Updated December 13, 2019.
Popular for a while in the beading world, Tila Beads have only been packaged for the needlepoint world for a few years. The Collection has a selection of colors available. Bead Suppliers, such as Fire Mountain carry a broader array of colors and finishes. They also carry Half Tila beads which are rectangular instead of square.
The beads are flat instead of round. They have two holes so that the thread anchors them to the canvas on each side. They are about 4mm square, so they cover a little bit more than a 3-thread square on 18-mesh canvas.
I used the beads in two projects. Opaque black was used for the plug on my fish mini-sock, above. Because the shape on the canvas was irregular, I stitched the areas that stuck out before attaching the bead.
On the Lee Mini Fan, below, I used Red Aurora Borealis Tilas for the holly berries. Aurora Borealis (AB) is the name for a rainbow finish on many kinds of beads. The beads were both sparkly and transparent.
These beads were incredibly easy to use. Their larger size means that they can be picked up with your fingers. The holes are slightly larger than those found in seed beads, so I could easily use a #28 tapestry needle and two strands of Pebbly Perle to attach them.
To attach them run your thread through one of the two channels. Then run it through the second channel. Although you don’t need to hold the bead down for the second stitch, holding it against the canvas where you want it to be will make a tighter fit.
The beads fit flatly against the canvas. Because they are bigger than many stitches as well as shiny, they make great focal points.
They don’t have sharp sides, so they create a pleasant shape that plays nicely with needlepoint stitches. On the Lee canvas, there were black lines painted between the berries. Although the beads almost covered them, I found the tiny bit of black that showed added a nice bit of depth.
The only caution I have is when using beads with the AB finish. Because there is a fair amount of space between the two holes, the transparency will show in these beads where it is less obvious in seed or bugle beads. Where my red cotton ran through the beads look redder than in the transparent center. If you want the color to be consistent throughout AB beads, you’ll need to use a transparent beading thread.
I just loved these beads and I already have two projects picked out to use them again.