Beading: Bead Types

How about a crash course on the most popular bead categories and types? They'll be a test later...

So why are we so adament about not using anything but glass beads or real stones? Hot irons. Presses. Hours of work gone in 5 seconds or less! If you're going to put all that time and effort into a project, don't cheap out at the end with imitation beads. Not only will your garment or piece reflect the lower quality beads, but if you do happen to catch one with your iron, it will melt. It is simply not worth saving $2 on your bead cost.

Seed Beads

  • "H" (cut beads): Usually the same size a seed beads, but with 6 sizes. Hexagonal or an irregular cut. The flat surface causes more light to shine from the bead.
  • Bugle Beads: Shaped like a tube, smooth or with 6 sides. Sizes from from 2mm to 40mm. Light also reflects very well off of a bugle bead.
  • Roundel: These are more donut shaped, with a center hold. They're available in both smooth and faceted form. Many times they're set with rhinestones.
  • Faceted Beads: Lots of shapes and sizes, but they all have flat surface either cut or molded in a regular pattern.
  • Drop: Any bead shaped like a pear, with a hole at the narrow end or lengthwise through the bead.
  • Fancy: Anything not listed above, but with a hole that you can sew through.
Seed Beads


  • Freshwater: Suppose to look like Rice Krispies! Can be tinted or naturally colored.
  • Cultured: Real pearls, but started by human hands. It takes between 1 and 7 years for a pearl to grow depending on location and whether it's freshwater or seawater.
  • Baroque: Irregularly shaped pearls. They're also called faceted pearls and nugget pearls.
  • Costume: Otherwise known as "plastic pearl". They're coated with a pearlescent material. Do not dry clean. Do not iron. Do Not Use!
Freshwater Pearls


  • Cups: Round with a faceted surface and a bowl-like shape that helps to reflect the light. Center hole.
  • Flat: Round in shape with a flat surface. Center hole.
  • Paillets: Round in shape, larger then a standard sequins with the hole close to one edge. This allows them to dangle free on one end. "Dress-up" and costumes use paillets frequently.
  • Fancy: Anything not listed above: flowers, stars, snowflakes, hexagons, seasonal shapes etc. Various materials and sizes. Check before using for color and material stability.
Sequins Variety

Sew-On Jewels & Rhinestones

  • Jewels: Flat back style with a mirror finish on the back. Sew in place by using the holes drilled in them; 1, 2 or more depending on the size and shape. Remember, don't use the plastic ones.
  • Sew-On Rhinestones: Most times round in shape, secured in a metal bracket. There are two or more channels on the back to pass your thread through. Check the metal before using them, try to use only stainless to avoid them rusting and destroying your garment.
Tearddrop Gems