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The Ultimate Guide to Needles for Jewelry Making

When working with finer bead stringing materials such as nylon and silk threads, you'll find that using the correct needle is a must! Check out our needle guide to help you find that needle that will work best for your project. 

Collapsible Eye Needles

Collapsible eye needles are great for general beading projects. They are flexible, kink resistant, and come in fine, medium, and heavy gauges. They have a large, collapsible eye that makes it very easy to thread your cord. While they can accommodate many different cord sizes, collapsible eye needles work best with medium to heavier weight cords and medium to large hole beads. 

Big Eye Needles

Big eye needles are used for similar purposes as collapsible eye needles. They are available in long and short lengths, typically 2.25” and 4.5”. They have an extra large eye that spans nearly the entire length of the needle. It’s made of two pieces of stainless steel wire that connect at the top and bottom, but are open in the middle. The center bows out to make threading very easy. They are flexible, bend very easily, and are pointed at both ends. Big eye needles are good for working with elastic cords and other heavier stringing materials. They are not well suited for bead weaving or projects that require multiple passes through a bead. 

Twisted Needles

Twisted needles are extremely flexible, they bend and flex more than other needles. They have a large loop eye, which collapses after passing though beads. Because of this they are not typically re-usable. They are great for stringing pearls and gemstones on silk thread or ribbon cording, or using with curved beads or beads with odd holes. They are too flexible for off-loom bead weaving. 

Curved Needles

A curved needle is a needle that is in a C or a J shape. They are designed to be used with a bead spinner, which is a bowl with a handle that can be spun quickly by hand. It’s typically used with tiny seed beads. The beads are emptied into the bowl and when the bowl spins, the beads will jump onto the curved needle. This process is much faster than manually stringing small beads for projects that require long rows of beads, such as fringe. Curved needles usually have a big eye to make threading easy. 

English and Japanese Beading Needles:

English and Japanese beading needles look similar to a sewing needle, but they are thinner, more flexible, and remain the same width from point to end. They are great for making multiple passes through beads, which makes them perfect for loom beadwork as well as off-loom beading stitches like peyote, brick stitch, herringbone, netting, etc. They are also great for bead embroidery. They are long lasting, and can be used for several projects before breaking or becoming unusable. They are typically available in sizes 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15. Size 10 is the heaviest gauge, while 15 is the finest. They have a very small eye, which makes the needle more difficult to thread, but it holds the thread in the eye better and is less likely to come unthreaded. Japanese needles are very similar to English needles but they tend to be stronger and more durable. They bend and break less often, and they have a slightly rounded point that makes it harder to pierce your thread when making multiple passes through a bead.

Elastic Cord Needle

An elastic cord needle is more like a tool than a needle. It’s used to plan out bracelet designs before stringing. It’s 8” long with a hook on one end, and a large loop on the other end. The loop holds your beads in place while you string them onto the needle. Once your pattern is complete, you use the hook end to attach the cord, and pull the beads onto the cord. The elastic cord needle can also be used with other stringing materials, such as beading wire and polyester cording.