Beaded Wrap Bracelets – Still Hip or So Yesterday?

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I’ll admit that I’m not the most fashion obsessed trend chaser but I do make sure I keep myself fairly up to speed on what’s new and going on in fashion – not saying you will find me wearing it often  – but I am pretty much in the know.  Especially when it comes to jewelry (and handbags) – but that’s another blog.

I ran into a little friendly forum controversy a few weeks back and I want to see what you think?!

I really like beaded wrap bracelets or I should say “I still like beaded wrap bracelets”.   Chan Luu was the first to really make them popular and since then, many have followed in her beaded wrap bracelet footsteps.   In my opinion, she still has the most beautiful color combinations available and the artisans she uses to assemble her work do a fantastic job on the construction.

Chan Luu mixed agate wrap bracelet from ChanLuu.com

Someone (I will not name them) told me in a forum recently (who lives in NYC) that beaded wrap bracelets are so yesterday! I beg to differ.  It seems they are still selling like crazy and different designers are finding ways to make them look new and fresh.

These bracelets seem difficult to make at first, but once you learn a few tricks, they are a pretty easy and you can get really creative with the beads.  The wrap bracelet has an easy, chic bohemian look and they feel great on the wrist.  I love that you can wear them when you are active and still be comfortable  – they are just cool to wear when you are doing yoga!  I’ve seen some bracelets that wrap up to five times around the wrist.  The one I wear the most (pictured below) goes around my wrist twice.  Truth be told, I have not been patient enough to make one long enough to wrap five times! This bracelet I made with 1mm silver Greek leather round cord and 3mm silver plated rounds.

I noticed something very interesting in my web sleuthing this morning. Traditionally, beaded wrap bracelets have been made with round leather cord.  The leather provides a nice strong “framework” to weave the beads between.  I’ve seen cotton used for a macrame, friendship bracelet effect and now I’ve seen waxed Irish linen as the side cording in some bracelets.

Chan Luu Pyrite wrap bracelet made from waxed Irish Linen. Photo from Athleta.com

So here is my new challenge:  I am going to make a beaded wrap bracelet using the waxed Irish linen.  I’ll try the 7 ply I have but I think I may have to cave and go to http://www.royalwoodltd.com and splurge on some 12 ply.  (It’s pricey).   It is also possible to use a waxed cotton cord or a faux leather to bring down the cost of the materials.   I love a bracelet making challenge!  Stay tuned for photos and the outcome of my linen beaded wrap bracelet experiment!  If it all works out, there will be a video in the works to show you how the wrap bracelets are made with the waxed linen cord.

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I say the beaded wrap bracelet trend is still alive and well! What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know if you like beaded wrap bracelets and if you would like to learn how to make them.

29 Comments

  1. I love these bracelets! So cool and go-with-everything-ish!

  2. “Yesterday” or not (and I think NOT) – I just made my husband one of these for Christmas. I used braided leather and large jasper beads, with a Celtic shield-looking button closure. I love his so much, I’ve got to make one for myself!! The possibilities for a bracelet like this are endless…crytals, pearls, gemstones, etc. Looking forward to seeing yours! ;o}

    • That sounds like a really great bracelet Tess! My husband has been asking me for a bracelet… I really need to get around to that. : ) I agree the possibilities are endless.

  3. I really like the look of the wrap bracelet and would like instructions on how to make one. I think the possibilities are endless too!

  4. They are great! Bring on the instructions. Thanks for sharing, Tracy.

  5. Great post, Tracy! I was not aware of who the originator of that bracelet was! Good to know! I personally LOVE these bracelets!!! I was obsessed with these for a while. (still am) I did make myself one once. They are time-consuming so I never got around to making another one. I’m sure there are different ways of going about making one, so I’d love to see your version!

    • Thanks Erin. I love them too and they are a little time consuming – which is why I have never had the patience to go for more than a double wrap (or enough of one kind of bead for that matter). We will see! : )

  6. i made a few over the holiday’s for the first time and used fire line 6 lb test to ‘sew’ on the beads. liked it because the long length didn’t twist or knot, but as you can guess – it does nothing for the design / color contribution. i’ve received a few different technique instructions, and i’d be interested in yours too. some suggest going back through the beads twice, and some do not – which makes a difference in the finished look (meaning, seeing loops on both, or alternating sides, of the leather ‘frame’.) can’t wait to see your instructions!

    • I’ve used Fireline too. The one I just did I used Nymo and I do go back through the bead twice as it gives in tons of strength. I think the thread can be a part of the design as long as it complements your color scheme. I hope to get some pics up later today and some basic instructions to proceed the video.

  7. That silver and grey one is just gorgeous. I’d love one of those, in or not!!

  8. I don’t live in NYC, and just discovered this style recently. I found it quite inspiring. I enjoy bead weaving with those little seed beads, but it can be a little tedious. This is like bead weaving on a larger scale. I also like using leather and silk instead of metal components for a more bohemian, earthy look.

    So, I made a test of it because it looked like fun. The start of it looks awful, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it and there are so many combinations you can use. The one I made for myself is a double wrap and uses black leather, gold silk thread and A-grade sheen obsidian (I wanted black thread so the obsidian would stand out more, but had gone to Michael’s because all I needed was the thread and they were out of black!)

    It is my prototype, and one of the first things I noticed about wearing it is exactly what you said: you can be active and still wear it, which I can’t always do with other bracelets. Most of the time I can’t even feel it on!

    As far as I am concerned, the wrap is still here and I’m going to continue making them!

    • i agree it is hip and forever will be because of all the endless possibilities. I wish i knew of them sooner. lol. I used silk thread. I saw that the chan lu uses thicker thread then i did.
      i wanted to know what size is best to use. anyone familiar with silk thread

      • Use nymo size D or an S lon or C lon bead thread. Silk thread is mostly suitable for pearl stringing but may not be strong enough on a wrao bracelet that is worn daily and where the threads are exposed and getting rubbed against things all the time.

  9. And even if it’s not “in”, I’m not much of a fashionista myself. I wear what I like and these bracelets feel great to wear!

    • I agree Diane! That is one of my favorite things about these bracelets – besides looking really cool… I have arrived at a point in my life where I want to be pulled together and good, but I really need to be comfortable or I just won’t go for it.

  10. Still hip!! For me they will always be. There’s something about natural elements that I just love. I have a question for you. Any idea how to make the heavy cotton cord weave used in this Chan Luu design?
    http://images.bloomingdales.com/is/image/BLM/products/9/optimized/1173559_fpx.tif?wid=325&qlt=90,0&layer=comp&op_sharpen=0&resMode=sharp2&op_usm=0.7,1.0,0.5,0&fmt=jpeg
    I absolutely love the chunkiness of the weave !!

    • Hi Aisha. It looks like it ist 6 strands all braided together. I like the chunkiness of it too.

  11. Trends are trends…they ALWAYS come back whether it be 6 months from now, a year or 10 years. But honestly…I will wear them if they are trending or not.

  12. I think they’re hip too, and I’ve had clients ask about them and so I’m ready to make them for my site. I made a prototype for myself and haven’t taken it off except to shower!! I love it! You’re right, they’re comfortable and natural looking too – two things which in my book are always in-style!! I will check out your video/tutorial on these – can’t wait!!
    thanks!!

  13. One of the best things about these bracelets is that they can be made with any beads and button closures you desire (and love!), and you can match or contrast your leather/linen/cotton cord. You can always add a personal touch too, like a tiny charm or metal cord ends.

    Beauty and creativity are always in fashion! <3

  14. Leather wrap bracelets are not yesterday. They’ve been around for years and I’m quietly surprised the design is attributed to Chan Luu. I am positively stunned when I see what they sell for. In my childhood, local women made these and, yes, originally they were made from string as well as hair and leather. As for the heavy cotton cord design up above, this is made with a handheld knitting spool – you know, the ones we used in childhood? The very same. In my opinion, tapestry thread gives a much better finish though.

    • Hi Angelina. Chan Luu certainly did not invent the concept – but she did certainly refine it and create beautiful variations. She was responsible for launching it to the fashion world and making it an incredibly main stream and popular bracelet. Her designer marketing is the reason for the amazing prices of the bracelets! Thanks for the info about the knitting spool!

  15. Aisha, the heavy cotton cord of the Chan Luu bracelet in question is a Kumihimo weave made on (as Angelina says above) a small round or square knitting spool. They can be stunning. I’ve never worked with tapestry thread, but I’ll take Angelina’s word about the finish. : )

  16. What is the thread used in the Chan Luu wraps.It appears heavier than nymo but getting through the bead with thread twice can be a challenge

    • Hi Teri. To tell you the truth, I do not know exactly what Chan Lu manufactures them with. I use the nymo and it is a strong enough beading thread and thin enough to go through the smaller beads. Keep in mind, I think she doubles the thread on some of her bracelets.

  17. I have been using Superlon beading thread size D to make these bracelets. I’ve used Nymo too, and the Superlon is stronger and a bit less likely to tangle (and seems to need less Thread Heaven or beeswax). I always double the thread and have no problem bringing the doubled Superlon through the beads twice. Just something to try, maybe. : )

    • Thanks for the suggestion Meridy! I think I actually have some. I will have to try it to compare.

  18. I really love them!!

  19. Still in! I also find it so relaxing when I am working on one! I’d love your designs and tutorials!

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