How to Sew With Seed Beads

Updated February 21, 2017

Seed beads are small glass beads that are often used to embellish articles of clothing and personal accessories. Seed beads are sold in packages of uniform sizes based loosely on how many seed beads it takes to equal 1 inch. For example, if you are sewing with size 11/0 seed beads, it will take 11 or 12 seed beads to equal 1 inch. Seed beads are available from size 6 to 15; the smaller the number, the larger the bead. Learning to sew with seed beads is a simple process, as long as you can thread a needle and know how to make an up-and-down stitch, you’re in business.

Trace the outline of the pattern onto the fabric with a fabric pen. The marks from fabric pens will wash away.

Thread the size 10 beading needle with 24 inches of waxed beading thread. Pull the tail of the thread about 8 inches through the eye of the beading needle. There is no need to knot the working end of the thread. Beading needles and thread are available at most craft stores.

Insert the needle from the back of the fabric to the front on one of the pattern lines. Pull the thread all the way through the fabric to within 3 inches of the end. Thread one size 8 seed bead onto the needle. Insert the needle back down into the fabric, directly beside the upwards stitch. Hold the 3-inch tail and pull the thread taut.

Tie the 3-inch end and the working thread in a double overhand knot close to the fabric. Reinsert the needle back up through the fabric and the seed bead.

Thread two more size 8 seed beads over the needle. Hold the beads in place over the pattern lines and insert the needle back down through the fabric. Bring the needle back up through the fabric at the entrance to the first bead you added in the set of two. Pass the needle through both beads again.

Pick up two more size 8 seed beads and repeat Step 5. You can continue to follow the lines of the pattern, adding one or two size eight beads at a time. If you are working with smaller seed beads, you can sew an entire line at a time, as long as you couch the stitch. Couching means that you add a line of beads with one up-and-down stitch, then bring the needle back up between every third bead, go around the thread and back down through the fabric. Couching is faster than sewing each individual seed bead in place.

Complete the outline of your pattern, securing the last bead by sewing back through it several times.


Cover the thread pattern on the back of the fabric by gluing felt or other material over the stitches.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric pen
  • Pattern
  • Waxed beading thread
  • Size 10 beading needle
  • Size 8 seed beads
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About the Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.