Making Mistakes: How to Correct Five Common Mistakes in Your Beadwork

When I was learning how to bead, I made loads of mistakes. Nobody's perfect, right? And that goes double for me, especially when it comes to my beading. Now that I've been beading for many, many years, I'd like to say that I make fewer mistakes. I'd like to say that, but I can't. Mistakes still happen, no matter how good you are at beading, but I've learned that it's not the mistakes you make when you're learning how to bead that matter — it's how you correct them!

If you need to tear out some stitches, always remove your needle from your beading thread before ripping out stitches. Don't stitch back through the beadwork to undo your stitching!

Correcting your mistakes properly when you're learning how to bead can make all the difference between creating a durable piece of beadwork and creating a piece of beadwork that falls apart when you least expect it.

1. Splitting your beading thread. It doesn't seem like a big deal, particularly when you are learning how to bead, but splitting your thread can create a whole lot of problems with your beadwork. If you prefer to use nylon beading threads like Nymo or Silamide (and I still love my Nymo for bead embroidery!), you should always pay attention to avoid splitting your thread with your needle, even if you condition your beading thread before you start beading.

If you do split your thread, the best thing to do is to remove your beading stitches until you come to the place in the beadwork where the split thread occurred. Leave a thread tail long enough to weave in, trim your thread, and end it there. It's better to start a new thread than to continue weaving with a thread that's been weakened by a split. A split thread can show up weeks or months later as a hole in your precious beadwork!

2. Using the wrong color (or type or size) of bead. This was a biggie for me when I first started learning how to bead, and it still is to some extent. It happens to everyone, and sometimes you don't even notice it until you're finished with your beading project. To correct this mistake in beading, you always have the option of tearing out the beadwork, removing the bead, and replacing it with the correct bead.

If that's not an option, you can always just leave the bead in there and call it a Spirit Bead in the Native American tradition. (Native American beadwork usually contains one bead of the wrong color placed somewhere in the beadwork on purpose to remind of the fact that nothing made by human hands can ever be perfect!)

3. Removing a knot from your beading thread. Knots in your beading thread are just no fun at all. Knots in your beading thread are relatively easy to remove if you are using a gel-spun thread like Fireline or Wildfire, but can take a little extra effort if you're using a nylon thread like Nymo, Silamide or S-Lon.

To remove a knot from your beading thread, insert a beading needle or beading awl into the center of the knot and wiggle it until you feel the knot loosen. You can continue to work the knot loose with your beading awl or beading needle. When you discover a knot in your beading thread, never EVER yank on it! Pulling on the knot will only tighten it and make it even harder to remove the knot from your beading thread!

When loosening a knot in your beading thread, take care not to split your thread if you're using a nylon beading thread.

If you need to break a bead to remove it from your beading project, don't grasp it around the middle with your pliers. You might also cut your stringing material or beading thread!
To break a bead, grasp it around the outside edges and squeeze gently. Don't forget to wear your safety glasses to prevent glass from flying into your eyes!

4. How to properly break a bead. If you find that you need to remove a bead from your beadwork or from your bead crochet project, you can easily smash the bead with a pair of pliers and remove it. The trick to crushing a bead with a pair of pliers and not cutting your thread is all in which direction you break the bead. To avoid cutting your thread, position the pliers so that they are on the top and bottom outside edge of the bead, and then squeeze the pliers gently. Don't put the pliers around the center of the bead — the crushing of the bead will most likely cut your thread as well!

5. Tearing out stitches. Most of us are familiar with "frog stitch", or "rip it, rip it" when we have to tear out a few stitches or a few rows of our beadwork. And did you know that there's a right way and a wrong way to tear out your beading stitches?

I used to bead with a woman who, once she had her beading needle threaded, would not remove it for any reason that did not include blood or fire. When she made a mistake in her bead-weaving, she would stitch back through the beads until she came to the mistake and then remove it. Unfortunately, this method for correcting mistakes in your beadwork can lead to split threads, broken beads, and knots in your beading thread.

Instead, it's always better to remove your needle from your beading thread and then gently pull out each of the beads and beading stitches until you reach the mistake. Yes, this means you have to thread your needle again, but in the long run, it means that your beadwork will be stronger and more durable.

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What's your favorite tip for correcting your mistakes in your beadwork? Do you fix every single mistake in your beadwork, or do you just leave some alone? Leave a comment on the blog and share your thoughts with us!

Bead Happy,


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Bead Making, Beading Daily Blog
Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

19 thoughts on “Making Mistakes: How to Correct Five Common Mistakes in Your Beadwork

  1. It’s funny you should mention adding a wrong bead that happens all the time. Everytime I finish something I find a wrong color bead. I try hard to not do it but it happens. But thanks for the tips.

  2. I have been beading for 5 years, and now I begin to”understand” what I do))) I have made all the mistakes, unfortunately. When I read such articles- it is clear, but when I bead, life seems more difficult))) Anyway, thank you for you wish to help

  3. The very first bead woven project I made was way advanced for me. It was all black crystals of 3 sizes. It is the Black Magic Bracelet pattern from Beading Daily. I actually managed to finish it and it looks very nice. But along the edging where there are 3mm bicones, there is one 2mm! Now I can stop thinking about it and call it my Spirit Bead!

  4. Boy, was this article helpful, partly in letting me know I wasn’t the only one to make a booboo, but also to give simple and understandable hints for fixing said booboos. Thank you


  5. The Native American Beaders believe that if a bead is not the proper one in your project you need to leave it there because it is what we call a ‘Spirit Bead’ and it belongs in the project. I also believe this so always leave ‘Spirit Beads’ in the project.

  6. To help protect the thread when breaking a bead, I like to slip an old needle through the bead. I’ve never cut the thread since I started doing it that way!

  7. It depends on the mistake. This past couple of days I have made more mistakes in three rows of beading that I have in the whole rest of the piece! Leaving them in wasn’t an option, since it is a “sampler” type of piece; fortunately for both the piece and my sanity I’m working in square stitch, which means it isn’t *easy* but at least isn’t as likely to make me throw the whole thing at the nearest wall! All fixed, now, and hoping to go the rest of the way without any more ocurrences.

  8. Hello, I have another way to get rid of a bead that is there by mistake and it will never brake the thread. I simply insert a needle inside the bead and crush it with my pliers. That way the thread is never in the way.
    I hope my English is clear enough as I am of French language.

  9. I learned a trick year’s ago in a class on knotting from Star’s Beads. Take tweezers and flatten/squeeze the knot. It loosens the knot and you can then poke it apart with fine nose tweezers or a needle. This works best on silk thread but i have used it with Nymo too.

  10. Spirit Beads are Awesome! 😀 It really depends on my project if I will leave a wrong bead in. If it is supposed to be perfect for sale or something like that, then I will tear it out no matter how far back it is. I especially remind new beaders that sometimes, if you miss a stitch, or stitch threw a wrong bead, it may affect your work down the line, so best to correct it when you notice it, and beading is great therapy, don’t feel like it takes too much time to go back, if you have to tear it out, it is ok. It may take a bit longer for your project but the joy of beading is there whether we are smooth sailing threw our project, or if we have to back up and rebead here or there… 😀 Bead Happy! 😀

  11. I still work in Nymo for my seed bead design and have grown quite adept at backing out my thread path with the needle w/o splitting my thread (if I catch the mistake early on). The key is to back the needle through backwards as well (eye end first) as it’s blunt and less likely to want to split the thread the way the pointed end would. I will almost always try this approach first then if I see I have split my thread, only then will I concede defeat and take the needle off my thread. Hope this tip helps someone else.

  12. I agree wholeheartedly with taking the needle off the thread and fixing the mistake. Though I have been known to leave the “spirit bead” in the work as it tends to add character to the piece. It also seems to add a touch of whimsy and the opportunity for a good story. But there have also been times when a bracelet sheared off and the best option was to remove everything from a certain point and redo it all. Time consuming, yes, but well worth all the trouble to know that it won’t happen again.

  13. If it is just a few beads or a couple of rows i will back out but if it is several rows and i made many with my first time odd count peyote. I remove the needle and pull of a bead at a time.
    I used a wrong bead and didn’t see it so i leave it when i do notice it. When it is a pattern that uses so many colors that look mixed up anyway i figure it wont be noticed anyway.

    Also is the wrinkled bracelet (for lack of a name) in this book i just ordered.

  14. How many “spirit beads” can you get away with? I just made a ladder stitch bracelet, picking the “rung” beads out of an assorted-color tube of E-beads (hey, I’m an unemployed newbie–they were the biggest beads I had!). But it was late at night, by a 40-watt incandescent. By daylight, it turned out some of my “black” beads were actually blue!