Not only are stretch bracelets fast and easy to make, but they also can be an economical project. Grab some leftover beads from another project and you can have an armful of stretch beads in no time. Plus, depending on the beads you choose, the bracelets can be as casual or dressy as you like.
When selecting beads, look for ones that are lightweight and don't have sharp edges around the holes to avoid cutting or wearing away the elastic cord. Seed beads work well because their small size makes them lightweight and most have smooth holes. You can also use plastic beads, including vintage Lucite beads, pony (kanji) beads, or designer acrylic beads from a bead store. Many kinds of wood and shell beads also work nicely.
Equipment / Tools
- Embroidery scissors
- Bead stopper
- Beading needles (collapsible eye needle or big-eye needle)
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Bead spinner (optional)
- Seed beads
- Stretch cord (such as Stretch Magic)
- Clear craft glue (E6000 or super glue)
Prepare a Length of Stretch Cord
Cut a length of cord that is about 4 to 6 inches longer than your desired bracelet length. Affix a bead stopper about three inches from one end.
Pre-stretch the elastic cord by taking a length about three inches long and stretching lightly, move down and stretch the next section until you have pre-stretched the entire length. This will prevent your stretch bracelet from sagging.
This bracelet is made using a 0.5mm black stretch floss cord.
String Beads on the Elastic Cord
Unless your beads are large enough to string without a needle, thread a collapsible eye or big-eye needle onto the other end of the stretch cord and fold over a two-inch tail. This step is optional if you're using beads with very large holes; in that case, you can often string them directly onto the cord.
String all of the beads for your bracelet. Check the length occasionally by wrapping the strung beads around your wrist. Be sure to leave a little space between your skin and the bracelet, so that you can roll it over your wrist without breaking the stretch cord. This also helps to ensure that no empty areas show through. Make sure that the last bead you string has a hole large enough to hide a knot in your beading cord.
If you plan to make a stack of bracelets using the same beads, measure your strand now and jot down its length so that you can replicate it. If you make another bracelet using smaller or larger beads, you should check for fit with those because you may need the bracelet to be slightly shorter or longer.
When you are working with small beads like these that are all the same size, mixing in a few beads with a larger hole will make it easier for you to hide the knot.
Knot the Stretch Bracelet
Knotting your stretch bracelet takes the most practice. The ends can be slippery and the last thing you want is to drop the cord and see all those fabulous beads slide off the end.
For stacking seed bead bracelets, the square knot is best because it hides inside the beads better. With gemstone bracelets, use a surgeon's knot, as it is a little bulkier but more secure.
Remove the bead stopper and the needle from the elastic cord, and then bring both ends together. Carefully make the first half of a square knot, gently pulling the cord ends to remove slack in the bracelet.
While holding the first half of the knot in place, tie the second part of the knot and pull firmly to secure. It can be tricky at first to complete a knot without losing tension in the bracelet and allowing spaces to form between the beads. If you do lose tension, try pulling both ends of the cord away from each other to take up some slack. After completing a few bracelets, this should become much easier.
Some people use crimp beads rather than knots to secure the ends of the stretch cord. This method isn't recommended because the sharp metal edges of the crimps are likely to cut the cord.
Hide the Knot on a Stretch Bracelet
While holding the bead away from your knot, apply a tiny drop of glue to the knot.
With the glue still tacky, hold the cord between two beads about an inch away from the knot, and tug gently to pull the knot inside of the adjacent bead.
Trim the Stretch Cord Ends
Let the glue dry before trimming the cord ends. This will make it less likely that the knot will loosen when you are trimming them.
Once the glue has dried, gently stretch out each cord end. Then, use embroidery scissors to trim the ends close to the beads.
Wear Your Stretch Bracelet
Once the glue has dried, your new stretch bracelet will be ready to wear. In the meantime, you can make a few more bracelets to wear stacked, and even string up some shorter matching finger rings.
While beaded stretch bracelets are economical and fast to make, they do not last forever; eventually, your bracelets are likely to break.