There are several options in making a braided leather bracelet. I will include variations of the basic design to give you some ideas, while providing directions for the most professional and lovely bracelet options. You can also add beads, charms, dangles, and other accents to the basic form and have a lovely bracelet that is fantastic to look at.
To make the fanciest version, you will need the following materials:
- Leather thongs
- String or strips
- Super glue
- 18 or 20 gauge wire in a color that appeals to you
- 2 cones (depending on the size of your leather you will want to have corresponding cones, but remember that there will be three strands of leather)
- A clasp of your choice
The only tools you will need are scissors, wire cutters, and a pair of pliers of your choice.
- Cut the leather. You have several options when choosing leather for this project.
- You can use leather thongs that can be purchased in a wide range of sizes
- You can opt for leather cords, which are rounded (and usually available in some lovely colors)
- You can purchase a swatch of leather and cut your own.
Cutting your own makes for a very flexible option, both physically and in how the finished product looks. You can cut it up to 3/4" and still work it well, but you will want to make sure you use a blade cutter and make a very straight and not rugged edge. Cut these strands to be about 14" long (whichever type you choose).
- Prepare the first end. You have a few options for finishing this piece. You can tie a knot and leave enough space to simply tie it to the wearer's wrist. This is simple and quick.
You can also do this and finish it with a cord, ribbon, or leather end. This clamps or folds onto the project, allowing you to add a clasp of your choice.
The last and fanciest option is to add a cone and clasp. To do this, you will want to make a very loose knot with your three strands of leather. Take a 3 inch wire (of 18 or 20 gauge) and run it through the knot. Tighten the knot around the wire. Add a drop or two of super glue. (Be careful to only add a drop or two. You want to lock the knot, but you don't want the glue to wick into the project because it will become discolored and stiff.) Carefully bend your wire up and twist to form a loop that runs through the knot (as small of a loop as you can). Trim off your excess leather at the top of the knot. Add a cone over the wire and onto the knot. You will then want to make a wrapped wire loop at the top of the cone.
- Prepare to braid. Tape the end of the piece to the table, or pin it to a macrame pin board. This will make it easy to braid using both hands, but not having to worry about it coming undone.
- Braid your leather. Hold the right strand and the left strand in the corresponding hands. Move the left strand over the middle one, move the middle one to the left hand. Then move the right strand over the middle one and the middle one to the right hand. Continue with this switching of the strands, making sure you pull it all tight.
- Knot your end. Once the bracelet is of an appropriate length (if using cones and a clasp, make sure you include this in your length), knot your work. If you are using the cone finishing method, then you will want to make this knot a light one.
- Repeat the finishing. You will want to finish this piece in the same manner as the other end.
- Add clasps. If you are using a method that requires clasps, add them now. For the cone method you will add one end of the clasp to each end of the piece by attaching it to the wrapped wire loops. You may need jump rings depending on the type of clasp you are adding. If you used a cord end, then you will also need to add a clasp to finish the piece.
You can now have a beautiful well finished piece. If you haven't yet, make sure all ends and knots are glued. Carefully do this so as not to make the piece stiff or to discolor the leather. With practice this piece is a beautiful addition to any jewelry wardrobe, makes great gifts, and can even be added to the craft market or fair jewelry table.
Danelle invites you to visit another of her crafting articles, "Beading Technique: How to Make a Wrapped Wire Loop".