Saturday, 6 February 2016

How to make Elastic Bracelets

These bracelets are easy to make and add a bit of fun and colour to your shoeboxes, without too much outlay in terms of time and cost.

Autumn made these lovely bracelets using these directions:

Using elasticated cord means that sizing can be flexible but you can use this chart as a guide.

Approximate length by age
Age 2-4 = 5.5 – 6 inches or 14 – 15.25 cm
Age 5-9 = 6 – 7 inches or 15 – 17.75 cm
Age 10-14 = 6.5 – 7.5 inches or 16.5 – 19 cm
Adult Woman = 7 – 8 inches or 17.75 – 20.25 cm
Adult Man = 8 – 9 inches or 20.25 – 23 cm

For example, my friend’s son is a tall 14 year-old with a wrist measurement of 17cm so a bracelet length of about 19cm would be suitable for him. Girls in this age group usually have smaller wrists than boys but boys may prefer them to be more close fitting.

 You will need:
  • Beads
  • Clear jewellery elastic e.g. Stretch Magic, Elasticity
  • Scissors
  • Clear nail varnish
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Beading needle – optional

Step 1

Thread your beads onto the elastic. I use a beading needle but that’s just my preference.

Tip - if you are threading onto a loose length of elastic, put some sticky tape or a peg on the end to stop the beads falling off again!

Step 2

Keep threading on the beads until you reach the desired length – don’t stretch the elastic when you are measuring, just gently lay it down flat.

Tip – if you are using large beads, make your bracelet on the longer side rather than the shorter. Larger beads will make the bracelet feel tighter when worn.

Step 3

Tie a surgeon's knot – the difference between a reef/square knot and a surgeon's knot is that you take the end of the elastic through the circle a second time before pulling it tight. I’ve also seen the knot done the other way round – with the extra ‘twist’ done on the first crossover rather than the second.  You can even do the extra twist on both parts of the knot if you like.

This diagram is useful:

(I am unable to find the website where I originally found the image using TinEye or Google so unfortunately I cannot credit the source.)

This short video from The Beadery also shows the procedure clearly:

Tips - pull the knot tight without loosening the circle of elastic, otherwise there will be gaps between the beads.  The elastic running through the beads should not be stretched when you bring the ends together to tie the knot or the bracelet will be under too much stress when worn. 

Once you think the knot is tight enough, if you pull apart the main elastic on either side of the knot, it will further tighten it. Test the knot – if it is not fully tight, it will start to open out again. You may need to gently loosen the knot with a pin and start again. 

Rather unhelpfully, this picture was taken before I made the extra twist - sorry about that...

Step 4

Apply a blob of nail varnish to the knot to help it to stay tied.

Step 5

Put the knot inside the nearest large bead - I do this by pushing the short end through the bead and gently pulling. Leave it until the nail varnish has dried, then trim the tails. The knot will be glued inside the bead.  Your bracelet is finished!

Additional Thoughts

I was once asked if I thought I was safe to make beaded jewellery for shoeboxes for 2 - 4-year-olds. I think this is a decision that you need to make yourself.  

However, I do think about safety when I am designing mine. I use 1mm elastic for the bracelets, which is twice as thick as what I usually use and is less likely to snap. A surgeon's knot is more secure than a reef knot. By putting a dollop of clear nail varnish on the knot and pulling it back into the bead, the knot is effectively glued inside the bead and less likely to come undone.

For the necklaces, I knot the cord at either end of the beaded section and I use PVA glue inside the beads and also inside the knots before pulling them tight.

I once bought some jewellery sets for my nieces - the label said '3+' on it. The elastic was much thinner than what I have used here and the beads a lot smaller.   In my opinion, the ones I make are likely to be more durable than the ones I have bought.

Happiness is handmade


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