The Number of Beads in a Package

Sometimes a design does not require a full package of beads, and when kitting you need to count out so many and repackage them. Bead packets, however, are notated in grams. Not much help if you want to count out the number of beads!

If you buy bulk beads directly, the manufacturer/distributor can tell you exactly how many beads are in each large package, but if you need just a few beads (1-2 retail packages for the whole class), it may not be feasible to buy in bulk and warehouse all those extra beads.

How many retail packages should you buy to end up with the number of beads you need for the kits?

That depends on how many beads are in one retail package, and I'm about to tell you!


Yes it does. It depends on the size of the bead and the finish (mattes weigh less than the metallics). Given the same size tube, more Delicas fit into a tube than size 11 seed beads [11/0] because the Delicas are smaller. That is why I put the -gram- weigh on most packages. But then many of the directions I have seen lately call for -ounces-. Beads are sold from the factories to the importers in kilos (2.2 pounds = 1 kilo). Therefore its only logical to resell in grams. "Putup" is not standard in the industry. You will probably be informed on the packaging. My 3cuts are a little over 1/2 a hank per tube... ah. Now you want to know how much that is, I'll bet. Again it depends on the size of the bead. There are 12 11/0 hanks per kilo, but only 10 10/0 hanks per kilo. To be honest, except for the delicas, I fill tubes by VOLUME. I only put gram weigh on my 11/0s as APPROX weight so that designers would have an idea and at least everyone would know you get a lot more than Mill Hill.

Mill Hill Beads:

Glass Seed Beads ("regular" 11/0): 500 bds/pk
Antique Glass Beads: 250 bds/pk
Frosted Glass Beads: 350 bds/pk
Petite Glass Beads: 350 bds/pk [a.k.a. 15/0 European]

How many beads should you put in a kit?

Don't cut it too close! (I took a class with a national teacher whose design called for 5 beads. We had -exactly- 5 beads in the kit. This made me nervous that I would lose one - - which I promptly did - - and the teacher look stingy.)

Remember that beads do get lost, even by the most careful student, and some beads are defective in shape/hole or split when pushed over the needle.

When stitching the model, set aside the "bad" beads so you know exactly how many out of the number called for had to be rejected. What percentage is this number of the number required for the design?

If the design calls for a small number, make it easy on yourself. Double the number of beads. Ex.: 5 beads required; put in 10.

If the design calls for a larger number, to the number of beads required, add twice the percentage that you found to be defective when stitching the model. For example if the design calls for 100 beads and you discovered 10 were defective while stitching the model, you know that there is approximately a 10% fail rate. For the kit, put in 100 beads plus 20 extra beads (10% x 2).

Take extra beads to class.

If you don't care to count individually, find a little "measure" and find out how many beads fill it levelly. For example, use the lid to a vanilla extract bottle, a beer bottle top (called a crown cap), a 1/8 t measuring spoon, a salt cellar spoon, or the cupped end of a Slurpee straw. Make a note of how many beads of a specific type fill your measure so you'll know next time.

Work on a terrycloth towel. Spilled beads will be trapped (more or less!) in the loops and not bounce (as much!). A piece of velvet also works well.

A 2x2" zipper bag usually is large enough for kit beads.

copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis
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