How to Make Stretch Bracelets

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Stretch Bracelets:  Not Just for Kids & Plastic Beads Anymore!

Almost every fashion jewelry designer out there seems to be offering a line of sophisticated, layered stretch bracelets.  Stretch bracelets have grown up and can be found sporting all kinds of gemstones, fancy beads and pearls.  They are fun and simple to make and much less fussy to construct than other types of bracelets.  However, there are some secrets to creating chic and stylish stretch bracelets that won’t fall apart.  I am going to share some of my tips on how to make stretch bracelets that will stay together and last a long time.

 

Materials Needed to Make Stretch Bracelets

1.  Stretch Cord Some of the common brands include Stretch Magic, Powercord and Opelon. Many of the Jewelry and beading supply companies seem to have their own brand name and at least one brand can be found at your local craft store.  As with all stringing materials they come in different mm thicknesses.   For most of my stretch bracelets I like to use a .5mm or a 1 mm thickness.   They knot easily and fit through most of the holes in the beads I like to use.   If you are using particularly heavy beads you can use a thicker cord because the holes usually get a little more generous in bigger beads.  Keep in mind, the thicker the cord, the more it it will cost you.

2.  Beads Yes – obviously you need beads.  The great thing about stretch bracelets is that you can be more random in your pattern or make multiples of them to layer together and they always look great so it is a nice way to use up odds and end beads you have from other projects.   I don’t recommend using rough beads like lava beads, maybe some coral or crystals on thinner stretch cord as they can cut their way into the cord and weaken it over time.

3.  GS Hypo Cement I use GS Hypo to put a little dab of glue on my knot in my bracelet to add extra strength.  It is intended to glue non-porous materials and the tiny precision applicator makes it easy to get the cement right where you need it.

To Crimp or Not to Crimp Your Stretch Bracelet?

Oh yes – my thoughts on crimping stretch cord….  Some people like to use crimps to finish their stretch bracelets.  NOT ME!  If you have purchased a nice quality stretch bracelet from a boutique or department store recently I am pretty sure it doesn’t have a crimp in it.  Plain and simple, I don’t like the look.  I think it can cheapen your bracelet and interupt the continuous flow of beads that makes a stretch bracelet look and feel so nice.  If you are not using high quality crimp beads, they often have jagged edges and can weaken the stretch cord.  If you insist on crimping then at least use attractive, quality crimps like a tornado or use a crimp cover to make it stand out less.

Steps for Making a Stretch Bracelet

1.  Choose your beads.  Decide if you will arrange randomly or use a pattern.

2.  Take the measurement of your wrist or the person you are making the bracelet for.  Cut the stretch cord adding an extra 2 ” on each side so you have enough extra cord to comfortably tie your knot when you are finished.

3.  Place your bead stopper, paperclip or binder clip on one end of your cord and get stringing!

4.  Once you have added enough beads to complete a loop around your wrist, I recommend you test fit your bracelet around your wrist or use a bracelet sizer (see my video or post about this) to be sure you have the right fit.  Once you are sure you have the right amount of beads, you are ready to finish your bracelet.

5.  Take each side of the stretch cord and tie one overhand knot and pull it tightly – as hard as you can.   Tie a second overhand knot and pull it tightly.  Or tie a surgeons knot once.

Thanks to Bead FX for the knot pictures.

6.  Snip the ends of the stretch cord close to the knot and apply a tiny dot of GS Hypo to the knot.  Then, slip the knot into the closest bead hole or affix it to the nearest bead if it will not fit inside the hole.

7.  Now the hardest part!  Be patient and let the glue dry for a few hours before wearing your bracelet.

If you have additional questions about how to make stretch bracelets or another bracelet making questions, go ahead and ask in the comments below.  Now Go MAKE BRACELETS!

 

 

 

 

77 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this valuable information. I have been reluctant to use elastic due to my lack of knowledge about how durable it is. The pictures of the knots are really helpful. Do you have any suggestions for the most durable elastics to use?

    • Hi Heather.

      Glad to help! I like Power Cord the best from Fire Mountain Gems but I also use Stretch Magic sometimes – available at many craft stores. Have fun giving it a try!

      Tracy

      • HI THERE,
        I HAVE JUST FOUND THIS LINK AND WONDERED IF YOU COULDHELP ME HEP
        I HAVE MADE A 2 STRAND ELASTICATED BRACELET BUT I AM HAVING A PROBLEM FINISHING OFF, LIKE YOU I WANT THE BRACELET TO FLOW AND NOT INVOLVE CRIMP BEADS.. ANY IDEAS PLEASE,

  2. Hello, I have been trying to perfect my knot for stretch bracelets. Most people recommend the surgeons knot but I feel like the overhand knot is more secure. I don’t know where I am going wrong. Can you give me some insight on why the surgeons knot is better? It is also bigger and doesn’t fit into my beads when I’m finished. I would like to sell my bracelets but not until I’m sure they won’t come apart on someone.

    Your website is GREAT!
    Love the easy sizer bracelet ideas.
    Thank you,

    Jane Askew

    • Hi – Thanks Jane.

      I always do two overhand knots – the key is to pull the first one tight and then tie the second and pull it tight. Then, use some GS Hypo Cement to give you insurance it will not come apart. Works for me every time and the knots will fit through 75% of the holes in the beads I use. If they don’t fit in – that is ok. Trim the cord close to the knot and it is ok – to glue it between the two beads. Play around with this method a few times to test it for yourself and you will see what I mean. I think you will be comfortable enough to sell them. Good luck! – Tracy.

  3. What about putting a crimp cover over the knot to finish it off?

    • You could – if the crimp is a good crimp and won’t chew into the stretch cord. For me, the point of a stretch bracelet is to slip onto your wrist easily – but style wise to have a continuous flow of beads without an interruption – i.e. the crimp. I just don’t like the look of the crimp and it you knot well and use a little hypo cement you don’t need to. I also recommend tucking the knot with a tiny dab of glue into the bead hole. Bout of course you can do however you would like. : )

      • Someone should make a crimp that looks like a bead :)

        • They make crimp covers that look like a bead to go over the crimp but I still worry the crimp will weaken or cut into the stretch cord. : )

          • I realized a little while ago that crimp covers can definitely cut into beading wire and I’m sure they would cut into elastic too. So, to remedy this I started filing down my crimp covers with sand paper so that they no long have sharp edges. I have been doing this for awhile with my beaded bracelets made with beading wire, but I just started putting them over the knots in my stretch bracelets today :) Hopefully they hold up!

  4. Are there particular beads that will cut the stretch cord and should be avioded? For example, can you use crystals, or will they cut thru it? Thank you!!

    • Most beads will be fine. Lava beads, some rough edge metal. Crystals unless they seem to have a sharp hole – but should not.

  5. I have heard someone from Stretch Magic say that pre-stretching the cord is the key. Do you think it is necessary to stretch out the cord first, before stringing your beads?

    • Yes – it helps to pre stretch. I have always done that out of habit before I knot it.

  6. hi, i make stretchy bracelets,i love making them,im trying to start my own business,just havent got everything together yet,i enjoyed the replys,it helped me alot.thank you nettie

  7. I have tried various knots with stretch cord and they all seem to loosen before I can even add glue. Any ideas?

    • Hi Linda. If you are using an overhand knot – pull tight between each knot and be sure to tie at least 2 times – I often tie three before gluing. The best knot is the surgeons knot. Knot twice – then glue.

  8. after making some yukky bracelets last night, loved your website.
    I love the round “disco” sparkly balls that look like a clasp.
    Have you used any of these? I only found them on a site from
    Florida.
    I was using .7 elastic and my “crazy glue” made a mess.
    Will try again, i guess “practice makes perfect” huh?
    Roni

  9. I have gaps between the beads when my bracelets are finished and I have followed your directions carefully. Why does that happen and how do you pre stretch the stretch cord. Thanks Diane

    • Hi Diane. I don’t pre-stretch my cord. I do pull the cord fairly tight at the end as I am knotting it and then pull back and forth on the knot to make sure it is tight and the beads are not gapping before I tie a second knot and apply the glue…. I can be tricky the first time or two – but you will get it right! Hope that helps!

      Tracy

      • Thanks for the answer. I also have gaps between the beads, but I think I am making them too small.

  10. Hi! Thank you for your tips! I am a beginner and noticed that when looking online for beads, the diameter of the inner hole is not always mentioned. If I want to use 0.5mm stretch cord, how do I know if the bead hole is large enough? Is there a particular website you can recommend where I can purchase beads? Or any particular types of beads I should be looking for? Thanks very much for your help!

    • Hi Michele.

      .5mm stretch cord should go through most beads except maybe fine india cut gemstone beads or med to small pearls. Stay away from big heavy beads as they will pull the stretch cord too much and just don’t work with most stretch cords in general. There are so many good online beads stores. One of the largest and most diverse selections would be at fire Mountain Gems. Hope that helps!

      Tracy

  11. Hi I am not a novice when making jewelry. However I recently started to make stretch bracelets. Sounds and looks simple…but just like other people said, I have gaps between my beads. Made about 4 (different sizes beads and elastic) and no matter what i do I get those small gaps (usually one). When laying the bracelet flat it does not stay in a nice round shape, somewhere inbetween two beads there will be a gap. Please help.Do I tighten it too much? Should i pre-strech?

    • Hi Gina. You may be using beads that are too large or heavy on your bracelet? I don’t typically use over a 10 mm bead on stretch cord and often smaller than that. Anything larger does tend to “gap” a bit. If you are not using large beads then I would say you may not have it tight enough. I always pull tight and stretch the knot once I have tied the first overhand knot and then I tie another one and pull tight again sometimes a third and then apply a dab of GS hypo cement to the knot. At the same time, you can’t pull so hard that you are pulling the bracelet so that it starts to crumple in and loose it’s circle shape.

      Hope that helps.

      Tracy

  12. Hi. I have purchased bracelets made with two hole metal links in various styles, colors, sizes, etc. I am looking for an online jewelry making supply store or a craft store where I can purchase two hole metal links that can be strung on elastic cord. I can’t find anything like this anywhere. Can you help me?

    Thanks.

    Lougenia

    • Hi Lougenia.

      If you Google 2 or “3 hole spacer beads” you will find different kids and styles of them. There is not one store to tell you, it just depends on what color and look you are going for – but those are the terms to search. Good luck!

      Tracy

  13. Thank you so much…..I really needed this information!

  14. I would like to make watches with beaded stretch bands. The watch faces have 3 holes. Should I tie knots inside of each hole on the back of the watch and if so what type of knot to keep if from pulling through the hole. Or should I make continuous strands knotting them as you instruct above. Thanks for your help!

  15. I bought some of the GS Hypo adhesive bur am unsure of how to open it correctly. The tip has a long wire that is curved when I took the white cap off. I feel like if I pull the wire out it will break and get stuck in the tube. What to do? Thanks!

    • Hi Margaret. There is a wire like piece that is in the cap that is supposed to go in and out of the tiny applicator to keep it from drying and getting clogged. It should be perfectly straight and not bent. I have been through multiple tubes of GS hypo and mine has never been bent. You may have to try to bend it back straight and see if you can insert in back int he applicator tip. Otherwise, you could just clip off the wire, store it straight up and see how long it will last without clogging and drying. Hope this helps!

      Tracy

  16. I have read where some people make their knot by holding both ends and tie like you would a balloon. Have you tried that knot and was it successful? Also have you ever added a charm to a stretch bracelet?

    • I have not tried that way – yet. I would think it could work, I would still use a little glue and yes I use charms – as long as they are not heavy. Good luck!

      Tracy

  17. Do u have any tips on stringing tila beads on stretch?
    Your instructions r great

    Thank u. Mary Ann

    • Thanks Mary Ann. I don’t use tila beads for the most part and have not strung them on stretch cord before so I don’t really have any tips for you there. Sorry. : )(

  18. Have you ever used a metal link/connector, for example http://bit.ly/W5IUO9 with stretch cord? Do you think the metal edges would weaken it?

    • Hi I would also like to know about using metal connectors with stretch cord. Is this an ok mixture of materials or are connectors on stretch bracelets a no no?

      • Hi Sam. Yes it is done. As long as the metal connectors are smooth and they won’t fray the stretch cord over time you are fine! I love to mix different materials with stretch cord.

  19. I’m having lots of trouble tieing knotes, I’ve been makeing jewelry for a long time, and have always had trouble with knotes. A friend gave me her bracelet to fix for her its a two sided stretch very pretty, nice bracelet I used wood glue I can tie cords but,this stretch Magic 1mm .039in 25m, gives me much grief. I dont want to not be able to use the stretch cord but I’m at a stand still what should I do. thank You in advance.

    • It’s best to tie at least two or three overhand knots and finish with crazy glue or GS Hypo cement. I don’t think wood glue will hold – but I have never tired. You can also use a surgeons knot which is the most secure knot. You can google instructions on how to do that knot.

  20. Hi. I recently bought a bracelet, but the elastic broke, so I was thinking of buying some elastic cord and stringing it back together. I am a total novice and I have no idea how to start or finish. I tried a regular string, but it is too loose.

    • Buy some stretch magic at your local craft store in the beading section. String the beads on it and tie two overhand knots or a surgeon’s knot in the cord so it is tight to the beads. Trim the excell cord. Finish the knot with a tiny bead of crazy glue and it should hold for a long time. You can google how to tie a surgeons knot.

  21. Hi! I saw someone asked this question but I did not see a clear answer to what causes gaps between beads on a stretch bracelet? How can this be eliminated? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Beads that are all very large (over 8-10 mm) or beads that are too heavy for the stretch cord all tend to cause space or gaps between the beads on the stretch cord. It can also gap if you don’t pull the cord tight enough even with smaller beads. Stretch bracelets are generally the best when you use lighter beads small in size up to 8-10 mm max. Hope that helps!

      Tracy

  22. Found your very helpful site after buying stretch bracelet supplies today for the FIRST time. Question — you give 2 different answers to the question about pre stretching: In one answer you say you always automatically stretch the cord. In another you say you don’t do it.

    What should we do? Thanks!

    • Hi Juliann. Over time, I change the way I do things. I now have the habit of giving it a stretch before I string my beads. Several times I have discovered weak spots in bad cord and it has broken on me. Better to find that before you string. Most cord will not have weak spots and should not break, but I have been through tons of stretch cord. That’s just my routine because if I am going to sell something I want to make double sure it is strong. The most important part is your knot and testing the knot by pulling it tight several times and adding the little spot of hypo cement and letting it dry before wearing. Have fun making bracelets!

      Tracy

  23. I am not sure what happened to my post, but it disappeared. I am using 1mm Power Cord and I can’t get it to stay tied, even glue it glued, the knot just slips right out. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Wendy

    • Hi Wendy. I tie a knot then I pull it tight to make sure it is in there. I put several knots in, checking between each knot by pulling it, to make sure it stays in. Then after I make sure the knots are staying put, I add the glue. Hope that helps.

      Tracy

      • Thank you Tracy! I wasn’t tying tight enough between knots.

  24. Hi Tracy, I want to know is a surgeons knot the best for securing 10mm beads?? I use beadalon .8mm because I found that stretch magic was just too stretchy and stretched out on my arm if it fell too low at my wrist. What mm would u use for 10-12 mm beads? and what knot?

    • To be honest. I have never been successful with many larger beads like that for stretch bracelets – unless they are light wood or plastic beads. 10s maybe – but 12 mm beads are mostly going to pull and stretch too low on the wrist like you experienced. The surgeons knot is always good but a double overhand knot tied tightly between knots will work too. Don’t forget a dab of gs hypo or super glue to fix the knot. I switch to beading wire and use a clasp when the beads get bigger. Magnetic clasps are great for bracelets. It makes them very easy to take on and off.

    • Thank you for your quick response. I would love to attend one of your workshops that you mention in the DC area. I LOVE your work. Just wondering how you make those leather double loops that you attached to a stretch bracelet. Maybe a tutorial on that would be great!!!

  25. Whats size stretch magic would you use for 8mm pearl beads. I am having trouble hiding the knot. I am currently using .7mm by stretch magic. Please help! thanks

    • Hi Kisha.

      Pearls are challenging with stretch cord to hide the knot because the have such small holes. I think even if you use a thinner stretch cord like a .5mm you are still going to have a little knot showing. Then you risk the cord not being as strong as you may like. If you use a little glue and clip your excess cord closely, it should not stock out too much. Hope that helps.

      Tracy

      • Really like your site. I reem out the last pearl beed I use to accomandate the thread knot

  26. I need yo know how to use a bracelet connector that had a hole on both ends. Can someone please help. My email is brandiwoods@hotmail.com

  27. How do you tie a knot when using a connector?

    • Hi Nadine.

      If you have a connector, just loop the stretch cord around it and then run the cord back through the last few beads before the connector and tie the knot between the beads. This is what I usually do. Hope that helps. You do however have to have beads with a hole big enough to run the cord back through.

  28. hi
    your site is great I am having a problem witht he knots at the end once the beads are strung? It seems like they are not large enough and go right through the beads I am using? any suggestions ?

    thanks
    Tara

    • It is ok if they don’t fit through the holes. Mine don’t always fit either. Just be sure to pull the knot tight and dab a bit of GS hypo cement or crazy glue on your knot and let it dry for thirty minutes before wearing. Trim the ends of the excess stretch cord carefully as close to the knot as you can. It will be so small that the knot won’t be noticed. Hope that helps!

      Tracy

  29. Thanks Tracy but just to make sure the knots go right throught the bead holes so the entire bracelet falls apart when I am trying to knot the ends ?

    I am using 5mm stretch cord any other suggestions would I be able to use a stopper to hold the beads at the end?

    thans for the time and suggestions.
    Tara

  30. I purchased an inexpensive beaded watch that has two parallel stretch cords going through it. It’s too loose on my wrist…any ideas on how to tighten it up a bit?

    • Hi Shirley. You need to restring it on new stretch cord and pull it to the size you want before you tie the knots. You can purchase stretch Magic at your local craft store. Be sure to buy the thickest, strongest cord size you can that will fit through the holes of your beads.

  31. I HAVE A BRACELET IAM TRYING TO RE-STRING —- IT HAS A RECTANGLER PIECE WITH ONE HOLE .THEN A SPACER WITH TWO ROWS OF ROUND BEADS GOING AROUND THE BRACELET .EVER TWO BEADS THERE IS A SPACER ( 14 BEADS AND 8 SPACERS AND THE 1 RECTANGLER PIECE TO MAKE THE BRACELET ) I KNOTED IT AND RUN IT THRU THE RECTANGLER PIECE AND DID ONE ROW AROUND WENT BACK THRU THE RECTANGLER PIECE AND DID THE SECOND ROW BUT CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TIE IT OFF TO FINISH IT. CAN ANYONE HELP ME OR AM I DOING IT WRONG ” HELP ” PLEASE

    • Hi Ruth. You can send me a picture by email if you want. It is hard to envision what your configuration is from your description. Thanks! tjstatler@comcast.net

  32. I use this same method on my stretch bracelets. You can see some in my etsy shop. If you have one as well, let me know. :-) http://www.etsy.com/shop/crystalkristel

  33. Thank you so much for these most simple instructions! That’s what I like…simple!
    What better way to get your braclets to match your outfits than to make them yourself. And way cheaper too. I’m a newbie and now I can’t wait to get started an some new pieces!

  34. Will seed beads work with this method? And…do you use a needle?….or will the stretchy thread fit through?

    • Yes they would work well for larger hole seed beads. You should not need a needle for the larger seed beads 11o – down to 6o. 6o being some of the largest seed beads. Smaller seed beads would be hard to get on the stretchy cord and take more patience than I have!

  35. Hi…I’m trying to attach a rhinestone cross connector like the ones used in honesty bracelets…don’t want the knots to show…..any idea how to manage this? Thanks!

    • Don’t tie the knot near the connector. You can just tie the knot so it is between the beads and hide the knot between the beads or slip into one of the beads if it has a big enough hole. You will have to start with a big piece of stretch cord so you can loop around the connector or take two pieces of stretch cord and loop around each side of the connector and tie the two pieces of stretch together and hide the knot between the beads. Hope that makes sense.

      Tracy

  36. These little babies are harder than I thought!! The first one I made too short and all the elastic showed. The second one I made too long and it hung on the wrist. I want to write to say how much I appreciate t tjstatler (I don’t know who you are and just stumbled onto this blog) — how much I learned from all your answers to people’s questions. What amazes me is that usually people post questions on various bead websites but no one ever checks to answer them. So, thank you, thank you!!!

  37. Want to mention I am making bracelets for Christmas gifts.

  38. How do you string a bracelet that consist of separate curved bars with 2 holes at either end? I can only find instructions for the stretch cord with beads.

    • Hi Emma.

      You treat it the same. String the cord through the bars. You can use two pieces. One for the top set of holes and one for the botton – and tie the knots just the same way in the stretch cord as you would with the a bead. You can usually slide the knots so they are on the back side of the bars instead of between the beads. Hope that helps!

      Tracy

  39. Thank you very much for this helpful info :-)

  40. Thanks all of these ideas are very helpful. I make paper bead bracelets and wanted to start making seed bead bracelets as accent bracelets but wasn’t sure how to tie them off securely!

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