If you are a new beader, let me save you a lot of grief by pointing out 6 common beading mistakes most people make when they first start beading. A lot of people that have been beading a long time, are still doing one or more of these things! How many are you doing?
1. Cutting too big a piece of thread
When I first started beading, I was so afraid of having to change thread that I would start out with about 3 arms lengths of thread. Every time I made a stitch, I would pull and pull and pull. Don’t do it! Your thread tangles (I spent half my time getting out knots), your thread degrades microscopically every time you pull it through a bead, so the longer it is, chances are it will be all split up by the time you get to the end of it. You are causing yourself a lot of aggravation when it is really quite simple to finish off one thread and begin another one.
2. Not Enough Tension
This problem really shows up when making 3-dimensional items like stars and ropes. If you don’t keep tight tension on the thread, the object will become all loosey-goosey and look a bit lopsided. This is a skill that comes with a lot of practice, but generally speaking, try to keep the thread as taut as possible. If it is too loose, you can always weave back through the piece to tighten it up. Sometimes you have to do this anyway, no matter how tight you hold on to the thread.
When I made this clasp, I had a "death grip" on the thread but still had to go around it several times to get it all "tightened up".
3. Splitting Thread
This is a big one. This usually happens when you want to rip out a mistake and you “sew back through” the beads. The needle has a good chance of slicing through the thread as it goes back through a bead. You will begin to see the thread separate into strands instead of being one cohesive unit. This causes the thread to not be as strong. I have literally seen the thread deteriorate so much that it just broke off when I pulled it through a bead. (this is particularly a problem with Fireline Smoke) To stop this from happening, always take the needle off the thread and pull it back through each bead. I know it's a pain, but you will save time in the long run.
4. Not using the right beads
When you first starting beading, all those bead types might seem very confusing. Delicas size 11/0 are very different from seed beads size 11/0. Bicones, rondelles, rocailles, rounds, tubes, 6/0, 8/0, 11/0: so much to learn! Sometimes, different beads can be substituted in a pattern, but not always, or it might turn out differently then intended. If a bracelet pattern is all Delicas, you can’t substitute a seed bead for one of the colors. When you have some experience working with the beads, you will know what will work and what won’t. That said, don’t be afraid to experiment. It is OK to rip things out and start over because you don’t like it (as long as you follow rule #3). Color combinations don’t always look like you thought they would. Transparent and translucent beads don’t always look right in a pattern. That’s OK. It's better to have a piece of jewelry you love, rather than a piece you wish you had done differently.
5. Not Reinforcing your work
When I first started beading, I made this beautiful necklace by Linda Richmond, Caged Bead Necklace. It was similar to the other necklace of hers that I made, Circle Medley. It is pictured below. The first time I wore it was Mother’s Day with my mom. We went shopping for clothes and when I got home, the necklace was no longer hanging around my neck. Somewhere along the way, it had broken off. I re-traced my steps and that necklace was nowhere to be found. I was heart broken. What I had failed to realize was that all those little circles created what I call “pull points” this is where parts of the piece pull on each other. These parts need to be reinforced. Clasps are obvious pull points, but there may be other points as well. Those single strand circles of seed beads need to be reinforced several times as well as and spots where one piece is joined to another. It's helpful to pull on the piece and see where the parts tug on each other. Don't lose your necklace like I did!
6. Missing the Step-up
I don't know how many times I lost the step-up, but just kept beading. Of course, then your circle, or tube, becomes more of a spiral and you lose the reference of where you started.
The step-up is that extra bead you have to go through at the end of a 'circular' round. You finish the round, by stepping-up through the first bead of the round.
For most things, take wharped squares to make stars for example, the step-up cannot be overlooked. The more you practice at it, the easier it is to keep track of it. The more you have to rip out your work and start over, the more determined you will become to keep track of it the next time! As soon as you notice you missed the step-up, STOP, go back and you will find where it got lost. Don't keep beading, it might not matter for this piece, but it probably will for the next one!
Now that these 6 common beading mistakes have been brought to your attention, you will be able to avoid making them in the future!