As you may have noticed, there are handfuls of thread choices out there to choose from when it comes to beading. While it is important for beaders to have multiple bead style and color options, it is equally, if not more important for beaders to use a thread that is both functional and durable that will withstand the beading process and wear.
Different beading projects call for different types of thread. More intense and intricate beading patterns that require lots of thread handling and passes through beads, may require a more substantial thread, while other projects could use a more delicate thread. For beadweaving, looming, and bead embroidery, it is important for you to select a thread that will work well for your specific beading project. As you are well aware, beading requires hours of time and patience and as beads are a vital part of all beading projects, the thread is what brings the creativity together.
THERMALLY BONDED THREADS
There are countless threads to choose from, such as nylon thread, which is used for beadweaving and looming, threads specifically for bead crochet, Kumihomo brading, pearl knotting, stringing, soutache and more. I will focus on those threads another time. For now, I want to specifically highlight a type of thread that the overwhelming majority of beaders favor when creating their beaded designs and those are the thermally bonded threads.
There are two main brands or types of thermally bonded threads that we at The Potomac Bead Company offer. Those threads are Wildfire and Fireline, and many customers ask us what the difference is between the two. Here I want to spotlight the details and provide you with an overview of each so that you know exactly what you’re working with. My hope is that when you’re finished reading this blog you will know everything you need to know about Wildfire and Fireline Beading Thread!
WHAT DOES “THERMALLY BONDED” THREAD MEAN?
I want to start off with defining thermal bonding and what it actually means. Thermal fusion or bonding, by definition, is the process by which synthetic fibers or materials are fused together via a heating process. The heating of the synthetic fibers or materials allows those fibers to melt or “fuse” together to become one. In the case of Wildfire and Fireline, these two threads feature a coated polyethylene material.
WHAT MAKES THERMALLY BONDED BEADING THREADS SO GREAT?
The thermally bonded coating of Wildfire and Fireline gives these thin threads strength and durability and makes them an exceptional product for use in loom and off-loom beading projects and needling projects. Because these threads have a special coating, they require no waxing or pre-conditioning prior to use. In addition, the coating provides a smooth surface that eases needle threading and allows for easy detangling and knot removal. They are developed to be fray and stretch resistant, waterproof, and are able to withstand intense use and consistent wear. Thermally bonded threads are extremely versatile and may be used in a wide variety of beading projects, from beadweaving and looming, to wrap bracelets and more. Many would agree that the functionality and durability of these threads make them a fan favorite.
WHAT DO THE VARIOUS TREAD SIZES MEAN?
When purchasing Wildfire or Fireline beading thread, you’ll notice on the packaging that their thickness is labeled in inches – such as .006 in. This is the actual thickness of the thread and what you want to focus on when determining which size thread you need. The thicker the thread, the less passes it can make through a bead. If you’re working on a project that requires multiple passes of thread through a bead, you will want to lean toward the thinner thread to ensure it fits through the diameter of the bead as many times as you need. Sometimes thread labels also list the pound weight of the thread. This is confusing and irrelevant to beaders. Instead, focus on the diameter of the thread and the length you need and IGNORE THE POUND WEIGHT! I will explain this more later.
HOW ARE WILDFIRE AND FIRELINE DIFFERENT?
Wildfire, perhaps the most popular of thermally bonded threads, is manufactured in the United States by Beadalon. The Potomac Bead Company offers Wildfire beading thread in spools of 20 yards, 50 yards and 125 yards, in sizes .006 inch and .008 inches. At first, Wildfire was only available in standard white and black colors, but Beadalon has added a handful of others to the lineup – Green, Gray, Blue and Red. For some beaders, the color variety that Beadalon offers in their Wildfire thread is what keeps them going back for more. In particular, the green thread, although it seems odd, is very neutral and goes especially well with virtually any color bead. Wildfire’s green thread is Allie’s go-to thread nine times out of ten when she’s working on a project and what we recommend to most beaders when they are determining which color thread to use. Unfortunately, many big box retail stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby do not carry the green color, so be sure to order yours online from potomacbeads.com!
Wildfire Key Points
- Made in the U.S.A.
- 6 Different Colors – Black, White, Green, Gray, Blue, Red
- .006 and .008 Inch Thicknesses
- Spools of 20 yards, 50 yards, and 125 yards
There is often some confusion around Fireline’s branding and what company actually manufactures it. On the label you’ll see the name Berkley, but also The BeadSmith – which lends to the confusion! Also made in the U.S.A, Fireline thread is manufactured by Berkley, a popular fishing supply company. The BeadSmith, a beading supply distributor, purchases Fireline from Berkley and re-brands it as a “microfused braided bead thread”. This thread, or fishing line if you will, was initially manufactured as a strong fishing line, optimized for spinning reels. It was quickly realized that this line was also great for beading which is why The BeadSmith quickly picked it up and branded it as such.
The Bead Smith’s Fireline comes in 4 main thicknesses- .005 inch, .006 inch, .007 inch, and .008 inch. Thicker varieties are also available from Berkley, but those sizes are not generally used by the beading community, they are too thick. In addition, you will notice the labels also list the thread weight in pounds. As I mentioned previously, this is irrelevant and refers to the break strength of the line as it relates to fishing. Ignore the break strength!
Fireline beading thread is available from Potomac Beads in 50 yard spools, in either crystal, smoke, or black satin. A downfall of the smoke color is that the actual color rubs off onto your hands as you’re working with it. Because of this, Fireline developed the black satin color, but the price point is higher than the crystal or smoke.
Fireline Key Points
- Made in the U.S.A.
- 3 Colors – Crystal, Smoke, Black Satin
- .005, .006, .007, .008 Inch Thicknesses
- Spools of 50 yards
WHICH THERMALLY BONDED BEADING THREAD IS BETTER?
When all is said and done, both Wildfire and Fireline are great threads to work with in beading and beadweaving. They are great for virtually any beading stitch – peyote, herringbone, right angle weave, brick, ladder, and more. Their price points are similar and they both have a hefty list of advantages with only one or two downfalls. Both threads are thin but incredibly strong, they are fray and stretch resistant, waterproof, easy to thread through a needle, and while Wildfire is available in more colors, Fireline is available in more thicknesses. If you are in the market for a strong beading thread, give Wildfire or Fireline a try! It’s impossible for me to recommend one thread over the other, I can only recommend that you work with both and test them out! You, the beader, will be the determinant of which beading thread will work best for you!
I hope I leave you better informed on thermally bonded threads and perhaps excited to try something new! Which one is your favorite? Let us know!