|Miyuki Bead Sizes and Shapes Guide|
Stumped by the differences between Seed Bead and Delicas? Confused by Cut beads and Cubes? Take heart that you're not the only one - the world of beads is immense, with new shapes being introduced all the time.
Luckily for us, Miyuki has produced a handy guide that shows the different shapes for each of their beads, along with some useful information on their sizes. Included in the guide are the types (names) of their beads, a diagram showing the bead shape, hole shape and placement, the size of the bead, the hole size and a sample picture of each bead type.
You can find the Miyuki Bead Sizes and Shapes guide here
Please note, as mentioned at the top of their page, the bead sizes are an approximate measurement for the outside diameter and are in 'mm'.
It is important to remember that the type of coating or plating on a bead can have an overall effect on the bead size. For example, a bead with a 'galvanised' coating may end up being slightly larger than a 'crystal silver-lined' bead - not much difference when you're talking one bead, but if you've got a large loom-worked piece, or a peyote stitched bracelet with a mix of beads you'll soon see how they can skew the line of your work.
But why is knowing the different bead shapes important? Well, that really depends on your beading style and preferences, however some beads lend themselves much better to certain stitches or effects that you're after. Knowing which beads to start with can really take the hassle and disappointment out of making something that doesn't sit quite right when it's worn, isn't quite symmetrical or just doesn't match what you had in your mind. Check out any popular social media beading forums or listen to questions from any new beader and you'll soon see that most problems arise from using the incorrect bead.
Here's an example of how some Peyote stitched stars made in exactly the same way can look and act very differently due to the types of beads used.
The iris blue stars are made using Seed Beads and small silver round beads in the centre, creating a softer looking and feeling star shape. The stars themselves can be easily squashed almost flat or plumped out by squeezing in the sides.
Conversely, the salmon and amethyst stars are made using Delicas, creating a much stiffer and more uniform shape. These stars cannot easily be squashed (in fact too much pressure would cause the stars and/or the beads to break) and are a much better choice for creating a design that you want to keep rigid when worn.
We've listed a few key highlights for some of the beads below that are useful to know, but please remember these aren't hard and fast rules when it comes to working with beads. In fact, we'd encourage you to have a play using different beads with your favourite stitches to see what effects they make and how they can impact on your design choices.
Seed Beads and Delica Beads
It's true! The term 'seed bead' is a generic term usually applied to any small bead, as well as being a type of seed bead too - that may be where some confusion can come from. However, the differences between the two are vast, especially when it comes to stitching with them.
Seed Beads are also known as Rocailles (or Round Rocailles) and are much rounder in overall shape, with soft rounded hole edges. Seed beads are great for more natural or flowing stitches such as Right-Angle Weave, Daisy Chain, Netting, Chenille and Spiral Stitch.
Delicas are also known as Cylinder beads, as their shape is much more tubular than round. These beads are great for tight fitting stitches such as Peyote, Ladder, Brick, and Herringbone. Interestingly though, Seed Beads tend to be more popular for the newer Peyote-With-A-Twist stitch, as some beaders find Delicas to be too stiff.
Of course, these beads can be interchanged with each other to great effect - think Cellini spirals - and are most useful for helping increase or decrease bezels around Rivolis, as each bead helps fill a tiny gap each time the row increases.
Both Seed Beads and Delicas are available in sizes 15/0, 11/0, 8/0, with Delicas also available in 10/0 and Seeds available in 6/0 and 5/0.
Both types of beads also have the 'Cut' variations (also known as 2-cut, 3-cut, Hex-cut) where tiny facets are cut onto the sides of the bead for added reflection and sparkle, but without altering the overall bead size.
The triangular shaped seed beads are available in two forms - as a standard triangle shape which is quite soft and rounded, or as a 'Sharp', with sharply defined corners. These beads are great for adding texture and depth to a flat piece of beadwork, or for creating eye-catching embellishments on spiral stitched pieces. They can be used in the same way as the other seed bead shapes if you want to recreate a more organic and free-form feel to your design.
Bugle Beads and Miyuki Twist Beads
Bugles and Twists (not to be confused with the Czech style Twist beads that look like twisted elongated drops) are similar in shape to each other. They are thin, tubular beads which can vary in length and are great for fringes, beaded drops, netting and even spiral stitching. Bugles can be tricky to work with as the walls of the beads are thin and the holes can be sharp, however 'bookmarking' each end of the bead with a tiny seed beads is an easy way to combat this and adding variation to your design at the same time. They also work well in bead embroidery, for geometrical and linear designs.
The Cube beads (also known as Squares) are perfectly formed little block squares, that come in 3 sizes - 1.8mm, 3mm and 4mm. These geometric shaped beads are perfect for tight fitting and 'locking' or 'zipping' stitches such as Peyote, Brick and Loom-work - think Delicas but more 3D. They can also add angular effects to Spiral Stitch and Cellini; however you'll need to consider how much the beads may protrude from the design and what impact this might have on the wearer. The Cube beads come in array of colours and finishes so it's easy to team them with the same colours in the Seed Bead and Delica range.
Drops, Magatamas and Long Magatamas
Drops and Magatamas are both similar in shape, with a teardrop style silhouette. The Drop bead has a slightly 'pinched-in' tapered neck where the hole is placed, allowing the beads to nestle in between each other, whereas the Magatama drop has a smooth tapered neck that allows the beads to sit next to each other. The Long Magatama looks like an elongated drop that has been cut on the bias, so the bead 'leans' in a certain direction, depending on how you stitch it in place. Although these beads aren't designed to be used as the main bead in off-loom beadwork (e.g. you can't really Peyote or Right-Angle Weave with them by themselves), they are great for edging beadwork, adding embellishments when 'stitching-in-the-ditch and for creating definition and floral effects around a bezel. The Long Magatamas are especially good at reproducing a 'scales' effect when stitched together - perfect if you love a reptilian or dragon style look to your creations.
You can find out more about the technical specifications of these beads and more in the Miyuki Bead Sizes and Shapes Guide here
We hope you find this guide useful for identifying the different beads, when planning and designing your own work and understanding perhaps why something didn't quite turn out as you'd expected - but remember, an unexpected result can sometimes lead you into a whole new world of discovery!
Bead beautifully, as always.