How to Use up Leftover Beads

For almost every project we've ever made, we wind up with a small pile or two of leftover beads. If you find yourself accumulating lots and lots of tiny little plastic bags or boxes that only have a few beads left in them, here are some ideas for you to use them up.

  • 01 of 06

    Make Some Bead Soup

    collection of trinkets, buttons and beads
    Nick White / Getty Images

    Almost everybody we know loves bead soup. What is it? Bead soup is just a mixture of related (or random) beads, thrown into a large container. You can make soup by pouring leftover beads into a small jelly jar or a medium-sized plastic bag. When you need a great variety of beads for a project, you can just take a scoop of soup and get beading! You can also choose to color-coordinate your bead soup—keep one jelly jar for each color: red, blue, orange, green, yellow, black/white and brown!

    When you make your bead soup, anything goes—toss in pressed glass beads, seed beads, bugle beads or pearls and gemstones.

    Beaded jewelry made from bead soup is easy and fun to make!

  • 02 of 06

    Make a Bead Mix

    Delica beads

     Flickr CC 2.0 

    We love using Delica beads, but when we get them from a kit, we always end up with just a few beads of each color left over. One of the things we like to do is similar to making bead soup—we'll combine the leftover Delica beads and make a bead mix. 

    A bead mix is different from bead soup in that it usually only includes seed beads. Bead mixes are great for bead crocheted ropes and other projects where you need a lot of seed beads in lots of different colors.

  • 03 of 06

    Trade Your Leftover Beads in a Swap

    Cropped Image of Tailor Hand Holding Box of Beads
    Alexandra Smart / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Something else we like to do with our leftover beads is trade them with our friends. Sometimes, we'll find ourselves with just a few gemstone beads or seed beads, and we'll offer them for trade with someone who has another bead that we might need. You can arrange your own trade through a beading message board online or at your local bead shop.

  • 04 of 06

    Make Earrings From Leftover Beads

    Filename DIY Wire Chain Loop Earrings
    Lisa Yang

    Earrings are a great way to use up leftover beads. Since earrings don't usually need a lot of beads to make, you can whip up a great pair in no time with your leftover beads. An added benefit is that beaded earrings make great last-minute gifts for friends and family.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Make a Beading Kit for a Friend

    Full Frame Shot of Multi Colored Beads for Sale In Market
    Ratchada Prakobdee / EyeEm / Getty Images

    If you have a friend who wants to learn how to bead, why not put together a beading kit for them and include a few bags or tubes of your leftover beads? Giving your leftover beads away to a friend who wants to get started beading is a great way to get someone else started in beadwork and will help them start their own bead stash! (And you never know—they might return the favor.)

  • 06 of 06

    Other Ideas for Using Leftover Beads

    Close-Up of an Old Jar of Buttons and Jewelry
    Adrienne Bresnahan / Getty Images
    • Donate them: schools, churches and arts organizations might be able to use a small box or two of beads for their art classes.
    • Have a giveaway! If you have a blog, hold a giveaway and use the beads as a prize
    • Make a bead repair kit. This is an idea that is recommended by Marcia DeCoster. Put together a small set of beads for each project you make, label it, and keep it in a safe place.  This way, if you have to make repairs to any project, you'll have a set right there that you can use.
    • Use them to learn a new stitch or technique. Use leftover beads to make small samples or swatches of new beading stitches.
    • Fringe: use lots of different beads to make some wild and funky fringe!