It’s late at night. You’re happily braiding along watching your favorite television program. You’re almost out of beads on several warps, but you’re not worried. Your braid is almost as long as you need. You keep braiding. You drop in the last bead and reach for your tape measure. So close! You just need to string a few more beads so you can finish up. You reach for the tube of seed beads and… NOOOOOOOO! It’s empty!
We’ve all been there. It’s so frustrating. The key to avoiding this agony is to take the time to accurately estimate how many beads you’ll need for your project before heading to the bead shop. Unless, of course, you’re coming into Design & Adorn. In that case, we’d be happy to do the math for you.
Let’s assume that you’re making a beaded kongoh gumi using seed beads and you’ll be using the same size beads on every warp.
For this type of beaded rope the math is based on the following ratio:
Length of Strung Seed Beads per Warp : Finished Length of Braid = 1:2
In other words, you need half your beaded braid length in strung beads per warp.
For example, if you want to make a 20” necklace you would string 10” of beads on each of your eight warps. This assumes you’ll use magnetic endcaps that fit over your beads and add a negligible length. If using a toggle clasp or other ending that will add length, be sure to subtract that from the total finished length before calculating how many beads you’ll need.
Now that you know how many beads to string on each warp, calculate how many total beads are needed for the project.
Length of Strung Beads per Warp X Number of Warps = Total Length of Strung Beads per Project
For our example necklace, we’ll multiple 10” of strung beads per warp by 8 warps and get 80” of strung beads needed for the project.
Up until this point it didn’t matter what size beads we were using, but now we need to make a choice. Let’s use size 8˚ seed beads. If you string up all the size 8˚ seed beads in one tube* you’ll get 24” to 26”. Let’s be conservative and call that 24” linear inches per tube. Now we can calculate how many tubes we’ll need to buy.
Total Length of Strung Beads per Project ÷ Inches per tube = number of tubes needed
For our example necklace we’ll take 80” of strung beads for our project and divide by 24” per tube to get 3.33 tubes. In this case we’ll round up and buy 4 tubes of size 8˚ seed beads.
Rebecca Ann Combs
PS: Remember that if you’re using a bead spinner you may prefer to have an extra 4-8 grams (about ½ tube) so you don’t have to spin down to the bottom of the bowl.
*PPS: All “per tube” counts are based on the tubes sold at Design & Adorn which are 2½” long and about ½” wide.