How to make wrapped leather bracelets


Triple-wrap leather bracelet with blue tigereye beads

Let me begin by stating the obvious – this style of wrapped leather bracelet is EVERYWHERE this season. Everywhere! Even my athletic clothing catalogs – which only have maybe three pieces of jewelry – are featuring this style. Why? Because it is casual yet chic and infinitely customizable! The catalog (which shall remain nameless) priced each bracelet at $120. Needless to say, you can make your own for far, far less using supplies from Rings & Things!

leather wrapped gemstone bracelets

Five different leather wrapped gemstone bracelets designs: green opal, mookaite, African turquoise, hematite and rhodonite

The supply list is pretty short:

  • 4-6mm round beads We used gemstone beads, but glass, crystal beads or pearls would also be lovely. The number you need depends on how many times you want to wrap the bracelet around your wrist. Larger beads work too – but they will start getting heavy on multiple-wrap styles. All the bracelets pictured in this post use 6mm. Our new wrapped bracelet kits use 4mm beads. <– The kits are great, because once you make your first bracelet, you’ll have plenty of thread and needles left over with which to make many more!
  • Leather cord Our examples use Greek leather. Both the 1.5mm and 2mm worked great.
  • Thread Needs to be sturdy and able to pass (doubled) through your beads twice. Pick a color that matches your leather or that provides a pretty contrast. We used size D Super-Lon (specifically, the earth assortment). We now have tubes with all black or all brown bobbins available too!
  • Button or bead for the clasp. Rings & Things has some pretty buttons from TierraCast.
  • Required tools: needle (size 12 is a good general choice), scissors, work surface with clips or clothespins.
  • Optional tools: needle threader, thread conditioner, glue (GS Hypo Cement, Bead Fix or other fabric-friendly adhesive for extra security on your knots).

Wrapped bracelet made with green opal gemstone beads and natural Greek leather.

The technique:

  1. Choose your bracelet length and cut your leather. The formula is double your finished bracelet length plus extra for making the knots. For single-wrap bracelet, measure your wrist and then triple that number to get the length of leather needed (7″ wrist = 21″ of leather). For a triple-wrap, multiply your wrist by seven (7″ wrist = 49″ leather). It is better to leave your leather too long than to end up with not enough.
  2. Cut a long piece of thread (10-12 feet) and thread your needle. Knot the end of the threads.
  3. Knot the leather and thread together, leaving a loop on the end.

    Holding the thread by the knot, let the needle fall to the ground so it is centered on the thread. Fold your piece of leather in half, leaving a loop large enough for your button to fit through. Holding the knot-end of the thread with the leather, tie an overhand knot so that your thread and leather are now connected.

    Make sure your button will fit through the loop before you tighten the knot.

  4. Attach your piece to a work surface.

    Using binder clips or clothespins, attach your loop to the top of a piece of cardboard. Use a second clip to attach the leather ends to the bottom of your board (leave the thread loose).

  5. Starting with your thread in the middle of the two strands of leather, wrap the thread OVER the right strand to the outside, then UNDER the right, OVER the left to the outside, then UNDER the left and OVER the right. It is a simple figure-8 stitch.
    how to stitch a wrapped leather bracelet

    Over, under, over, under – once you get a rhythm going, the bracelet is super easy to make!

    Do this 5-6 times, pulling the thread tight around the leather to form a binding. (The pattern could go either way, but since I’m right-handed I’m going to describe it this way. Reverse it if needed!) Here is a close-up of the lashing:

    A few stitches without beads secures the thread nicely on the leather.

  6. Now you are ready to start adding beads. After your thread has passed UNDER the left leather, add a bead. Hold the bead between the two strands of leather, and stitch the thread OVER the right, back UNDER the right, THROUGH the bead hole again and OVER the left. Bring the thread UNDER the left and add another bead in the middle. Repeat many many times! Keep the beads pulled in snugly against the leather. Pay attention so that your stitches all face the same way. If your thread seems to snag a lot, use a bit of thread conditioner or beeswax on it.

    Adding the first bead to a wrapped bracelet – but really I’m posting this picture to show off Jaci’s manicure!

    A work in progress. See how the beads line up inside the leather?

  7. To finish the bracelet, form several stitches without beads, just like you did in step 5. Now you are ready to attach your button or bead. Ideally, you’ll have enough leather left to tie on a button with a nice knot on the back and trim the ends.
    button end for wrapped leather bracelet

    Long tails makes it easy to tie on a button closure.

    If your button has a small loop, you might need to miter (angle) the leather end and pull it through with pliers.

    Buttons, disk beads and crimp ends can all be used to finish the bracelet ends.

    If somehow you come up short, all is not lost. You can tie a disk bead onto just one strand of the leather (use glue to enforce your knot), like on the 2nd bracelet from the left. Or if your ends are really short, use a hook-end crimp, as shown on the pink bracelet on the right.

  8. If desired, add a touch of glue to the knots to ensure the thread is gripped securely by the leather. Trim ends as needed.

Other design options:

  • String your button or bead clasp first, then tie a series of knots on the end to make the bracelet length adjustable.
  • Use jump rings to attach a couple of charms, like on Mollie’s Belle Star bracelet.
  • Leave the leather tails long and add beads or decorative knots.
  • Substitute a different type of cord for the leather, as in Tracy’s rattail and dragon blood jasper design:

wrapped gemstone bracelet with rattail instead of leather

Have fun creating your own wrapped bracelets! You’ll find it is quite addictive once you start. Please feel free to post questions – I will do my best to answer! ~ Cindy


Need supplies? Rings & Things ships around the world! The most popular wrapped leather bracelet supplies are:


Other how-to’s:

How to etch copper | How to wire-wrap a briolette
How to dap & dome metal jewelry
How to make interchangeable magnetic jewelry with 1″ buttons
How to make Pi-day earrings using mini bottle caps as pans


Q: “How do you start a new thread in the middle of the bracelet?”

(answers selected from replies to blog comments)

A: It’s best if you can avoid running out of thread (start with 10-12 feet to avoid running out). But if you do, start a few beads back and go through them again. This means you’ll have to go through some of your beads 4x, which (depending on your beads and cord) might be impossible. Other problems are that your bracelet will be weaker than if you were able to use 1 continuous thread, and you’ll be able to see the section that has twice as much cord as the rest of the bracelet.

A2: Get really good at hiding knots in your beads. =)

A3: If you’re down to just a tiny bit of thread, it is going to be hard to tie the ends onto new strands, but if you realize you’re not going to make it and cut off the needle, rethread and knot the strands together, you can probably pull the knot inside of a bead. I hope this makes sense – basically you’re not “starting anew” but pausing, adding on some extra thread and picking up right where you left off. :)

 

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314 Responses to “How to make wrapped leather bracelets”

  1. bewishful says:

    Thank you, a great tutorial, followed really easy and first time I have made anything like that.

  2. Madison says:

    Hi !

    I’ve made some cylindrical paper beads 10mm in length, and was wondering if they would still work if they were the only thing altered in the bracelet ?

    Thanks ! :)

    • Polly says:

      Hi Madison.
      One thing that will definitely be different is the length of thread needed. The thread goes through each bead and wraps around the heavier (leather) cord, so if you change from a 4mm or 6mm bead to a 10mm bead, you need roughly twice as much thread — possibly more if the beads are also narrower. Because if your beads are only 2mm wide compared to a 6mm wide round bead, you’ll need to use 3x more beads to fill the same bracelet! (So everything would then be tripled, since you’d also wrap around the leather cord 3x more often.)

      But what I would be more concerned about is strength. Gemstone beads are basically fancy rocks, so are strong. And, round beads are strong, whereas tubes and cylinders are more prone to breakage along their length. I would be concerned about any 10mm tube or cylinder forming the “ribs” of a bracelet like this.

      However, if you make some smaller/shorter bicone shaped beads from a long skinny triangle/pennant shaped paper, I think the design would work with no significant modifications. Aim for roughly 4-6mm in all three dimensions, and you’ll have a sturdy design.

  3. fiers says:

    je ne parle que francais et je m’interesse a ce genre de bracelet car je suis actuellement hospitaliser et donc bloquer parler vous francais merci

  4. Melissa says:

    I’ve made a few of these now & love them. Instructions were easy to follow. Only question I have is what type of glue / adhesive should be used to secure the leather knot / thread. I’m too nervous to leave it as-is, & feel more comfortable with some type of glue on the knotted ends as a safety net. What brand is best? Thanks.

    • Polly says:

      Household white glue (like Elmer’s glue) is fine.
      Most superglues are brittle, and not recommended. You might want to try samples of glues you have around the house, on sample knots, to see which glues glob up, or change the color of your leather, etc.
      GS Hypo Fabric Cement is nice, because it is flexible and adheres nicely to nearly every type of textile and plastic.

      • Melissa says:

        Thanks, Polly! I’ve been using Elmer’s white glue up to this point, but wasn’t sure if there was a better solution. I appreciate your assistance!

  5. Marisela says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I was wondering if it is possible to use cotton instead of nylon to thread the beads? Do you think it is sturdy enough?

    • Polly says:

      Hi Marisela,

      It depends on the quality and the thickness of the cotton cord/thread. Some are great, but others may stretch out over time, leaving the bracelet a bit odd looking and gappy. Others may break or fray. To see if it is strong enough, simply unspool a foot or so, wrap it around your hands and try to break it. And to discover if it frays, start making the bracelet, and if it starts getting too fuzzy after going through a few dozen beads, you know it will be a mess by the time you get to the end of your bracelet.

      Sorry I couldn’t give you a definitive answer, but there are so many possibilities, that even if you told me the exact brand, weight and type, it would probably be one I’ve never tried.

      ~Polly

  6. Heather says:

    I just want to say, “I LOVE YOU!!!” haha. There is a pink jade wrap bracelet that I just fell in love with from ‘Sundance’ company. However, I was NOT in love with the $190 price tag…. By using your tutorial, I can get enough pink jade and all the leather and thread components for around $30….+ my time….THAT is a beautiful thing….THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES!!!

    Heather

    • Polly says:

      Hi Heather,
      There is some great jewelry in Sundance’s catalog … and I like that it is handmade by artisan craftspeople … but oh yes, if you know how to make it yourself, you can usually cut your cost to 1/4 or even better.

  7. Erin says:

    I was wondering if you had a tutorial for a bracelet using two different types of beads. I have a bracelet with pearls in the center and two smaller beads on the outside. I’ve been looking everywhere and cant find a tutorial.

    • Polly says:

      Hi Erin, Can you link to an example similar? There are a few ways I can picture the bracelet you’re describing, and want to make sure that if we write a tutorial its for one that matches your bracelet.

  8. Elaine says:

    I am looking for instructions for this type of bracelet with 3 rows. Can you post something like this? Or tell me where I can find this? I’ve been looking everywhere. Thanks.

  9. Viktoria says:

    Very pretty:) Thank you very much))

  10. Anke says:

    This was exactly what i needed! Thank you, the directions are very clear and easy to follow. :)

  11. Kristen says:

    How do you hide the knot of thread from the beginning in which you made the button hole?

  12. D'Ann says:

    great tutorial ! if I am making a 5 wrap bracelet what length of thread should I use? How do you keep the thread from tangling up? thanks !

  13. Judy says:

    I have made lots of these wrapped bracelets using both glass and stone beads. My most repetitive problem when using the two needle procedure, is that when I pass the needles through the bead, I either spear through the big eye needle or through the other thread, which is a headache. I have tried using the one needle method and even using a sewing needle but then I am still splitting the previously strung thread. I am using either “Nymo” size D or “Purely Silk” size 3 and I do use beeswax. Can you tell m what I’m doing wrong?

    • Polly says:

      To the best of my knowledge, when going through the same small bead multiple times whether using one or 2 needles, you will invariably go through your previously strung thread at least some of the time. Your best bet is to try different types of cord, and find one that frays less when you go through it. We’ve been quite happy with SuperLon. I’ve used Nymo in the past for beadweaving, and although beeswax helped, it certainly did not eliminate the fraying and shredding that arose from going through the same bead too many times.

  14. Jenni says:

    Hi, when beadin, do you add the beads one at a time, or string them all before you start?

  15. Carla says:

    Like Elaine, I want to make a 3 row bracelet but unsure as to how to finish the ends since there will be 4 strands of leather. Just thinking that the knot will be too large, any suggestions?

  16. Tara says:

    Hello and thank you for this tutorial it is very helpful but instead of leather is it possible for me to use say friendship bracelet string or some other types? Thanks again!

  17. I wanted to make multi-row bracelets too. I found a video on Youtube about how to make a triple row beaded wrap bracelet. It was exactly what I needed to see. I hope it helps those who were looking for info on how to do them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G7_EU6_QuA (Not my video, I just found it via Google…)

  18. Charlie says:

    I am curious what type of knot you use to tie off a button that has a loop in the back rather than a through hole button.

    Thanks!

    • Polly says:

      Hi Charlie,
      Use the same type of knot if possible. But if the button loop is too small, then you will have to experiment to find a knot that works for your combination of components. ~Polly

  19. cindy clark says:

    I cant fit the needle and tread through my bead as the hole in the bead is small. what size hole or bead do you suggest? is it possible to enlarge the hole in the bead?

    • Polly says:

      Hi Cindy,
      Yes, you can enlarge the hole in the bead … but it is a slow process (it would take too long to enlarge ALL the holes in ALL your beads). Usually when just a few beads from a strand (or bag) don’t work, you set those aside for another project. If the whole strand doesn’t work, then you can buy a strand from us (see links in article above), or you can buy smaller needles and thinner thread (if you can’t find them locally, we’re happy to ship to you — see links above to recommended items).

      We also have kits which include all the parts you need: https://shop.rings-things.com/cart/search/search.asp?keywords=wrapped+leather+bracelet+kit

      ~Polly

  20. Linda says:

    I have made a 32 inch bracelet and after a short time it gets all twisted and bunched up. it seems the leather on one side is not even with the other side after a while and the beads are really getting twisted up. how do you prevent this?
    thanks…

    • Polly says:

      Hi Linda,
      It sounds like your string tension is not consistent, but this could be either because sometimes you’re stringing tighter, and other times you’re stringing looser — or, it could be the quality or type of string or leather. If you’re sure you are keeping your string tension consistent while you’re working on it, then the type of thread might not be the right quality. We use thread that says “no stretch”. Cheap leather cord can stretch or deform too.
      ~Polly

  21. Susan says:

    I love these bracelets, and your instructions are very good. My question is – what do you do if you run out of thread before you’re finished? Can you knot more thread onto the original thread? The amount of thread needed for a 5-wrap bracelet is unmanageable! Thank you for your help!

    • Polly says:

      Adding more thread is kind of a pain, but is sometimes unavoidable. If your bead holes are large enough, you can knot more thread onto the original thread. But if the bead holes are very small, the knot won’t go through.

      “How to add more thread” is our most commonly asked question, so you are definitely not alone =) It’s been answered in a few ways in the previous comments… but there are 292 comments to this article now so it’s harder to find than it used to be! I personally have not made these bracelets, so I don’t want to try to answer it myself, but I will try to provide links to the previous questions and/or I will copy the replies into the original post, so no one has to scroll through 292 comments to find the answer =)

      ~Polly

  22. cindy clark says:

    I am new at beading so I think I have the right needle now.. I was unaware of beading needles verses regular needles.. I feel really stupid.. I paid almost $200.00 for my wrapped 5 bracelet . I am sure I can make one now.. thank you so much .

  23. Joni says:

    Hi, I’ve been beading for many years. My questions is I always used beading thread called Nymo. I finally found Superlon, but it is only in white and black. I wondered if I could use sharpies to “color” the Superlon to match my leather? Since Sharpie’s are permanent I wondered if it would work on the white Superlon….this would be great with sharpies having every color under the sun? Thanks, Joni. My beading line is actually called Firelon. Haven’t found Superlon.

    Sincerely,

    Joni

  24. Lisa says:

    Hi, how can you stop beads popping up, I’ve made a few 5x wraps, and every time I get disappointed , please help!

  25. Kristin says:

    Hi,
    I made my first beaded wrap bracelet today. Thank you for your easy to follow directions and the pictures. I was so happy on the way mine turned out. I love Tracy’s rattail and dragon blood jasper bracelet and I was wondering what the color is of the rattail cord she used was? I really want to do something with that color cord. Thank you.

  26. Sofie says:

    Great tutorial! I’ve made a couple of wrap bracelets and I have an issue with a couple of the beads puckering up out of alignment after it’s all finished. And my leather bracelet seems to have a bend at both or one end! Am I pulling the thread to tight? How can I fix this problem happening again? Thanks!

    • Polly says:

      Hi Sofia,

      We’ve found that double-stitching through a bead every so often and using smaller beads near the ends to create a taper effect help keep the beads from puckering.

      The bend at the end(s) is probably just what you’re thinking, caused by pulling the thread a bit too tight. Try 2-3 smaller beads at the ends of the bracelet instead.

  27. Kris says:

    I’m just starting out and I’m wondering if I could double the thread to make my bracelet stronger. My beads are 6mm and I am using size 6 nylon thread for now. Thanks

    • Polly says:

      Hi Kris,
      It’s certainly worth a try. We haven’t tried every brand, size or manufacturer yet =), so please keep us posted on how well it works out, or any tricks you learn while doing it.
      ~Polly

  28. Kristina says:

    Hi! I was just wondering if it’s possible to use beading wire for this project instead of the thread?

    • Polly says:

      Hi,
      It’s possible, but there are a few drawbacks. Beading wire is a lot stiffer, so the entire bracelet will have a different feel. And beading wire doesn’t knot as well as beading thread, so you’ll need to figure out an alternate way to start and end your piece. Beading wire is also usually thicker, so be sure to see if you can run it through your beads 2x before you begin stringing. ~Polly

  29. TJay says:

    Hi There

    I love this tutorial – and I hope you don’t mind but I have linked to it on my blog where I featured the bracelet I made from it? If you’d like to have a look, the blog post is here: http://wp.me/p2zUoA-56

    Cheers

    TJay

    • Polly says:

      It looks great! Nice job (and your experiment using materials on hand (tiger tail), nicely answers the question “can I use beading cable?”)
      ~Polly

  30. Roseann says:

    I am going to buy beads for a camp I am teaching for middle school girls. If we were going to make a two wrap bracelet, can you give me an estimate of the amount of beads I would need?

    • Polly says:

      Hi Roseann,
      What size beads are you using? There about approx. 67 round 6mm beads per 16″ strand, or 102 4mm beads per 16″ strand. (Most gemstone beads are sold on 8″ or 16″ strands.). I can’t see the article from where I approve and reply to questions, so I will check the article to see how many beads are used in the triple wrap and then finish replying later today. ~Polly

  31. sara says:

    ahi, I wanted to know how to calculate a 5x wrap

    • Polly says:

      Hi sara,

      It is wrist size x the number of wraps x 2, + approximately 7″ for knots.

      So for a 7″ wrist:
      7″ x 5 wraps = 35″
      35″ x 2 = 70″
      70 + 7″ for knots = 77″.

      ~Polly

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