Learn to Bead

What is beadweaving?

We think of beading as anything one can do with beads: from stringing beads into a necklace to embellishing a tassel for a curtain tie-back. Within that huge area, beadwork is the art or craft of using beads with threads or yarn. It encompasses a wide variety of traditional crafts, such as embroidery, knitting, crochet and weaving either with a needle or on a loom.

Beadweaving has a long history dating back to the Ancient Egyptians and beyond and is practiced in many countries around the world. Weaving on a beading loom generally produces flat pieces of self-supporting fabric in one stitch, whereas weaving with a needle can produce a wide variety of stitches to produce both flat and three dimensional work.

Beadweaving with a needle is an incredibly versatile craft that can produce almost anything you can imagine, from jewellery and little whimsies to the most elaborate and detailed sculptures. It is very easy to get started and the basic equipment is very reasonable.

Take a look at the Guild's gallery to see an amazing variety of beadwork.

What do I need to get started?

One of the great things about beadweaving is that it is cheap to get started, although once hooked you may spend quite a bit more on those sparkly beads!

The basic equipment includes a beading needle, beading thread, a beading mat to work on, small sharp scissors and of course beads. There are many different types of bead available on the market but the most popular beads used in beadweaving are size 11 seed beads and cylinder beads.

Where can I learn to bead?

Traditionally beadweaving skills have been passed from generation to generation, but with a resurgence of popularity in recent years there are many ways to learn these skills today. You could join a local beading group, attend workshops, take a distance learning course, learn from books or watch YouTube videos. The choice will depend on your preferred way of learning and what resources are available to you.

If you have difficulties locating sources of learning, please visit The Beadworkers Guild website where you will find a list of beading groups around the UK, beading shows that we visit where you can ask for help in person, books published by the Guild that can help you to get started and a very reasonable beginners bag that has everything you need to start your beading journey. If you become a member of the Guild you will also have access to free stitch workbooks that will teach you all you need to know about each individual stitch. www.beadworkersguild.org.uk

Free resources

Below you will find an introduction to beadwork/beadweaving with lots of tips and a variety of basic stitch instructions to help you get started on your beading journey. If you are already a beader and would like to pass on your skills please feel free to use these resources for teaching.

Please note that these resources are the property of The Beadworkers Guild and are for your personal use only or for passing on your skills without profit.