Stretch bracelets are fast and easy to make. Another plus is that they can be as casual or elegant as you'd like.
Stretch bracelets can also be very economical when made with seed beads or leftover beads from other projects. Best of all, they look great stacked together! Get ready to make an armful of stretch bracelets.
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Stretchy Bead Bracelet Materials
This tutorial will show you how to make stretch bracelets with seed beads.
When you choose beads, select ones that are lightweight and don't have sharp edges around the holes. Seed beads work well because their small size makes them lightweight and most have very 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.
Just make sure the beads have smooth holes to avoid cutting or wearing away the elastic cord.
Additional tools and materials to have on hand:
- Stretch cord such as Stretch Magic in a size appropriates for the size and weight of your beads
- Embroidery scissors
- Bead stopper
- Clear craft glue such as E6000 or super glue
- Beading needles such as a collapsible eye needle (also called a twisted wire needle) or big-eye needle unless your beads are large enough to string easily without a needle
- Ruler or measuring tape (if you want to make more than one bracelet)
- Optional: Bead spinner
Not everyone agrees with using glue on the knot of elastic bracelets. Some people say it makes the cord brittle and more prone to breakage. That is not my experience.
When choosing a glue you may want to consider that super glue is by far the fastest-drying option, but it makes it more difficult to hide your knot and makes it easy to accidentally glue your fingers together. You may prefer to use something more slow-drying like E6000 and then simply allow them to dry before wearing your bracelet.
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Prepare a Length of Stretch Cord
Cut a length of cord that is about four to six 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 3 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.
For my bracelet, I'm using 0.5mm black stretch floss cord.
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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 areas of the empty card 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 stand 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 again 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.
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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, we generally use a square knot because it hides inside the beads better. When we are making gemstone bracelets, we tend to use a surgeon's knot, which we find 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.
Do your best to hold the first half of the knot in place, and then 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. We don't recommend that method because the sharp metal edges of the crimps are likely to cut the cord.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Caring for 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.