Thursday, February 20, 2014

How to Make a Multi Strand Stretch Bracelet

Stretch bracelets are a good "first project" for beginner jewellery makers because they're so quick to make and you don't need jewellery pliers. 

Simply string your beads...

Tie a knot... 

Trim the ends...

And you're ready to sport your new handmade bracelet.

But let's take stretch bracelets a step further and make a fancier version: a double-stranded bracelet. 
green peace sign stretch bracelet with green and white beads
This design came about when I was visiting a good friend in the US. She took me on a guided bead shopping tour to all her favourite bead haunts in and around Cotati, CA. 

At our first stop, she threw down the gauntlet - a jewellery making challenge... to make a piece of jewellery from whatever bead she chose.

She picked up a bead that she knew I would never have bought - one that is totally out of my comfort zone.

OK, a peace symbol is definitely not my style and even the colour is out of my comfort zone. But... CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Teaming it with a leather lace band would be very hip... and a timeless boho look. But that's been done a million times before and it seemed like a cop-out to go down that road. This is a challenge after all!

However, I did think it would make a great bracelet so I pulled out lots of green beads to see what I liked and this is the selection I made.

I love the hand-painted lampwork bead strand (the square and round beads in the bottom row): the flowers will add the FLOWER POWER vibe that's perfect for a peace sign bracelet. And a couple of hearts won't be out of place either. These will be part of the focal section of the bracelet, and the green and white ovals will complement them.

With beads picked, let's get started.

How to Make a Stretch Bracelet

Cut a 45cm (17 3/4") length of 0.5mm Stretch Magic. I use this beading elastic because it's strong, durable and it doesn't fray.

Even though 1.0mm fits comfortably inside these beads, the elastic will run through the beads twice in this design so the narrower elastic is a better choice. 

TIP: It's always a good idea to pre-stretch the elastic. 

This helps minimise overstretching once the bracelet has been worn a few times. To do that, give it a few good tugs along the entire length of the elastic string.

You'll need to place a bead stopper on one end of the cord to stop the beads from falling off as you string on the beads. Beadalon and Soft Flex are a couple of brands I've used that work really well. Just press the wings of the spring together and slide the elastic in between the coils. Now you can string without fear of the beads falling off the end.

String the Beads

The stringing pattern is really simple: 4 milky white and 4 green flat ovals with the colours alternating. This is the underneath section of the bracelet.

All the focal beads make up the top section, along with the challenge bead and a couple of green seed beads from the lampwork strand to space things out better. String these on the elastic next.

On the other side of the focals, string a second underneath section, in reverse order to the first one. 

You might be thinking the length is way too long for a bracelet, but you'll see why you've made the bracelet this long in the next few steps.

Make the Bracelet

Thread one end of the elastic through the focal beads on the opposite side of the bracelet....
Inserting the elastic back through the first bead

...exiting out the other side of the second square bead. Pull up the cord to form a circle.
Threading the elastic through the beads to form a bracelet.

This is a good time to try on the bracelet for fit

To adjust the bracelet length, add or remove oval beads until the bracelet is comfortable on your wrist. Restring the elastic back through the focal beads. If you've removed or added any beads to the bracelet to adjust the length, do the same on the opposite end of the elastic.

Remove the bead stopper from the other end of the elastic and thread it through the last three beads in the focal section (the round bead, the heart bead and the seed bead) so that both ends of the elastic are now between the seed bead and the square bead.

This creates a double strand of beads on the bottom of the bracelet.
Threading the elastic through the bracelet a second time

Tie a Surgeon's Knot

Now your bracelet is the right size and the two ends are together and ready to be tied off. 
Bracelet ends ready to be tied off in a knot

Wrap the two ends over each other and then tie a surgeon's knot. Tighten the knots by pulling the cord on either side of the knot after you tie each one. I tie an additional double knot to make sure it will hold.
Tying off the stretch bracelet in a surgeon's knot

How to Secure a Knot in Elastic String

Even though the knot is tight, I like to avoid the "beads scattering on the floor" scenario and make sure the knot NEVER UNRAVELS by adding a dab of GS-Hypo cement to the knot. The fine needle tip makes it easy to get the adhesive in and around the knot. 
Applying adhesive to the centre of the knot

With the adhesive dry (it takes about 10 minutes to set), trim away the ends.... and slide the knot inside the hole of the square bead where it can't be seen.
Cutting the elastic close to the knot

And here's the Flower Power Peace bracelet. 
Green and white peace sign stretch bracelet

I kinda like it... It's fun and flowery and just a little boho chic. I might even be enticed to wear it! 

So I think that I can say, Challenge successfully completed!

Pin this Idea!

Double stranded green and white stretch bracelet featuring a green Howlite peace sign and green lampwork beads

'Til next time.....

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