July 26, 2014

6 Tips for Making Elastic Stretch Bracelets that Last


Every day it seems my jewelry making life changes in ways I would have never imagined.

I'm loving stretch bracelets right now, and a few years ago - I would have scoffed at the idea.   I feel so much better as I open up to the possibilities of each material.


But, with each new material comes learning the ins and outs of how to make the most of it.

Here's what I think I've learned about making strech elastic bracelets so far.

1.  Use the thickest elastic that will fit through your beads.  


I've followed the same philosophy with wire as well.  It looks neater, feels more secure and I am guessing will result in a higher quality finished product.  

Use quality elastic too.  I use Stretch Magic.  My most used sizes of elastic are .7 mm and 1mm.

2.  If the only elastic that fits seems too thin for the weight of the bead, find another use for those beads.


Not all beads can be used on a stretch bracelet.  There are plenty of ways to still use these beads on a stretch bracelet securely, like stringing the front on soft flex or wire and then adding a section of beads strung on elastic for the back half of the bracelet.  Think outside the box and don't compromise on the quality!


Six tips for making elastic stretch bracelets that last!

3.  Pre-Stretch your elastic before stringing.


I don't know how many other people do this, but a pet peeve of mine is seeing a stretched out elastic bracelet with space between the beads or sagging on the wrist.  Gently run your fingers down and pull the elastic taut from end to end before stringing.  Depending on the thickness of the elastic, it will stretch a little or a lot.  I find thinner elastics stretch more - but you don't want to remove all the give, so be gentle.


4.  Use a surgeon's knot to keep the knot from slipping or untying.


A surgeon's knot is like a square knot with an extra pull through.  It's used for securing sutures.  It works. 


5.  Add a drop of crazy glue to the knot ends if you think it still might slip.


Your mileage may vary on this one.  It works for me, and I wear test my jewelry for weeks, everyday, in the shower, sleeping in it, just to see how things will last in the worst conditions.  Some people claim the glue breaks down the elastic.  I haven't found that to be the case.  

Another good glue to try is E6000.  It stays flexible, unlike crazy glue.


6.  Cover your knot if you can.


Grrrr.  I just made a custom order and I didn't cover my knots.  I want to run and get all of the bracelets back now that I've figured out a great way to do that.  I'll show you my trick in a future post.  

The easiest way to cover the knot is to slip it inside a bead after you've put that drop of crazy glue on it.  BUT, if you've followed my first tip, it isn't going to fit!  That means you'll need to cover it with another type of bead.

Please use the comments to let me know if you have a tip or trick that I didn't share.  Also, if your stretch bracelets break - maybe you should read this: 7 Reasons Why Your Stretch Elastic Bracelets Break.


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34 comments:

  1. Lisa, I agree with all your tips and I already do all of these steps. I sent my niece one and she said it broke and ask her how she put it on,she had stretched it way out. I try to tell everyone to just roll the bracelet over your hand.

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    1. Oh yes! That is so true. Always roll on the bracelets instead of stretching them. Thank you for adding that to my list!!

      Lisa

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  2. I have been making stretch bracelets for my own use since the elastic cord became widely available. I agree with your tips, except I really didn’t like a single thick cord. Among the materials I use are small “Christmas” beads, shell heishi, small and large gemstone pebbles, sea urchin beads, amber, and chevron beads mixed with Czech glass. I wear multiple strands of the same or mixed sizes of compatible materials. They are comfortable to wear and a lot of fun, although I sometimes meet people who are still burned out from the power bead fad of years ago. I haven’t made any to sell at this point because I have had a few well-worn bracelets break. Now I’m experimenting with interspersing small knots along the length where they are less noticeable (and avoiding gaps) so I don’t lose everything if it breaks. I’ve tried doubling very thin cord but it wasn’t satisfactory, and I do pre-stretch. These fun bracelets are quick to make, comfortable, easy to mix and match, and a great way to try out materials.

    I hadn’t thought about combining elastic cord and soft-flex wire---you’ve expanded the possibilities! I am looking forward to your tip about covering knots.

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    1. It sounds like you've had lots of experience with stretch bracelets. Thanks for letting me know what you are trying. Please let me know what works well for you. I always love to learn a new trick.

      Lisa

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    2. An update---I decided to try the Stretch Magic brand of cord since I had been using really old spools of Powercord and Elastasoft. I ordered a .07mm spool but what I received was actually .05mm. I was disappointed but decided to try again. Remembering your advice to use the biggest size possible for the bead, I took a chance on the 1mm size, although my previous experience long ago with a different brand was nasty. I really love this Stretch Magic! I just finished a bracelet of serpentine/white quartz small peanut-shaped beads and it worked very well. I did pre-stretch it, which was needed, but adjusting the cutting length will give me more than the 100m on the spool. Thanks for the win-win!

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  3. Yeah... mixing stretchy with wire for the tiny-holed beads... that's a good one. Thank you for that.

    B

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    1. I read your comment to Lisa. I was wondering how you use both wire and elastic cording. Can you send me instructions or tell me where to find a video? Thanks, Dixie

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  4. I love all of the colors of this bracelet, it can go with anything!

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  5. Have you found any way to restring a broken elastic bracelet besides taking all the beads off and restringing them one by one onto a new piece of elastic? That is so tedious and i seems I end up bumping something and get the beats out of order, etc. Arrgh!!

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    1. My favorite bracelet broke and I slid a fine needle and thread thru the beads while still in order. Then slid the old elastic out and ran the new elastic in. New bracelet and no beads going crazy.

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  6. Lisa, thank you for your tips. I am actually interested in your tip on how to hide knot when it doesn't fit through the bead hole

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  7. Lisa, thank you for your tips. I am actually interested in your tip on how to hide knot when it doesn't fit through the bead hole

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  8. Hi Lisa,
    I make bracelet for my grandkids for the bookweek and how many time always broken, I feel sorry for her because she has to took all in the floor.
    First I tried with elastic, plastic strings and yesterday with wire 0.35mm but still broken. Or maybe I bought wrong staff, I always asked the lady who sell the staff.

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  9. Where did you get those charms? Love them!

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    1. Oh - I make those! Brick stitch around a bead. Here's a tutorial to get you started: http://www.lisayangjewelry.com/2014/05/making-miguel-ases-style-jewelry-basic.html

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  10. I've been making jewelry for over 20 years. I use stretch magic a lot also (although I sometimes use other types of elastic as well). I agree with all of your tips! However, no elastic cord will last forever. I tell my customers that if they wear their bracelet a lot (some wear them almost daily) the bracelet should be restrung about once a year. I also tell them that about the beading wire jewelry too. A lot of lanyards are made with beading wire that people wear daily at work. Those need to be redone about every year or so.

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    1. Great tips! I will start telling people that too!

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  11. Hello and very nice blog!
    I've been making and selling stretch bracelets for over 13 years. I have tried Stretch Magic and various others. However, over the last 5 years I changed and only ever use Powercord 1mm and have not had one breakage returns or complaints. I also place a dob of UHU quickset transparent Epoxy adhesive which secures the knots and sets before they start to unravel. I have bought in cheap stretch pearl bracelets from china and they break after about 2 months wear :/ However, I am still wearing bracelets almost every day, that I made over 3 years ago with Powercord. I only wish someone would supply the UK with Powercord as I normally have to import it.

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    1. I will have to try Powercord and compare!

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  12. Hi, Can anyone help please? I've just started making stretch bracelets and want to make some as Christmas gifts however I'm concerned about the silver charms I want dangling from the. Surely if I use open jump rings they can easily fall of the cord whereas how would you use closed jump rings? I'm puzzled. Thanks.

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    1. There are a couple of solutions. Yes, round open jump rings can potentially open and slide off the bracelet, but if they are the right thickness (gauge) and closed properly, it doesn't happen often. A solution in jump rings is to use oval jump rings. The shape keeps the opening at the side, and not in contact with the elastic.
      What I use a lot for round bead bracelets (7mm or larger) is these connectors from Fire Mountain Gems http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h206719fd that I string on when I string the bracelet. It gives a loop to connect the charm that I can use any connector or jump ring of my choice. Again, if you choose the correct gauge and size jumpring, it shouldn't be a problem if it's round, but oval jump rings decrease the risk of a slight opening developing and slipping off.

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    2. Thank you so much for your reply. That's a big help to me. I shall take your advice. Thanks again.

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    3. I've looked on the website and seen the connectors but I'm in the UK and think I'll stick with your other suggestion therefore can you please give me the correct gauge of jump ring if I'm using 0.8 Stretch Magic cord and 6-8mm beads? I also wondered if a dab of glue on the ring might be beneficial? I use GS Hypo Cement glue. Thank you.

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    4. Maybe use a small crimp cover over the jump ring opening. Just a thought!

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    5. Yes, I was going to suggest a crimp bead or crimp cover over the knot!

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    6. When in doubt I always use 2 jump rings and it looks like part of the Design. 2 jump rings together are never going to open up at the same place.

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  14. Hello I am NU @ elastic bracelets, Yes, I just tried 3 x's to knot the end and whoose, my beads went everywhere. I was frustrated. went online and found YOU! and your tips. I am excited again. Can't wait to see how to hid the knots. nana

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  15. OH ! ! ! I have several times tired the surgeon knot. Have tried to follow the diagram. But it does not work for me and I have many beads. What am I NOT doing rigt?

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  16. I love your tips. I cover my knots with a crimp cover if I remember. Allie. From Alice in Jewelryland

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  17. Lufthansa to tie a surgeon's knot: looking at your bracelet take the right side of elastic and put over and then under the left string. Then take the left and put it over and under the right two times. Pull your lower knot close to your bracelet. With your index finger in between the upper and lower knot. Then pull your upper knot down to your finger. Once the upper knot touches your finger, slowly pull your finger out as you pull the knot tighter. Pull until you reach the bracelet and then give it a few light tugs. Your knot should be pretty secure. But take all pieces of elastic including the pieces your beads are on and pull gently to slightly firm on your knot. Then pull the elastic on the beaded part of your bracelet to make sure it doesn't slip out. If it stays, put a dab of e6000 on your knot. I use a toothpick. Then I squeeze it with my two fingers to get the glue to spread throughout the knot. When it dries try to get some of the extra glue off so your knot isn't so big and then you can hide it better. Hope this helps and didn't confuse you more. Lol Jan Baird

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    1. Great instructions for a surgeon's knot. I try to keep a little tension on the knot as I pull it tight too.

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  18. I find it's much better to just tie a knot make sure it's tension you want & then tie another knot on other side coming around the front so it's reversed from 1st. That SECURES the knot. I dab the glue you can get at Michael's & quickly pull the knot thru my bead so it's glued inside & hidden

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  19. when hsing stretch magic do you use a pre threaded needle? Thanks

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