How to Make a Beaded Wrap Bracelet
What you will need:
-a smooth, strong cord of some type
(often leather cord, but here I used cotton yarn and embroidery floss)
-beading thread, such as Nymo, or strong sewing thread (not the bargain-bin stuff, it's weak!)
-clasp, or a large bead or button for closure (optional)
-a macrame board (ideally) or strong cardboard/foam board to use as a support
-pins or alligator clips
First, decided how long you want your bracelet. Two of mine are long enough to wrap around my wrist snugly four times, which works out to 26 inches; the third is two wraps, at 13 inches. If you are using a clasp, be sure to subtract the length of the clasp from this measurement. Cut a length of cord (2 x desired measurement) + 12 inches for waste. Fold it in half. Now, how you treat the fold is going to depend on what closure you're using for the bracelet.
If you are using a clasp, attach one half of it to the folded end however seems appropriate; my clasp had a solid ring to attach to, so I passed my cord though it then tied both sides together in an overhand knot. If you are using a large bead or button, tie a loop in the folded end large enough to go over it easily, but not too loosely. Test this before you move on! If you are using neither of these things, your last option is still a loop, which will eventually go over a large knot in the end of the bracelet. Make the loop about 1 inch long.
Next, pin or clip the end of the bracelet to one edge of your board. Stretch the two cords across and pin/clip them to the other edge, so that they are straight and relatively taut. You want a little give in the cords, just enough to get a finger underneath them. Position the board with the clasp/loop end of the bracelet at the bottom if you want to work with the board upright (like I do when I curl up on the couch and rest it on my drawn-up knees) or towards you (if you're working with the board on a flat surface.)
Cut a long length of thread, as long as you feel comfortable working with, x2. (The longer you make this thread, the less often you'll have to join new ones; conversely, the shorter it is, the less likely it is to tangle. Your choice of dangers!) Pass one end of the thread underneath the left cord, match up both ends of the thread, then thread them both through your needle; this creates a doubled thread that anchors itself to the cord when you begin adding beads.
Now, the beads. They need to have large enough holes to get four passes of thread through (doubled thread going once each way). Beyond that, the sky is the limit! Most of the commercial bracelets I've seen have been made with small round gemstone beads, but I didn't have any of those in enough quantity to use, so I made my first one with bugle beads, and my second and third with seed beads, though I did have to discard the occasional seed bead for having too small a hole.
String your first bead(s) on the thread, then pass the needle underneath both cords, going to the right. Snug the bead(s) in between the cords with your finger.
Next, pass the needle through the bead(s) again, going to the left and over top of the cords, like so.
Pull the thread taut. There! First bead(s) on!
Repeat with another bead (or row of beads, in this case), then another, then another, each time snugging the bead up to the one before it.
I'm right-handed; I hold the bead in place with my left while I control the needle on the return pass with my dominant right. If you're a southpaw, you may feel more comfortable reversing my directions. My husband and several of my friends are lefties, so I think about these things
Continue adding beads until you've reached the desired length (minus the clasp, still, if you're using one.) If you're making this for yourself, I recommend removing the bracelet from the support board and testing it on yourself before finishing the end; you may find you need it a little longer than originally planned to account for multiple wraps around your wrist. Or you may not.
Along the way you'll likely have to do two things: 1) reposition the bracelet on the support board, which is easy enough, just move it down to expose more open cord and re-pin or clip; and 2) finish off the working thread and add new thread.
Here's how I did it.
When you're down to four or so inches of thread on the needle, stop adding new beads. Take the needle and pass it around the thread (not the cord!) at the edge of the bead you just exited.
Make a loop here and pull the needle through it, tying a knot around the thread at the edge of the bead. Pass the needle over the left cord and through the bead again, then trim the ends. If you like you can secure the knot with a tiny dot of glue, but I haven't found it necessary myself; you can also pass the thread back through more than one bead, if you like, to make it more secure.
Attach a new thread just as you did at the start, and keep adding new beads.
Finishing the end will depend, again, on your closure. For a clasp, attach the other half to the end however seems best; I knotted my two cords on the clasp and secured that with a bit of glue. For a large bead, pass both cords (if possible) through the bead and tie a large knot in the cords to hold the bead in place, securing with glue, trimming the ends, etc. If you can only get one cord through, tie the two cords together around the bead instead. For a two-hole button pass one cord through both holes and tie the cords together firmly on the underside of the button; for a four-hole button, pass one cord each through two opposing holes to form an X, then tie together on the underside. For a knotted closure, use the two cords together to tie several overhand knots one on top of another until it's large enough to hold the loop on the other end securely when worn. (Apologies for having no example of a button closure--I haven't made that many bracelets yet!)
Finally, wrap that thing around your wrist and marvel a little at its beauty!