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How to Make Beaded Stretch Bracelets

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Stretch bracelets are easy and fast to make, and they can be as casual or elegant as you'd like. They're also economical, and they look great stacked together. Here's how to make them.

Please click on any image in this tutorial for a full-size view.

1. Gather Your Materials

A complete stack of stretch bracelets using a mix of Toho glass seed beads
A completed stack of stretch bracelets using a mix of Toho glass seed beads.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Beading scissors or embroidery scissors
  • Bead stopper
  • Clear craft glue (such as E6000), super glue, or clear nail polish
  • Stretch cord appropriate for the size and weight of your beads
  • Collapsible eye needle (also called a twisted wire 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

Tip for selecting glue: Super glue is by far the fastest-drying option, but it makes it more difficult to hide your knot (because it adheres quickly to the beads near it) and makes it easy to accidentally glue your fingers together. You may prefer to use more slow-drying E6000 (in a precision applicator) or clear nail polish, and then simply allow them to dry before wearing your bracelet.

Beads:


Select beads that are lightweight and do not have sharp edges around their holes. Seed beads work well because their small size makes them very lightweight, and most have very smooth holes. You can also use plastic including vintage Lucite beads, kids' pony (kandi) beads, or designer acrylic beads from a bead store. Many wood and shell beads also work nicely.

2. Prepare a Length of Stretch Cord

A bead stopper attached to the cord
A bead stopper attached to the cord.

Use scissors to cut a length of cord that is about six inches longer than your desired bracelet length. Affix a bead stopper about three inches from one end. In the example, I'm using 0.5mm black stretch floss cord.

3. String the Beads

All of the beads strung
All of the beads strung.

Unless your beads are large enough to string without a needle, thread a collapsible-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. To gauge length, stop occasionally and wrap the strung beads around your wrist. Be sure to leave a little space between your skin and the bracelet, so that you can slide it over your wrist without breaking the stretch cord. This also helps to ensure that no areas of empty cord 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 strand 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.)

In the example, I used a pre-made mix of Toho seed beads and a bead spinner to string them. The spinner does a great job of picking up a random assortment of beads, including the long bugle beads in the mix.

Tip: When working with small beads that are all the same size, you can optionally add a contrasting bead with a much larger hole to better hide the knot.

4. Tie the Cord Ends

The completed square knot
The completed square knot.

This step takes the most practice. Remove the bead stopper and the needle from the 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 cinch it down. 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.

Note: Some crafters use crimp beads, rather than knots, to secure the ends of stretch cord. I don't recommend that method because the sharp metal edges of the crimps are likely to cut through the cord, sooner or later.

5. Glue and Hide the Knot

The knot has been tied, glued, and pulled up inside of an adjacent bead
The knot has been tied, glued, and pulled up inside of an adjacent bead.

While holding the bead away from your knot, apply a tiny drop of glue or clear nail polish directly to the knot.

Grab the cord between two beads about an inch away from the knot, and tug gently to pull the knot inside of the adjacent bead that you selected to cover the knot in Step 3.

6. Trim the Cord Ends

A cord end being trimmed
A cord end being trimmed.

Very gently, stretch out each cord end, and then use scissors to trim it close to the beads. (Please remember that you can click on the image for a larger view.)

7. Optional: Make More Bracelets and Matching Finger Rings

A completed stack of stretch bracelets and three matching stretch rings
A completed stack of stretch bracelets and three matching stretch rings.

Once your glue or nail polish 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.

Stretch Bracelet Longevity

While beaded stretch bracelets are economical and fast to make, they do not last forever. Eventually your bracelets are likely to break. To help them last as long as possible, always make them large enough to stretch comfortably over your hand. Also try to use the largest diameter of stretch cord that will fit through all of your beads. Finally, never leave your bracelets exposed to direct sun for long periods of time.

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