Seed beads come in various sizes, and using the right size of seed beads is essential for achieving the desired look and functionality in your projects. However, determining what size to use could pose a little bit of a challenge. This is where a seed bead size chart comes in.
Seed bead size charts are important because they tell you the exact measurements -in size and diameter- of a seed bead, thus helping you to be consistent in the seed bead sizes you use. But to use this size chart well, you have to be able to read it.
In this article, we’ll guide you on how to effectively use a seed bead size chart to improve your beading experience. However, before we begin, you can go through the chart for seed bead size to know what one looks like.
While other beads are measured on a metric scale, seed beads are primarily measured making use of aught sizes (pronounced “ought”). When using the aught measurement system to determine the size of a seed bead, you arrange the seed beads next to each other in a straight line until they take up the space of an inch. The number of beads that make up one inch is the size number of the beads.
For instance, if the number of beads on the line is 4, then the beads are aught size 4. A general rule of thumb to remember is that the smaller the number of seed beads that make up an inch, the larger the bead size, and vice versa. So, if 6 seed beads make up an inch here, and 4 seed beads make up an inch there, the 4 seed beads are bigger in diameter than the 6 seed beads because they take up more space.
Aught sizes are typically indicated in the following ways:
- As a number with the word “size” in front of it, for example, size 4
- As a number followed by the symbol of a degree, for example, 4°
- As a number followed by a slash and a zero (/0), for example, 4/0. This method is the most commonly used.
However, it’s important to note that bead sizes may differ slightly depending on manufacturers, manufacturing process, material, and bead shape. It is, therefore, advisable to refer to the specific manufacturer’s size chart whenever possible.
Although there are other ways to determine seed bead size, such as making use of a bead sizing key chain or comparing the beads to common items, nothing quite beats making use of a size chart.
A seed bead size chart is a visual representation that shows a breakdown of different bead sizes and their corresponding measurements for easy referencing. This chart typically consists of columns or rows with numbers and/or symbols indicating the bead size. Most seed bead size charts contain all or some of the following information:
- Seed bead size in aught sizes
- Seed bead size in millimetres
- Seed bead size tolerance in millimetres
- Minimum diameter of holes, with variations on the basis of transparent and opaque colours
- Approximate pieces of bead per kg
Here are a few steps to using a seed bead size chart:
On the size chart, look for the numbers or symbols representing different seed bead sizes. These numbers may be listed in ascending or descending order. Make sure to match the size system used by the chart, e.g. aught system, with the seed beads you have.
Once you have identified the bead size on the chart, refer to the corresponding measurements provided. This can include the diameter of the bead, the number of beads per inch or centimetre, or other relevant measurements.
To select the appropriate beads for your project, you need to consider specific details, such as:
- Your desired outcome
- The technique you’re using
- The visual effect you want to achieve
Ideally, smaller beads are suitable for intricate and detailed designs, while larger beads make a bolder statement.
A seed bead size chart is an essential tool for any crafter working with seed beads. By reading the chart, you can make informed decisions about bead sizes and, ultimately, create stunning designs with precision and intention. The few tips we have provided above will help you to decipher a seed bead size chart and apply it to your next beading project.