coil and then make a small loop (or glue on an end cap) to hold the beads in place. 

Features:

  • Stainless steel or carbon steel wire
  • Retains the shape of it’s coil 
  • Very easy to finish, just make a small loop at each end of the wire

Great for:

  • Multi strand, bangle-style bracelets
  • Choker necklaces
  • Wine charms
  • Napkin rings 

THREAD

Silk Thread

Silk thread is a classic and very commonly used stringing material. It’s often used for pearl knotting, but also works well with other beads. Silk thread has great tensile strength and only a little stretch. It’s soft and smooth, which will allow your knotted necklaces and bracelets to have an elegant drape. Finish the ends with french wire to add a sophisticated look to your piece.

Features:

  • 100% silk
  • Traditional beading material 
  • Gives necklaces and bracelets a beautiful drape
  • Comes with a twisted stainless steel needle attached to the card
  • Easy to knot

Great for:

  • Pearl and gemstone jewelry
  • Smaller beads
  • Endless strand necklaces

Varieties:

  • Needle-end (comes with needle already attached to thread)
  • Spooled 

Thermally Bonded/Microfused Thread

Wildfire and Fireline are both made by fusing synthetic fibers together by heating and melting (fusing) them together. This process results in an incredibly durable, strong thread that is perfect for bead weaving, bead embroidery, and loomwork.

Features:

  • Similar to fishing line
  • Cannot be pierced with a needle
  • Waterproof
  • Little to no stretch
  • No fray
  • Colorfast
  • Easy to thread with a needle

Great for:

  • Projects requiring a tight tension
  • Seed bead projects
  • Bead weaving
  • Sharp edged beads 

Brands:

  • Fireline
  • Wildfire  

Nylon Thread

Nylon thread is comparable to sewing thread, although it tends to be much softer for beading purposes. Nylon threads are great for projects that require drape and multiple passes through beads such as loomwork or beadweaving. It’s also used for quilting and embroidery projects. Coat your nylon thread with beeswax to prevent splitting and tangling your thread. 

Features:

  • Natural stretch
  • Inexpensive
  • Soft
  • Available in a wide range of colors 

Great for:

  • Loom work 
  • Bead weaving
  • Seed bead projects
  • Quilting

Brands:

  • K.O.
  • Nymo
  • Silamide
  • One-G
  • C-Lon
  • Hana

Illusion Monofilament

Illusion cord, similar to clear fishing line, is intended to be used for “floating” or “invisible” necklaces and bracelets. It’s also used for home decor projects, and is especially great for hanging objects such as ornaments. Illusion cord can be finished by knotting or crimping. Use with stringing plastic, wood, and other non-abrasive beads.

Features:

  • Invisible/clear
  • Similar to fishing line 

Great for:

  • Home decor
  • Hanging objects
  • Floating jewelry designs 

Brands:

  • SuppleMax

STRETCH ELASTIC

Elastic Cord

Elastic cord is a go-to for quick and easy beading projects. This strong, flexible cord can be knotted (and glued) to secure a bracelet. It does not fray and holds up well over time.

Features:

  • Holds it’s stretch
  • Stretches like a rubber band
  • Easy to tie

Great for:

  • Bracelets without a clasp
  • Stacking bracelets

Brands:

  • Elasticity
  • Stretch Magic 

Gossamer Floss

Gossamer is typically used with smaller beads in projects that require a stretchy stringing material. It can be knotted and glued to finish, but is not as strong and durable compared to elastic cord. When it begins to fray, it’s time to restring the piece. 

Features:

  • Made up of several individual stretchy bands bonded together
  • Easy to knot

Great for:

  • Woven stretch bracelets 
  • Projects with smaller, lightweight beads

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Best materials to use for a beginner?

Elastic bracelets are a great beginner project because they don’t require a clasp. Simply tie a strong knot (see our tutorial on finishing elastic bracelets) and add a drop of glue. Memory wire is also a great starter material - all you need to do is turn one end of your wire, string on your beads, and then turn the other end. 

What stringing materials are waterproof/water resistant?

Waxed cotton and waxed polyester cords are generally water-resistant. Thermally bonded/microfused threads, such as WildFire, are also considered to be water resistant. 

How do I deal with beads that have different size holes?

Different size holes are common on handmade beads, particularly handmade glass beads. Try using a smaller spacer bead on each side of the irregular hole to make the irregular holes lay nicely.

What should I use to re-knot a pearl necklace?

Silk thread is the best material to use for knotting pearls. Silk thread has a lovely drape and just a little bit of stretch that will allow the pearls to lay nicely. It’s also very easy to knot. The brand Griffin makes nice silk threads that come on a card with a pre-attached needle. They also make a nylon thread that is an excellent alternative to silk. 

What material is best for large hole beads?

There are several materials that work well with large beads, the most important factor is to make sure the stringing material you select has a large diameter so it fills most of the bead’s hole. Leather, heavy elastic cording, waxed cotton and polyester cords, hemp, satin cord, and nylon braided cord are all great options for large hole beads. If you must use a smaller diameter cording for your project, consider placing a small bead on either side of the large hole bead to make it lay nicely on the string. 

CLOSING

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know in the comments if you have any questions. Happy beading!