4 Tricks to Keep Your Beads on Your Thread

4 Ways to Say Stop

From stopping wayward advances . . .
When I was in college, I studied for a summer in England. Medieval Architecture. I learned a lot, of course, but the real reason I went across the drink was to see the world. I spent my summer session in Birmingham and its surroundings but was eager to hit the continent. I had a Eurail pass, a copy of Frommer’s Europe on $5 a Day (that dates me!), and a whole lot of moxie. Because I’d be a kid traveling alone and a bit nervous, my wonderful U.K. professor, Rob Sawers taught me how to say “stop” in the languages of each of the countries I’d be visiting. I never had to use my newfound skill (I mean really . . . who can say “stop” in Italy?), and it was an absolutely wonderful 6-week adventure.

I laughed to myself the other day, remembering Professor Sawers’s little language lesson as I tied on a “Basta Bead” (the phrase I use for a stop bead). This is a little trick I discovered a long time ago while editing Beadwork magazine. (And by the way . . . are you a Beadwork subscriber? Let’s hope so . . . it really is the best bead rag around.)

. . . To stopping beads
Yeah, not so worried about stopping wayward advances these days. But stopping my beads from sliding off the end of my thread? You betcha. A stop bead is one great way to do it, but there are lots of other ways. Here’s a short list:

  1: Stop Bead
To create a stop bead, simply string a bead (a large seed bead works well) that doesn’t look like one of the beads in your chosen color palette. Slide the bead to within 6" or so from the end of the thread and pass through the bead once . . .
  . . . and then one or two more times. This will hold the beads you string in place for the first row of your project while you get going. You can easily remove the stop bead at any time.
  2: Tape Trick
This is really a no-brainer. Just wrap a piece of tape to the point on your thread where you’d like to start your beadwork. No beads will slip off while you begin, and you can slide the tape off the end of the thread when you’re sure everything’s in place.
  3: Bead Stopper
These little coiled gizmos are great for holding beads in place on stringing wire. But they also work pretty well with thread. Just take care to avoid tangles.
  4: Pinky Stop
This is actually the method I usually use to stop my beads. Wrap your tail thread snugly around the pinky of your nondominant hand while you start the first few rows of a project. No muss, no fuss.

How do you say “stop” (basta, alto, arrêtes, halt, stoppen) to your beads? Do you use a bobbin or other device? Please share your methods on Beading Daily.


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About jeancampbell

Jean Campbell is the founding editor (and currently the senior editor) of Beadwork magazine and has written and edited more than 45 beading books. She has written for Beading Daily and has appeared on the DIY Jewelry Making show, The Shay Pendray Show, and PBS' Beads, Baubles, and Jewels where she gives how-to instructions, provides inspiration, and lends crafting advice. Jean teaches jewelry-making workshops throughout the United States and calls Minneapolis home.

9 thoughts on “4 Tricks to Keep Your Beads on Your Thread

  1. I actually have 2 methods of keeping the free end of my project from loosing beads….

    I usually work with beading wire so I unwrap what I think I’ll need then put the little plastic collar back around the spool and voila! No escapee’s.

    The second is what we’d call “re-purposing” LOL! My mother-in-law was a nurse so she had a bunch of small forceps that she passed on to me. If the project is large and heavy, I wrap the wire 2 times around the jaws of a pair of forceps and click it shut. :)

  2. I absolutely love Jean Campbell’s writing! She could write an entire magazine and I would not get tired of it! Whenever I read one of her columns, I feel like going home from work, pulling out my beads and happily spending the entire day in my beadroom! Thank you for how much of yourself you put in the column!

  3. I thread my needle without unraveling the spool but 1 foot or so then I slide the needle down as I unravel the thread until I have reached my arms length. I then gather the thread on the spool in the same hand as the thread and the needle and with the thread folded into my hand I double the thread as I pull the spool. Now I leave a 1′ for more extra and then I cut the thread off the spool being sure to use the longest or last end of the thread to place a stop bead on the end. Now I simply do a half hitch and I am ready to bead. This keeps the thread from twisting so much and it is easy to know which end to put the stop bead. I take my thumb and index finger and slide off the stop bead later and it was easy. I teach this method in my classes for students to try. Keep what works for you and discard what you don’t like.

  4. I found a product called E Z mini Hook in a small beading shop a couple of years ago. It is available online. The origingal use is for electricians holding small wires. These little gadgets work great on wire, thread and fireline. They hold tight and don’t get in the way or catch like the little spring holders

  5. Great tips on loosing all those beads on the floor. I always put an end on one end of what I am stringing and once I have completed the design I always hold it up tp see if all is well, prior to finishing. More than once I have held my design up in the air to look at, Alas !!!!! have lost all of my beads to the floor. Some seem to get eaten up by the bead monster, never to be retrieved. Hadn’t really thought of putting a bead stop on the other end until I read your tip….Sometimes the light bulb does turn on !!!!! Perhaps now I can sweep my dining room floor more often, as there will not be so many beads and findings to pick through prior to sending the dust kitties to the trash.

  6. Thanks for all the great tips for straying beads. No one told me when I started making jewelry that I would spend 85% of my precious time on the floor……… searching for the strays, and YES!!! Janine there IS a bead borrowing/stealing monster!!