Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (40) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Embroidery with Beads – Thread Follow-Up!


Amazon Books

Last week, I we chatted about using certain types of fishing line for embroidery with beads.

I distinguished what I mean when I say “embroidery with beads” (as opposed to “bead embroidery”), we looked at the difference between using embroidery floss for fixing beads in place (which is a perfectly acceptable way to sew bead accents onto embroidery projects), and I recommended the two types of line that I’ve used for embroidery with beads.

The article generated a Massive Amount of Questions, so I thought I’d break from regular programming and answer a few of those. Here on the website, I’ll link to this article from the original article, in the hopes that it will be helpful to future readers, too.

Using Fireline and Nanofil for embroidery with beads

The Recommended Fishing Lines

First, just to clarify, for adding beads to your embroidery, I’m not recommending every type of general fishing line available. Please, please don’t go out and buy just any fishing line!

I’m recommending two that I’ve used with success, that work well for me: Fireline and Nanofil. Both of these are sold in the beading world, where they’ve both proved good choices for this type of application.

Some folks mentioned that nylon would not be a suitable material to use. Fishing line is not always made of nylon. Many lines are composites of a variety of materials these days. These two, I believe, are actually a kind of resin.

These particular lines are not slippery, either, and they don’t fly away from you. They’re a little stiff and “toothsome.” I would say they grip, rather than slip.

Using Fireline and Nanofil for embroidery with beads

How to Start & End Threads

And that brings me to the point of how to start and end threads with it. Many folks asked how to do this, given that fishing line is so slippery.

This stuff can be tied in a nice knot and it holds very well! (Many silk threads I’ve met don’t hold a knot like this stuff does!)

You can start and end the line with a knot or by running the line under other stitches.

If you want to use a knot, you can use a regular knot on the back of the fabric (there are many cases in embroidery where it’s just fine to use a knot on the back of your work) or you can use a waste knot on the top, stitch towards it, and snip the waste knot when you’ve covered the leading line enough to hold it in place with your stitching.

Using Fireline and Nanofil for embroidery with beads

To end a thread, run it under your stitches on the back or whip it around your stitches, and then do a little hitch knot (that’s what I usually do). This works fine. You can trim the end a little closer to the hitch knot than the end in the photo above.

It’s a little hard to see that line on the white background – the scissors are pointing to it.

Even if you don’t do a little hitch knot, the line holds when whipped or when run under a line of previous stitches. It’s grippy, not slippy!

Scissor Warning!

I should have mentioned this in the previous article – a few of you brought it to my attention.

Don’t use your best embroidery scissors for cutting this type of line. It’s tough stuff, and it will take a toll on your scissors. If you have scissors that you use for metal threads and the like, those would work great. I keep a few pairs of cheaper, but still fine-tipped and sharp, embroidery scissors on hand for cutting metal threads or this type of fishing line.

bead embroidery with fishing line

Cost & Resources

Several of you pointed out that, when branded for bead embroidery (by Beadsmith), these lines are more expensive than buying them in the fishing section of your local sports store or department. True, true! You’ll get more line for the price if you can find it in a sporting goods store or sporting goods department in a big box store.

That said, I can never find it at Walmart or Dick’s or any of the sporting goods shops or departments in nearby cities. This has always been a source of wonder to me. I don’t know if it’s because there are lots of people out here in Kansas who buy it to fish with (I mean, we do have fishing out here… but that much?!) and leave all the other line hanging in the store, or if there are crowds and crowds of beading enthusiasts in Kansas who buy it all once it shows up on shelves. Whatever the case, I can never find it out here, nor equivalent substitutes. I end up having to order online when I need it.

So that’s the follow up! Feel free to ask more questions if you like, and I’ll try to answer them one way or another!

Hope November is off to a great start for you!

Coming Up on Needle ‘n Thread

Well, I hate to mention that Thanksgiving here in the States is only three weeks from Thursday! Lots to do before then!

Before Thanksgiving (if all goes as planned), but perhaps not until right after Thanksgiving (supply chain and all), I’ll to be releasing this year’s Christmas project in kit form! That way, you won’t have to search for the supplies I use. The kits are replete with beads, specialty threads, charms, linen, wool felt… They’re such fun little ornaments! I can’t wait to show them to you! I’ll have a kit and an e-book available.

At the end of the month, I’ll be running A Stitcher’s Christmas, which is a give-away series here on Needle ‘n Thread running up to Christmas. It includes all kinds of beautiful embroidery gifts for you. If you want to be in on that, I highly recommend that you sign up for my email newsletter if you are not already signed up, so you don’t miss any episodes. Essentially, the newsletter is the website post delivered to your inbox. It comes every time I publish an article on Needle ‘n Thread.

A Sea to Stitch will be in stock this week! If you want a copy, drop me a line and I’ll send you an advanced notice email so that you’ll know right away that it’s available.

A few more Stumpwork Masterclass and Goldwork Masterclass books will also be available at the same time, if you want to do your combined Christmas shopping a little early.

In my stitching time, I’m still plugging away on my version of this goldwork rose. But there hasn’t been a lot of serious stitching time lately!

Happy November!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(7) Comments

  1. My first experience using beads was a couple of years ago, when I used seed beads and bugle beads for a constellations quilt. I had completed almost half the quilt top when I discovered that my previously-sewn bugle beads were disappearing. I learned the hard way that the edges of the bugle beads were cutting the threads I had used to sew them down. Fireline quickly became my friend!

    1. Yes, those bugles are notoriously sharp and they, as well as some crystals, will cut through Fireline too. The workaround is to put a small round seedbead, like a Japanese 15/0 or a Czech 11/0 on either end of the bugle. You can always have a small stash of clear rocailles on hand that won’t interfere with your design.

      Also, the cheap Fiskars kid’s scissors are the best thing to cut Fireline. The ends are a little blunt but most of the time that’s not a problem. If you need something pointy that won’t get ruined there’s a model of Xuron nippers made specifically for Fireline. They leave a nice clean end for threading the next needle. Always thread from the end coming off the reel if you want that “tooth” that grabs the beads.

  2. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for these further details. I have used fishing line in the past, which was indeed slippy and not grippy! Truly frustrating! Now I have a nice stocking stuffer to suggest! Thanks, again.

  3. Dear Mary

    Thanks for these tips on the fishing line thread very useful. I’ve looked online here int he UK and it’s very cheap to buy a great idea concerning the scissors it would be a shame to ruin a good pair of scissors. I can’t wait for your coming Christmas delights I do hope I win this year. The Christmas project kit sounds great I can’t wait for the e-book, I will definitely look out for that. Thank you for sharing the fishing line tips and techniques with us and for the photos above.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Really interested in grippy-not-slippy fishing line. I’ve used invisible thread and that’s definitely slippy-not-grippy. What would be bad about using nylon exactly? It would be nice to have a better option than I’ve tried so far (when not just using floss for beads which are parts of stitches).

More Comments