Originally made popular by jewelry designer Chan Luu, these bead and leather wrap bracelets are still super trendy today. It's easy to see why they remain popular. The design is simple but versatile. It has endless combinations by changing the color of the leather cord, varying the number of times it wraps around the wrist and, of course, the types and sizes of the beads.
Best of all, this stylish bracelet is super easy to make by stitching beads onto cord using the same technique that is used to weave beads on a loom.
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Leather and Bead Wrap Bracelet Materials
These instructions use 4mm faceted Czech fire-polished glass beads and magatama beads. A wide variety of beads are suitable for these bracelets, but the 4mm beads are a good size to start with if you have never made one before. You can substitute any beads that stack to a similar size as the 4mm beads in place of the magatama beads. I chose three specialty finish colors for the Czech beads.
The quantities listed below are per 7 inches of bracelet band. For a longer band, divide the total inches by 7, and multiply that number by the quantities below.
4mm round Czech fire polished beads:
- 15 of color A (I used olivine copper)
- 15 of color B (I used HurriCane raspberry mint ice cream)
- 15 of color C (I used aquamarine celsian)
- 12-15 of color D (I used opaque turquoise)
- 12-15 of color E (I used gold luster green tea)
Additional supplies needed for the bracelet are:
- 6-pound smoke colored Fireline beading thread
- Size 10 beading needle
- 2mm round Greek leather black cord
- Sturdy side cutters (also called flush cut wire cutters)
- An office clipboard
- Masking tape or painter's tape
- A measuring tape
- Ruler or yardstick (to measure the leather cord)
- Thread burner
- 17mm antiqued pewter round leaf print button
- Optional: C-Lon beading cord in black.
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Measure and Cut the Leather Cord
Start by wrapping a measuring tape around your wrist as many times as you'd like wraps in your bracelet. Adjust the tape so that it looks just a little looser than you want your bracelet. The extra space is to adjust for the thickness of the beads that takes up some of the length. Write down the length.
For the bracelet in the example, my measurement was about 24 inches.
Add 12 inches (30.5 cm) to your measurement, and then double that number. This is the length of leather cord you should cut. This is a little more cord than you'll actually use but gives you plenty of room to make the final knots.
- Wrist measurement: 24 inches
- 24 + 12 = 36 inches
- 36 x 2 = 72 inches of cord
Cut the cord with side cutters.
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String the Button Clasp
Thread the cord up through one hole in the button and down through the other. Make adjustments until the button is centered on the cord.
If you would like, you can tie a tight overhand knot with the cords just below the button to keep it in place. From my experience, this is mostly a question of aesthetics; I haven't noticed any real difference in the way the bracelets wear with and without the knot.
However, I prefer wrapping a piece of C-Lon cord around the button end of the bracelet a more finished appearance and encourages the final wrap to lie flat against your wrist -- without the added bulk of another knot in the leather cord. (see step 17)
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Secure the Cord and Begin the Thread
The clipboard is used to hold the bracelet project as you are working on it. It will hold the leather cord securely while you weave the beads in place.
To begin, clamp the button end of the cord beneath the clip on your clipboard.
Use the side cutters to cut a strand of Fireline that is at least two arm's spans long. (Longer thread is more difficult to work with, but reduces the number of times you need to start a new thread.)
Thread the needle for double-strand beading, so that your needle is in the middle of the cord and both ends are the same length. Leave the thread ends loose.
Bring the ends of the thread together, and use a square knot to tie them around one strand of the leather cord close to the clip on the clipboard. Leave a pair of thread tails at least eight inches long so that you can weave them into the beads later to hide them.
If you are right-handed, I recommend you tie your thread onto the left cord (as shown); if you're left-handed, tie it onto the cord on the right-hand side. This will make it easier.
Use a piece of tape to hold down the thread tails.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
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String and Position the First Bead
Pick up 1 bead of color A with the needle, and slide it all the way down on the thread. Alternatively, you can hold the bead in place with one hand and use your other hand to pull the thread through it.
Pass the needle beneath both strands of leather cord, and use your finger to push the bead up between them.
Because I'm right-handed, I passed my thread beneath the cords from left to right. If you're left-handed, you should pass them under from right to left.
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Stitch the First Bead
Pass the needle back through the bead on top of both leather cords.
Use your fingers to hold the bead in place while you pull the thread taut. Pull slowly to avoid tangles, and make sure that both strands of your double strand of thread pull down snugly against the leather cord. If the thread does begin to tangle, stop and straighten it out before the knot tightens.
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String the Second Bead
Pick up 1 bead of color B and slide it down. Pass the needle and thread beneath both strands of leather cord again, and use your finger to push the bead up between the cords.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
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Keep Stitching Beads
Stitch another set of 1 color A, 1 color B, and 1 color C, and then stitch a group of 3 magatama beads (bead D) as if they were a single bead.
Stitch two more sets of beads A, B and C (for a total of six beads), and then stitch a group of 3 magatama beads in color F.
Alternate between those two sequences as you continue to stitch beads.
Stop and end the thread (see the next step) when you have only eight inches remaining to work with. End with a 4mm fire polished bead. In the example, I completed almost nine inches of beadwork before I arrived at this point.
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End the Old Thread
To weave in your old thread, turn the beadwork over and pass the needle back through the last bead that you stitched. By turning the beadwork over, you are stitching beneath the leather cords, rather than on top of them.
Tie a half-hitch knot over the thread exiting the bead you just passed through.
Turn the beadwork over so that it is right side up again, and pass back through the bead again, on top of the leather cords.
Turn the beadwork over again and pass back through the bead on that side.
Turn it back over, right side up, and pass through the bead one last time.
Use a thread burner to trim both strands of thread close to where they exit the bead.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
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Complete the Beading
Keep beading, stopping to add a new thread whenever your old thread begins to run out. For my multi-wrap bracelet, I needed to add thread a few times. As the band starts to become long, take the time to stop occasionally and check its length by wrapping it around your wrist.
As the bracelet gets longer, you may feel comfortable working with the bracelet removed from the clipboard.
The point at which you stop adding beads is a bit of a judgment call. I stopped when the band felt loose enough to wear comfortably and there was a gap of about 1.5 inches between the last bead at the end and the button at the beginning when I wrapped the band around my wrist.
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Weave in the Thread Tails
Go back and weave in and trim all of the remaining tails of beading thread. Try to thread both strands of each tail through the eye of your needle; if you have trouble doing this, you can weave them in one at a time.
To weave in, use the technique you used in Step 12 to end the first thread.
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Tie the End Knots
Tie an overhand knot with both strands of leather cord close the last bead in your band, and use your fingers to pull it as tight as you can.
Using the button as a measuring guide, begin a second overhand knot. I usually make the space between the two knots slightly longer than the diameter of the button, but some designers make it even longer.
Pull the second knot tight, being careful to keep the space between the knot big enough for the button. Double check the fit with your button one last time before pulling the second knot as tight as you can. the second knot as tight as you can.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
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Optional: Wrap the Cord Below the Button
Recall that in Step 1 I mentioned that you can tie a knot below the button on your cord.
Another option is to wait until your beadwork is complete and then wrap a strand of C-Lon beading cord around both leather cords several times. Tie off the C-lon cord with a square knot, and use scissors to trim it.
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Complete Your Leather and Bead Wrap Bracelet
Use side cutters to trim the two loose ends of leather cord at least one inch away from the second knot.
That's it! Your bracelet is now ready to wear. Once you get the hang of it, you can try weaving in a variety of different beads and even adding charms at various points in the bracelet.