How to Choose Elastic Cord for Stretch Bracelets

Types of Stretch Bead Cord
Lisa Yang

Beaded stretch bracelets (and finger rings) are economical and easy to make, and they're great projects for all levels of jewelry makers. When you shop for the stretch elastic cord for your bracelets online or at a well-stocked bead store, you'll discover that you have several options. Here is important information to keep in mind when deciding which type of stretch cord to buy.

Types of Stretch Cord

There are three popular types of stretch cord:

  1. The first (and probably most common) is a rubbery, round cord made up of a single strand. Some of the more popular brands are PowerCord and Stretch Magic. Stretch Magic and similar cards come in a wide range of sizes, including large sizes that are perfect to use with large beads. One downside to a cord-like Stretch Magic is that it can be slightly more difficult to knot tightly than other types of stretch cord. Stretch Magic, and other cords like it, are very reliable. Using a surgeon's knot (with an extra half knot) is the most secure way to keep them tied. Many people add a drop of super glue or E6000 to ensure the knot stays securely tied.
  2. The second type of cord is called stretch floss. It's available in a variety of colors but not a lot of sizes. The most common sizes you'll find are 0.5mm and 0.7mm, which are suitable for most smaller beads. Stretch floss is made up of multiple strands of stretchy material woven together. This gives it good stretch "memory" (meaning that it's less likely to stretch out permanently) and makes it easier to knot than most single-strand cord. However, when stretch floss starts wearing out, the threads will fray until the bracelet is hanging by a string, literally.  Stretch floss is less expensive compared to an elastic stretch cord.​
  3. The third common type of stretch cord is a polyester cord with an elastic core. The polyester that coats this cord is available in a wide array of colors, including sparkles and metallics. This type of cord is often used for hair accessories or other applications where the cord will remain visible in the finished design. You can also use it for stringing larger beads; but because of its bulk, its knots may be a little harder to hide. This is not a cord that is meant to be used for long lasting jewelry.

Selecting the Right Size Elastic Cord

It's important to select cord that will hold up to your beads and won't break prematurely. When it comes to durability, cord size is typically the most important factor. Select your beads before you select your cord, and then buy the largest cord that will fit through all of them. Choose a cord that will fit through the beads when doubled over if you plan to use a needle, or as a single strand if your beads are large enough to string without a needle.

Checking the fit of the elastic is easiest if you buy your supplies at a local bead store. Most stores will allow you to test a package of cord on your beads, or they'll have a sample of cord at the counter that you can experiment with.

Knotting a Stretch Magic cord for a bracelet
Lisa Yang

When you are ordering online, check to see whether the hole sizes for beads like yours are listed in the elastic cord item descriptions, and select cord that is just slightly smaller. For most seed beads, size 11 or size 8, you can use 0.5mm cord with a collapsible-eye needle. Gemstone beads can be the most difficult to find the right cord size since the hole is often small compared to the size and weight of the bead. Unfortunately, not all gemstone beads are appropriate to use with elastic thread because of that.

If you are new to making elastic stretch bracelets, these tips to make stretch bracelets that last and 7 common reasons why elastic bracelets break may be helpful.

Watch Now: How to Pick Beads & String for Beaded Jewelry