How to Make a Leather and Bead Wrap Bracelet
Originally made trendy by jewelry designer Chan Luu, leather and bead wrap bracelets are still popular today. 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, adjusting the types and sizes of the beads. Best of all, this stylish bracelet is easy to make, and the project should only take you a couple of hours. This tutorial uses 4mm faceted Czech fire-polished glass beads and 3mm magatama beads, but you can substitute any beads that stack to a similar size. It's a project that's easy to customize to your tastes, and these bracelets also can make thoughtful personalized gifts.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Measuring tape
- Side cutters (also called flush cut wire cutters)
- Size 10 beading needle
- Masking tape or painter's tape
- Thread burner
- Scissors (optional)
- 72 inch 2 mm round leather cord
- 1 17 mm round metal button
- Bead thread (6-pound tensile strength, amount varies)
- 45 4mm Czech fire-polished glass beads: 15 of color A, 15 of color B, and 15 of color C
- 30 3mm magatama beads: 15 of color D and 15 of color E
- 6 inch C-Lon beading cord (optional)
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 it's a little looser than you want your bracelet. The extra space accounts for the thickness of the beads. For this tutorial, the wrist measurement is 24 inches.
Add 12 inches to your wrist measurement, and then double that number. This is the length of leather cord you should cut. It's a little more cord than you'll actually use, but it 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 leather cord with your side cutters.
String the Button
Thread the cord up through one hole in your metal button and down through the other. Adjust until the button is centered on the cord.
Secure the Cord and Begin the Thread
Use the clipboard to hold the leather cord as you're working on the bracelet. To begin, clamp the button end of the cord beneath the clip on your clipboard.
Use your side cutters to cut a strand of bead thread that is at least two arm spans long. (Longer thread is more difficult to work with, but it reduces the number of times you need to start a new thread.) Then, thread your needle for double-strand beading with the needle in the middle of the bead thread piece. Leave the ends loose.
Bring the ends of the thread together, and loosely knot them around one strand of the leather cord that's close to the clip on the clipboard. Leave thread tails at least 8 inches long, so you can weave them into the beads later to hide them.
If you are right-handed, you'll likely want to tie your thread onto the left cord (as shown below); if you're left-handed, tie it onto the right cord. Use a piece of tape to hold down the thread tails.
String and Position the First Bead
Pick up one bead of color A with the needle, and slide it all the way down on the thread. Pass the needle beneath both strands of leather cord, and use your finger to push the bead up between them.
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 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.
Slide the Bead Into Place
Slide the first bead a little closer to the clip on the clipboard. Do this for the first few beads that you stitch, so your beadwork begins relatively close to the button.
String the Second Bead
Pick up one bead of color B, and slide it down the thread. Pass the needle and thread beneath both strands of leather cord again, and use your finger to push the bead up between the cords.
Make the Second Stitch
Pass back through the beads, and slowly pull the thread taut again.
Stitch the Third Bead
Use the same technique to string and stitch one bead of color C.
Keep Stitching Beads
Stitch another set of one color A, one color B, and one color C. Then, stitch a group of three magatama beads (color D) as if they were a single bead.
Next, stitch two more sets of beads A, B, and C (for a total of six beads), and then stitch a group of three magatama beads in color E like you did for color D.
Alternate between those two sequences as you continue to stitch beads. Plan to stop with one of the fire-polished beads when you only have 8 inches of thread left. (This tutorial bracelet reached about 9 inches of beadwork before it got to this point.)
End the Old Thread
As you run out of thread, you'll have to weave it into your bracelet before starting with a new length. To do so, turn over the beadwork, and pass the needle back through the last bead you stitched. Tie a knot by making a loop with the thread exiting the bead you just went through and passing the needle through that loop.
Then, turn over the beadwork so it's right side up, and pass back through the bead on top of the leather cords. Turn the beadwork over again, and pass back through the bead on that side. And turn it back over to pass through the bead one last time.
Finally, use a thread burner to trim both strands of thread close to where they exit the bead, and remove the excess thread that's knotted around the leather cord.
Start a New Thread
Cut a new length of thread, and tie it onto the leather cord just like you did for the first thread. Then, continue where you left off stringing beads.
Complete the Beading
Keep beading until the bracelet reaches your desired length, stopping to add a new thread whenever your old thread begins to run out. Once you're happy with the length, weave in the final thread tails like you did each time you started a new thread.
Tie the End Knots
Tie an overhand knot with both strands of leather cord (form a loop and pass both ends through it) close to the last bead. Pull it as tight as you can.
Using the button as a measuring guide, form a second overhand knot. Aim to keep the space between the knots slightly longer than the diameter of the button. Check the fit with your button before pulling the second knot as tight as possible. This creates the clasp for your button.
Optional: Wrap C-Lon Cord Below the Button
For a more finished appearance and to keep the button in place, you can wrap a short strand of C-Lon beading cord around both leather cords several times just below the button. Knot the cord, and use scissors to trim the ends.
Complete Your Leather and Bead Wrap Bracelet
Use side cutters to trim the two loose ends of leather cord at least an inch away from the second knot on the end opposite the button. Now your bracelet is ready to wear.