Attaching beads so they won't come undone!

The following method of attaching beads to your cross stitch project is simple and secure.

You can use seed beads to replace French knots in a design. They can also represent real jewelry, such as I have done in my 1920's blackwork lady, Pearl, who sports a shimmering bead earring, (shown right) or Coral, who is wearing a pearl necklace.

Seed beads used for an earringFig 1 - a beaded earring

What equipment do you need when attaching beads?

The most common size of bead used to embellish cross stitch or blackwork is a number 11.0 seed bead. Along with the beads you will also need...

Other pieces of equipment can prove useful as well, such as...

These prevent the beads rolling around and getting lost. If you have neither of these, then you could use a piece of corrugated cardboard with the "ribs" exposed.


For storing beads, you could use old photographic film containers (if you still have any) or a specialised storage container. When using the opaque film canisters, I like to tape a sample bead to the top of the pot, so I can see what it contains at a glance.

Another option for storing beads is to use small plastic bags with zip-lock closures. These bags come in various sizes and can be found at craft stores or online.

They are transparent, so you can easily see the contents, and the zip-lock closure ensures that the beads stay secure and don't spill out.

Additionally, you can label each bag with the type of bead or color for easy identification. This method is especially useful if you have a large collection of beads and need to keep them organized.

There is also a page on organizing embroidery floss that you may like to check out.

Attaching beads with cross stitches

Please note, to make the photography below easier to share with you, I have used a tapestry needle and a large bead.

Bring the threaded needle up through the hole which will become the bottom left of the cross stitch. Pass the needle through the bead and take it through the fabric again at the top right as shown in the photograph.

Attachng beads - diagram oneFig 2 - Step 1

Bring the needle up again in the bottom right as shown in Fig 3.

Attaching beads step 2Fig 3 - Step 2

Twist the bead slightly so you can push the needle through the centre hole again. Take the needle back down in the top right hole of the fabric. Fig 4 shows the work at this stage.

Securing the bead in placeFig 4 - Step 3

The last photograph in the sequence shows the finished result, which is a firmly attached bead.

Completed bead attached to your fabricFig 5 - The bead is attached

More ideas for using beads

Even if a cross stitch design doesn't include beads on the chart, there is no reason you cannot adapt the pattern to include them. My blackwork Japanese lady has cherry blossoms in the background, which each have a seed bead in the center, as shown right.

Other ways to use them include ...

  • little eyes for small designs
  • a teddy bears nose
  • the centre of flowers
  • Baubles on a little Christmas tree

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