I often get asked what type and beads to use for making French beaded flowers. So instead of replying individually, I will break down in this post. We’ll go over the different types of beads, where to get them, and the best prices for them.
Seed beads come in many sizes. The beads I will be discussing below are standard size 11/0 seed beads.
Japanese seed beads. Japanese seed beads are the best quality beads in my opinion. There are top of the line Miyuki delicas to middle of the road Tohos and Matsunos.
You will pay 3 to 6 USD for 7.5 grams of the Miyuki Delicas, 1 to 3 USD for 7.5 grams of the Tohos, and 3 to 6 USD for 40 grams of the Matsuno Dynamites.
Delicas are used primarily for needle and thread projects where every single bead need to be the same exact size. That is not so important for beaded flowers. I also don’t want to go broke making flowers with Delicas.
Tohos are cheaper and I have purchased a pound of them in the past (15 years ago) in bulk. If you can find a good source, the price can be decent. They are uniform and I like them. I rarely use them though.
The Matsuno Dynamites come in so many colors and finishes that I’ll never be bored of them. They come in 40 gram boxes or 500 gram bags. You can’t beat the price for these quality beads.
Miyuki Delicas: 3 to 5 USD for 7.5 grams
Toho: 1 to 3 USD for 7.5 grams
Matsuno Dynamites: 3 to 5 USD for 40 grams
Where to buy:
Fire Mountain Gems. I source my Dynamites from FMG.
Beadaholique. Tohos have decent prices here.
Amazon. You can also get Dynamites off Amazon if you can’t get it from FMG. The 40 gram prices are kind of ridiculous at 14 USD.
But if you do buy the bulk 500 grams, it drops down to about 5 USD for 40 grams…which is slightly in line with FMG prices. Not great for buying in bulk, but not horrible either.
CZECH SEED BEADS
My second preference for seed beads are Czech seed beads. The two main brands are Preciosa and Jablonex. But they are the same company now. They come in hanks of 6 to 12 strands and price ranges from 3 to 6 USD a hank. A hank ranges from 35 to 40 grams of beads.
Czech: 3 to 6 USD for a hank
Where to Buy:
Beadaholique Beadaholique stocks some fun Czech mixes on hanks.
Amazon.com Surprisingly, Amazon has pretty good prices on Czech beads. Just make what you are buying is a decent price and know when you are buying half a hank or a full hank.
VINTAGE FRENCH OR VENETIAN BEADS
I haven’t tried the vintage French beads but have used the vintage Venetian beads. They are pretty good quality and uniform. Prices are extremely affordable at less than 2 to 5 USD for 50 grams at Shipwreck Beads.
There aren’t many color choices or finishes. But if you are a beginner looking to start making beaded flowers, these are a great choice!
Where to Buy:
CHINESE SEED BEADS
I am not a huge fan of Chinese seed beads. I have tried Ming Tree. They are slightly bigger than the Japanese or Czech beads. So if you are following a pattern that requires some bead counting, you may need to adjust the number of beads used. And of course, your flower will look slightly bigger. They do come in a variety of colors and finishes at extremely affordable prices. If you are a beginner on a tight budget, these would be a good choice.
Panda Hall beads are also available. I’ve never tried them but many of my students have bought them and like them. If you are on a tight budget, and do not live in the US, these would be a good choice since they will ship anywhere.
Where to Buy:
Fire Mountain Gems.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY
eBay. If you live in a place where beads are not as readily available, check out eBay. Just make sure the prices are in line with approximately 3 to 5 USD for 40 grams or a hank of beads.
Local Bead Store. Support your local bead store. Get to know the people. Ask them to source the beads you like or want. Ask them if they have beaded flower books or classes. Tell them they need to fly Fen Li over there and teach a class in their store 😆.
Craft Store. You can get seed beads at your local craft store like Joann Fabrics, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby. But I don’t recommend it. The beads are either too expensive or just junk in quality.
WHAT BEADS SHOULD I USE?
Ultimately, you should buy the best quality beads you can on your budget. If you can swing it, go for the Mastuno and Czech beads. If you’re a millionaire, you can even get the Delicas. Non-millionaires buy Delicas everyday but I’m talking about buying it in the vast amounts of quantities needed for beaded flowers here.
The Chinese beads aren’t too horrible either. There are some odd shaped ones that you’d need to pick out and are larger than the standard 11/0 seed beads. But keeping that in mind, they are an okay choice if you are on a budget.
Here’s a video with just a small sampling of my bead collection.
What are your favorite beads to use?