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Monday, January 09, 2012

The Skinny on Thread for Big Projects

Dear beadFX:
I’m going to be doing a large project using Size 11/0 Delicas in Peyote stitch. The project is over 15 inches across.What thread would you suggest using?

Dear Thread Confused:

Generally speaking, Fireline, PowerPro and One G have little to no stretch, whereas Nymo can stretch quite a lot. Given the total weight of the beads you will be using, this could be a factor if the project is free-hanging. If it is supported on some kind of backing - then this may not be as big a factor. Projects of this size can be heavy!

The problem with PowerPro is that it has a severely limited colour set. White is the only generally available colour, but you might be able to find the yellow, red or green at a large fishing supplies store. If your colour palette is generally dark or you are using a lot of transparent beads, the colour is going to show through or between the beads and could alter the overall colour of your project in ways you hadn't intended.

Fireline is also limited in colours. The so-called "Crystal" is actually a white-ish colour. The smoke-grey is preferable because it tends to recede into the background and is much less noticable. However, if you are using smoke-grey Fireline, be sure to wipe the thread with a tissue or cloth several times before you start to bead with it. This colour is coated with a graphite powder to make it slip more easily on a fishing line, but for beadwork, it can rub off onto your hands or the beads. It does come in a large range of sizes, though. If you're just doing straight peyote without any embellishments that would require more passes through the delicas, the 6 lb weight is a good compromise, but you could go to 8 lb. I prefer a size 10 pony needle for this kind of work.

Both Fireline and PowerPro are stiffer than either Nymo or One G, so overall, your piece will be stiffer with these two.

I highly recommend doing a test strip with a project this size so that you can compare the stiffness and weight of different threads and make sure that the results meet your expectations!

That said, I consulted with some other folks that I know that have done large pieces, and they all recommend that you make several smaller panels which were then stitched together. Most of them suggest loomed work too.

The general consensus  - and I concur - is that black nymo D on a cone would be the best choice for you. I say on a "cone" because we have found that the stuff on the small bobbins does not "handle" that same way that the coned stuff does. It's smoother and doesn't seem to fray as much. We don't have it on our website yet, but it's on order.

The coned nymo comes only in black or white. It's not produced in colours. People who have done a lot of seed beading say there is even a difference between the black and the white nymo and that the black is superior, for some not quite definable reason.

The other piece of advice I have is to split the picture into 4 to 6 parts and do them separately, then join them together. This will mean less weight overall and less chance of the piece getting warped out of shape as it drapes over your hands and your lap while you are working on it. Also minimizes the chance of a corner getting snagged on something and ripping when it gets quite large.

Hope that helps!

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