We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Bead Embroidery?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated Feb 08, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Bead embroidery is the technique of making designs on fabric using beads instead of, or in addition to, embroidery thread. The beads are attached with either a tough beading thread or several strands of standard embroidery thread. A variety of knots and stitches, usually those that are also used in traditional embroidery, are used to hold the beads in place. Beaded designs have a lot of appeal because they are three-dimensional and the beads provide a rich, varied texture that can’t be obtained with conventional embroidery.

Any fabric can be used for bead embroidery. Backing will often need to be applied to provide adequate support for the weight of the beads. The fabric should be placed in an embroidery hoop or similar device that can hold, but not stretch, the material. For a stand-alone design, such as a bracelet or a necklace, use very heavy material such as leather or suede as backing; a lighter backing will work for other material. The completed design is either created directly on the desired article or cut out and worn alone or stitched to another item.

When choosing what needle to use, the main requirement is that it is able to fit through the hole on the beads. Tiny seed beads require a small, sharp needle, while tube beads, pony beads and other beads with a relatively large hole allow the use of a much larger needle. It is always possible to use multiple needles to accommodate work with various sizes of beads.

Many people who do bead embroidery use patterns that are either ironed or drawn on the fabric. Iron-on patterns can be purchased from craft or fabric stores. They don’t have to be specifically intended for bead embroidery, because any design meant to be applied to fabric will work. Patterns can also be drawn freehand on the fabric with a pencil or disappearing marker. The main purpose is to give the beader a guide for the project.

Virtually any kind of beads can be used for bead embroidery. When working with beads, different sizes, colors and styles are used to create different effects. Faceted beads give a geometric look while tube beads fill in shapes or outline areas of the pattern. Smaller, round beads are often attached in groups of three or four and are used to create spirals, circles and other free-flowing designs. It ultimately is an artistic decision made by the beader as to what kinds and colors of beads to use.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By SarahSon — On Jan 18, 2012

@Mykol - Bead embroidery can really be a lot of fun. There is no end to the creative things you can do with beads.

If this is something you are interested in doing, I would suggest seeing if you could take a class somewhere first. I found this to be invaluable for me when I first learned how to create things with beads.

I went to a class at a local craft store, but some adult education programs will also offer them. This will give you an idea of what you need to get started.

There are many wholesale online companies where you can buy beads from. I have ordered from a company called Fire Mountain, and they also sent me a free catalog which is great for looking through.

You can order just about every kind of bead you can imagine from glass beads, to seed beads and everything in between.

I started out using patterns for most of my beginning bead embroidery projects. Now, I feel confident enough that I design a lot of my own patterns.

By Mykol — On Jan 18, 2012

Where is the best place to buy bead supplies to use for bead embroidery? This is something I would love to learn how to do, but don't know much about it.

I ran across an online bead embroidery tutorial, and was immediately interested in the unique items you can make with beads.

There are so many different kinds of beads to choose from and I think I should be able to find them cheaper than at the local craft stores.

A couple local stores have a large selection of beads, but I would like to find a place that has better pricing and even more items to choose from.

By myharley — On Jan 17, 2012

Some of the most exquisite bead embroidery I have ever seen is made by a lady in Colorado. My family goes camping and hiking every year here, and there is a shop close by that carries many of her items.

She uses all different kinds of bead embroidery stitches and beads and combines them with pieces of stone and metal objects. These are some of the most beautiful and elaborate jewelry pieces I have ever seen.

Every year I treat myself to one new piece, and always get compliments when I wear pieces of her bead embroidery. I will usually buy a necklace or bracelet, but she also makes decorative collars.

She has a beaded center to the collar and then attaches elaborate beads around the collar. These are all one of a kind pieces of jewelry.

I don't have any idea how much time it takes her to complete each one, but know that a lot of time and effort goes in to all of her jewelry.

I wouldn't have the patience to work with beads like this, but enjoy the finished work of someone who does.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.