If you have ever tried to make a bracelet on a bead board or by using a tape measure or flat ruler it is likely you have finished your bracelet, went to try it on and said “What the ? 🙁 & $ ! – Why doesn’t it fit”? Believe me, over the years, I have felt your pain over and over again and wasted lots of expensive materials until I figured a few things out. Bracelet sizing is just not as straight forward as the sizing when you are making other pieces of jewelry.
Even I got stumped yesterday. I was making a beautiful 5 strand Greek leather bracelet to be finished with a snug fitting glue-in clasp. It gave me absolute fits when I went to finish it. The pieces of leather cord on the outside of the bundle of leather cord were too short to reach the clasp. I know a few secrets when it comes to sizing a bracelet. But wow……. Hence this post. I want to save you time, money and some major frustrations.
Here are Some things to Keep in Mind When Sizing a Bracelet
1) Thickness of the beads matter. If you are using nice chunky beads or cool fat chain, your sizing is going to be off if you have measured on a bead board or ruler. The bulk of the material you are using is going to take away from the inner circumference of the bracelet and the fit will be too tight. Tip: Plan to add on at least 1/2 ” to your bracelet when using chunky materials. Tip: Use a bracelet sizer (homemade or purchased – See my video about this) to check the desired size BEFORE you terminate your bracelet.
VIDEO: Bracelet Sizers
2) Multiple Strands of material can be challenging An example of this would be leather cords that are to be together in a tight grouping and glued into and end cap. The outer pieces are going to need to be longer than the pieces that are located on the inner part of the circle. Like the bracelet pictured here that I was working on…. These pieces actually all fit correctly into the end cap even though they are different lengths.
Tip: Do not premeasure your pieces to the same size and cut them ahead of time. The pieces on the outer part of my bracelet were about 3/4″ longer than the inner pieces. Tip: Even after you have measured with the additional length – don’t cut your precious materials until you have held it around your bracelet sizer and held the leather cord in the position you want it to be glued into the end cap.
3) Don’t forget to add on for the length of your clasp: Be sure to measure the length your clasp and consider it in the total length of your bracelet. It is easy for the bracelet to be too big when you forget about the clasp. Tip: clasps that are forgiving like the ones with extenders give you some margin for error.
4) Bracelet sizing general rule of thumb: Measure your wrist at the point where you want your bracelet to hang out. Some people like their bracelets to hang lower than others or you may be making a bracelet to layer with other bracelets. Once you know where you want the bracelet to fall on your arm, measure with a tape measure or piece of string and get the measurement from a ruler. Then, plan to add on at least a 1/2″ for comfort. This will get you going so you can work on your bracelet – but always try to finish it on a bracelet sizer so you can be sure you have the right fit!
I hope these tips help you save some frustration when it comes to sizing your bracelets. As always leave a comment below and let me know if you have any additional sizing questions or general questions about bracelet making in general and I will do my best to answer them for you in future posts. I love to hear from you!