Charted Waters

When I went down the rabbit hole of bead embroidery – sometime last year – I was very impressed by some kits and we brought them in and offered them in the store and online.

It occurred to me when choosing which ones I thought would be appealing – that some folks who already have lots of beads would rather have just the charts, instead of the kits, which include the beads.

I got some of the kits for myself, and they were great fun, and so I decided to try one of the charts – that doesn’t come with beads. After all – I have lots of beads!


I was chatting with our Anne-Marie about this decision, and she was “No way – I knew right off that I would rather have the kits with all the beads included.” And I have to concede – she has a point. While the charts are appealing for their budget friendliness – they do add another level of effort that is not present in the kits – which is to figure out which beads to use!

So I thought I would share with you how I have been approaching this.

First off, I started with this chart – Summer Trio

Beautiful, isn’t it. Some of you who may be smarter than me are probably saying, O.M.G. – look at how many different colors there are!

I apparently picked THE most complicated chart we have – which is completely typical for me.

If you look at the bottom of the charts – there is a key printed – with symbols used, the Preciosa product number, and the third row is the number of grams of the beads that you will need.

not the key for this kit – not nearly enough colors! – but a better photo than I have of the key for this kit

The beads that these charts are designed for are the Preciosa Czech-made size 10/0 seed beads. Unlike the kits, which use difference sizes of beads, the charts are at least not complicated by multiple sizes.

There are 40 grams, more or less, in the standard hank of size 10/0s, so a hank will easily do you for each color of all the charts we have – even the ones that don’t have as many colors as this one. I am going to have a lot of left overs … .

BTW – I have take photos of the keys for each chart – admittedly – some of them are not great, but I was in a hurry to make them available. They are on the page with the chart as additional photos. If you need better ones, lmk and I will do a better job, if you want to see it in detail before you buy a chart.

Preciosa has a downloadable pdf of all their product numbers, so I downloaded it, and printed it out. They have a website too, where you can just type in their number and it will tell you what the item is. I despaired of typing in all 28 of the numbers and looking them up one by one, but you might be stauncher than I. Also – the website was running really slowly, although it is much better today when I tested it. It finds the close matches as well as the exact, so you do have to use some common sense.

Of course – we didn’t use the Preciosa product number when we gave our bead SKUs (Stock Keeping Units – numbers to identify each item in the store) for reasons that are complex and technical and practical too. Sometimes you can’t read the label.

I printed the pdf and started looking up the numbers from the chart. That was educational – because I then realized that the same basic number gets used for the same color in shiny and matte.

This was the first inkling that I had of the scale of the project.

Then I took my marked up copy of the product list and on a day that I needed to work in the store, I wandered around with the list and looked for the colors I needed – because at this point, I had discovered that my stash of seed beads was less comprehensive than I had imagined – leaning heavily to metallics and blue. I realize that at this point in time, this is not an option for you – and I feel your pain. Trust me – we miss you all too.

Here is where it really hit home – the hanks of beads just added up and added up. Ok – I needed a transparent topaz, green, teal, dark green, dark aqua, silver-lined this and terra that and blah blah blah. And, of course – stuff we didn’t have – so some decisions had to be made about substitutions. If what I need is light and a dark version of this, and we don’t have it, then how about a light and a medium this instead?

So then – it was time to get organized.

When a project gets out of hand with it’s size – it’s time to break it down into itty bitty pieces. Like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. Not that I would eat an elephant. Unless it was a chocolate elephant. A life-sized chocolate elephant. Just imagine.

In the top corner of the pattern is a butterfly. The butterfly has antennae. The pattern calls for “brown with white circle edge.”

sorry about the camera shake/focus/blur

Which would be a dark brown, looking at the butterfly. There is some obvious black in the body and next to the antennae, so dark brown seemed reasonable. I had selected one of my colors as “65002387 Czech Seedbeads – 10/0 Seedbead – Purple Brown Lustred (hank)

And, because at this point, I was afraid of losing track of what I was doing – I put the hank in a baggie and wrote “27” on the front – the number from the color key.

Number 27 is brown with white border is Purple Brown Luster.

On the chart, on the side, folded around to the back, is a duplicate of the color key, with a little scissors icon. I cut that off, and – in an amazing act of organizational discipline – stitched 6 sample beads into the square with the “brown with white” segment of the chart.

This is an my reference key, in progress, further to the left from where I started. You can see that I haven’t needed #2 color yet, so I haven’t determined what it is yet. But the butterfly was all about 3, 4, 5, and 6.

So I did the antennae, one bead at a time, and then went looking for other “brown with white edge,” but only on the butterfly. I really needed to see some progress!

After that, I tackled “yellow with black edge” – Number 4, Opaque Yellow, then “white with black edge” – Number 1 – white – I went with a White Luster. Etc. One bite at a time.

Yellow achieved. Black too. That was an obvious and easy one too.

The colors on the key are not an exact match for the colors you are using – but they are a good indicator. I think that it would be way too confusing if they were an exact match, and you would be at the mercy of the quality of the printing on the day it was produced. So a color with a contrasting border is a good way of doing it.

So, now that I have been working on it for a bit, I am feeling more confident. My sample strip is invaluable, and now that I am working on larger blocks of color in the wings, I can do two or three beads at a time – “light circle with dark edge is transparent topaz, dark with yellow is matt, so topaz, topaz, matte” – that’s the kind of mantra going on it my head.

I also eventually figured out that black was not necessarily the best color thread for light transparents, and so switched to cream thread for some of the colors.

It might have been ideal to mount this on a frame to work it, but I’ve been muddling by fine so far, just carefully rolling the edge.

And here’s a view of the back.

So – once again, I have bitten off more than I can chew, plunged off the deep end, experienced trial by fire, and just generally gone for the gusto. But so far, so good. I’m happy with this so far.

If you have any questions – feel free to ask.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: beadFX Inc., 19 Waterman Ave., Unit #2, Toronto, ON, M4B 1Y2, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact