Beading needles can be more difficult to thread than sewing needles because they are thinner, more flexible and have a smaller eye. In order to make as many passes as possible through a bead, the beading needle eye is about the same thickness as the needle itself. That means trying to get your thread through the tiny eye of a beading needle can be frustrating.
Threading your beading needle doesn't have to be difficult, though. Try a few of these tips and experiment with different types of needles and thread to find out what works best for you.
Choose the Correct Needle and Thread
Before getting started, make sure you choose the correct thread size for your needle and beads. Don’t try to thread a 20 lb test weight of gel spun thread, which is very thick, through a size 13 beading needle, which is the smallest size needle. It will never happen.
Good Lighting and a Solid Background
The right environment can help more than you think. A well-lit room combined with a solid background that contrasts with your thread will make it so you can see the thread and needle eye more clearly. Magnifying glasses are often helpful with beadwork tasks, especially needle threading.
Prepare the Beading Thread
The process of threading the needle may be slightly different depending on the type of thread you are using.
For nylon bead thread such as Nymo, condition the thread before you try to thread your needle. You may want to add an additional application of thread conditioner on the end that you will be threading through the needle. This will help bind the fibers of the nylon thread together and make them less likely to split. Trim the thread end on a slight angle.
For gel spun or braided/bonded fishing line types of beading thread such as Fireline, WildFire, DandyLine, and PowerPro, flatten the end of the thread tip before trying to thread the needle. This can be done by squeezing the thread end between flat nose pliers, using your nails, or you can flatten it by drawing the tip through your closed teeth. Flattening the thread makes it easier to fit through the elongated eye of the needle.
Needle Threading Technique
Now that your thread is ready, it is time for the technique. Most people hold a rather long thread end and try to push the thread through the eye of the needle. It's time to try the reverse and push the needle eye onto the thread!
Hold the thread between your thumb and index finger with a small piece, about two to four mm, extended past your fingers. Push the eye of the needle onto the flattened or conditioned thread. Most times, it will slide on easily on the first try.
However, if you try several times and the thread is not going in the eye, try turning the needle and threading through the opposite side of the eye. The way needles are manufactured, one side of the eye can be smoother than the other. This minor difference can affect how easy it is to thread the needle.
Needle Threading Tips
Once you are “on a roll” with threading your needle, thread several needles with lengths of beading thread. It is convenient to keep a stash of needles pre-threaded and ready to go. Thread several needles with lengths of beading thread, and make sure that you slide the needle down to about halfway down the thread. Tape the threaded needles to a piece of cardboard or to a surface from which they can easily be removed, and you are ready to bead whenever the mood strikes.
One other tip is that you can purchase needle threaders from sewing supply companies that may help when threading your needle. Needle threaders are also used when threading sewing needles. Make sure when looking for needle threaders you only buy ones that are specially made for beading needles. Their smaller eye will not work with threaders made for sewing needles.
Last, but not least, remember that like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more you practice threading your needle, the easier it will be.
Edited by Lisa Yang