A few weeks ago, one of my yoga teachers told me she had an amethyst mala bead bracelet that needed to be repaired, and she asked if I could do it. Of course, it was just a simple bead stringing repair, except…it was on stretchy cord. Of all the materials available for stringing beads, I have never, ever been able to make friends with stretchy cord.
However, since I'm going to be teaching a few mala bead bracelet workshops in 2015, I figured this was as good a time as any to finally meet my stretchy cord issues head-on and learn how to make stretchy cord bracelets that will last. I dove into my supply of gemstone beads for making malas and found a couple packs of amethyst, amazonite, and fancy jasper beads. Then I cut my stretchy cord and got to stringing my beads, but I did things a little differently this time around, and I was pretty happy with the results! Need some tips for working with stretchy cord when stringing beads?
1. Use a double strand. This was huge. I've always made my stretchy cord bracelets with a single strand of cord, but what a difference it makes if you double up! My knots held better, and the whole bracelet felt much more substantial. Of course, stretchy cord won't ever replace bead stringing wire for me, but I have to admit that I loved the way a doubled length of stretchy cord feels when I make these bracelets using gemstone beads.
2. Practice your knots. I used both a square knot and a surgeon's knot for finishing my stretchy cord bracelets, before I realized that I could do something better with my doubled strands! (Technique to follow.) But knotting your cord securely is paramount to a successful stretchy cord bracelet, so practice those knots. Tying knots in stretchy cord is totally different than knotting other types of stringing material, so the practice will definitely pay off.
3. Don't crimp, whatever you do. I detest the practice of crimping my stretchy bracelets, mainly because my crimps always seem to cut right through my cord. In addition to creating a weak spot in your cord, crimps are hard to cover up when you use them for stretchy bracelets. It's much easier to just tie a good, secure knot and then weave your cord ends into the beads.
Want to make an easy gemstone mala bead bracelet? Here's a set of instructions to get you started!
- 8mm gemstone beads, 18 – 27 beads, depending on wrist size (a mala bracelet traditionally uses multiples of 9 beads, plus any spacer beads, so you may want to play with your design before stringing your beads)
- 8mm spacer beads, 3 – 5 beads, depending on your design (rudraksha beads make a nice addition to a mala bracelet)
- Silk tassle
- 18" stretchy cord, 1mm thickness
- Scissors or thread cutter
- Big eye needle
- Glue for securing knots (E6000 recommended)
|1. String your beads. Fold the stretchy cord in half. Begin stringing your beads on, using the double ends of cord to pass through each bead. Leave a loop about 1/2" in size at the other end of the cord. (Optional: use a bead stopper to keep your beads from falling off the end of the cord.)|
|2. String your tassle. After you've strung your beads, you can thread the two ends of the stretchy cord into the big eye needle and pass it through the hole at the top of the tassle. Pass the two thread ends through the loop at the beginning of your bracelet.|
|3. Cinch your cord together. Pass the two thread ends back through the tassel, and pull snugly. Slide your beads down towards the looped end of the bracelet as you pull the cord ends through the tassel to cinch everything together securely.|
|The looped end of your bracelet should almost disappear into the bracelet. Be sure not to pull too tight — maintaining tension is important when using stretchy cord. Keep the cord neutral so that it can stretch to accommodate your wrist later.|
|4. Knot and glue. Tie a couple of half-hitch knots or a couple of surgeon's knots in your stretchy cord, being careful not to pull too tightly. You can add a drop of glue to your knots if desired. Use your big-eye needle to weave your thread ends into the beads, and trim the cord close to the beads.|
After making up a handful of these fun gemstone stretchy cord bracelets, I have to admit that I'm feeling better about using stretchy cord for some of my bead stringing projects. I'm not going to kid myself — I know that I'll probably have to restring these at some point, but for now, they feel like well-made, comfortable beaded bracelets.
If you're looking for great bead stringing projects (including bracelet making projects), check out the fun designs in every issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine! Each issue is full of inspiration, instruction, product reviews, business advice, and so much more! Subscribe to Jewelry Stringing magazine for bead stringing and jewelry-making projects that will keep you beading all year long!
I know stretchy cord can be a hot topic for some beaders — we either love it, or we hate it! How do you feel about using stretchy cord to make bracelets? Do you have any tips for using it? Or do you avoid it at all costs? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts with us!