Making beaded jewelry and beading in general can be a very fun and creative way to make your own unique accessories. There is nothing you could buy in a store or marketplace that will ever bear that personal spark that marks a bracelet or necklace as yours, not to the degree of self-made jewelry, anyway.
I have been making my own beaded bracelets for years, and I have learned several tips that have made the process both addicting and very rewarding. There is nothing like wearing your own work, whether it is a bracelet, a necklace, or some other accessory. Follow this guide and you’ll quickly have some brilliantly unique pieces of beaded jewelry on your hands (or wrists, rather).
Step One: Supplies
The supplies you’ll need for your beaded bracelet or necklace are pretty basic. Similar to my other jewelry making guide on pendants, you have options depending on which article you want to make. I will be focusing on bracelets here, but the modifications for a necklace are easy. It is just a change in measurements.
The supplies you will need for making a beaded bracelet are cord and, of course, beads. For cord, I prefer and recommend Stretch Magic. It can be found at any basic craft store, like Jo-Ann Fabrics or Michaels, and it comes in multiple sizes, though the size you will want that works best for most beads is anywhere between .7mm and 1mm. Stretch Magic works well because it is stretchy and resilient, allowing you to slip the bracelet on and off, not needing a clasp or any sort of fixture.
For beads, look for your local bead shop. Bead shops have an amazing array of colors, shapes and sizes to choose from. If you don’t have access to a bead shop, though, craft stores also carry beads, though not in the same vastidity. Find the beads that reach out at you and really feel like the tone you want your beaded bracelet to have. Look for uniformity in the way of common themes and shades: metallic beads go well with dark colored beads, light colored beads go well with stones and shells, and so on in that way.
Step Two: Measuring
Just eyeball enough cord off the reel to go around your wrist twice, and cut it off the reel. It is good to start off with more than you need for the beaded bracelet. You can trim the excess afterward.
Step Three: Arranging and Placing the Beads
One thing I like to do is arrange the beads in a line before I put them on the cord. This allows me to see what works and looks good, and make changes as needed without throwing the entire theme/scheme of the bracelet off.
Symmetry is an aesthetic value that has always worked really well in beaded products and accessories. You should aim at making a symmetrical beaded bracelet. I like to find some bead that tends to stand out and make that the “central bead” around which I frame the beaded bracelet’s symmetry. So, find something that you want to emphasize on your beaded bracelet, and then arrange your beads around that one, and whatever you do on one side do on the other as well.
Continue in this way until you have between 4 and 8 inches of beads in length (depending on your wrist size). You ultimately want to have the beads resting compactly and naturally on your wrist, not hugging your wrist tightly, but not having any gaps or open spots either. So, put enough beads into the beaded bracelet to achieve this fit. For example, I have an approximately 9-inch wrist circumference and it takes me about 30 beads to reach this ideal fit with my beaded bracelets. So, arrange your beads accordingly, fitting to the size of your wrist.
Step Four: Tying and Trimming
After you have placed the beads on the Stretch Magic cord, and everything is arranged to your satisfaction, you just have to tie it up. Take the two ends of the beaded bracelet and tie them with a basic knot (cross over, cross under, pull tight), like you would when beginning to tie your shoelaces. The knot will naturally slip down to the base of the beads, which is ideal in not having any gaps or loose spots on the beaded bracelet. Pull it tight, and repeat the knot at least two more times. The multiple knots will make sure that nothing comes loose.
After this is done, trim the excess cord from the knot, and you are done! You can add a dab of hot glue on the knots if you are particularly uncertain about the knots being enough, but it is not a necessary step.
So, that’s it! Enjoy your beaded bracelet and wear it with pride. This may just be my tastes, but one beaded bracelet is always complemented by more beaded bracelets. Don’t stop at just one!