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!
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).
- 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.
- Cut a long piece of thread (10-12 feet) and thread your needle. Knot the end of the threads.
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.
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).
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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:
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
PS: here are some handy links to some other how-to’s in the Rings & Things blog!
- How to etch copper
- How to wire-wrap a briolette
- How to dap & dome metal jewelry
- How to use heat to patina brass charms & filigrees
- How to make interchangeable magnetic jewelry with 1″ buttons
- How to make polymer-clay pie earrings using mini bottle caps as pans
And last, but not least, visit Rings & Things design gallery for hundreds of free — no login required! — jewelry projects, tips and techniques, and all the beads, tools and supplies to create them with.