Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beaded Watchband tutorial

Beaded watch bands are all the craze right now. I've seen them all over at craft boutiques, but never saw one I fell in love with. Either the colors weren't right, or it didn't fit. But I finally decided to try my hand at making my own. Perfect! Now I can make them the way I want them. I craft with a friend, and I love seeing the difference between our styles. We each like our jewelry different - she likes bigger beads, I usually go for a bit smaller. I like more symmetry and balance, she likes random.
And look at my variety! I think I have a watchband to go with any outfit, now. And the pink and orange on the left are my youngest daughter's. So many options . . .
I thought I'd share some instructions for making your own, if you so desire. The hardest part is choosing your beads. Besides beads, you need stretchy cord, found at the craft store, in at least .7 mm. I prefer the 1 mm, but a few times, I've had a bead that doesn't fit. Then I've used .8 mm. The bigger the number, the stronger the cord. Stronger is better. The rest of the supplies needed are 2 connectors, 4 lobster clasps, and super glue. (Plus your watch face.)
As for the beads, I choose 3-4 similar sized beads, matching or coordinating the colors. Then add a few silver or clear. You might need a few small beads to be able to even out the spacing and make each side the same size.
(This part is easier if you lay it out on a bead tray or a dishcloth/dishtowel/etc so your beads don't roll away.) Start by laying out your beads, and design the order of your watchband. Typically, in the boutiques, watchbands run 4.5" (small), 5" (medium), 5.5" (large), and 6" (extra large). I have big wrists, and like mine loose, so I make mine 6.5"-7". My 11 yr old skinny-minny is 5.5" - I don't know who would wear a 4.5".

As you lay out your beads, remember to plan the 2 connectors, dividing the band into 3rds, the 4 lobster clasps, 2 on each end, and a bead (or 2) between the clasps to hold them apart. I try to balance the size of beads so each side has equal weight, and the weight is spread along the length, as well. It can be tricky, but I have no tricks. You just have to try it a few times to see how you like it, and get a feel for the placement. On this watchband, I think this will work.
Now, you won't know for sure if it works until you start stringing. Cut a 15"-18" piece of cord and start stringing at one end of the watch, placing the 2 clasps and the bead between them in the middle of the cord. Then string the beads up to the first connector.
I like to hold mine up, here. It makes it easier to see if both sides are coming out equal in length. Sometimes, the connector might be crooked, so you'll have to unstring a few and add, take away, or switch around some beads. It takes practice, and sometimes a fair amount of luck. So far, this one is matching up nicely.
Until I got to the end, and I didn't like those 2 silver beads so close to each other.
Take a few off, switch them around, and I like this better.
Now, as you finish, have your two ends of cord meet NOT next to the clasps. When you super glue the knot, you don't want it getting on the clasps because as you use your watchband, the super glue with weaken the cord if it rubs on the clasp. I try to find a bead that has a larger center so I can pull the knot inside it.

When the band is how you like it and you've finished stringing all the beads, tie a modified square knot. Right over left, left over right . . . but wrap the second one twice. So, right over left, left over right over right.
See how my knot will fit in the silver bead after I glue it?
I'll go ahead and pull one end of the cord through now to help me hold both ends with one hand so I can stretch, glue, and take pictures for you.
Get that knot pulled away from the beads, and pulled tight. This can be extremely tricky with one hand. I usually end up wrapping the cord around a few fingers, effectively cutting off my circulation. Now, squeeze one drop of super glue onto the knot and HOLD. Hold the knot away from the beads as much as possible, for as long as possible. I try to hold it for 10-15 minutes so the glue won't stick to any of the beads and get stuck. But you do need the glue in order to hold the knot.
After the glue dries, pull the knot into a larger-holed bead (if you have one) . . .
. . . and trim the ends of the cord
That's it! Now, wear your watch and plan your next watchband to match the next outfit.

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