Have you seen the Shamballa-style bracelets and thought about making your own? With basic macrame techniques, a bit of cord and beautiful beads, you can! They add some sparkle to any outfit, and are a hit with jewelry lovers of all ages. Today’s tutorial will walk you through how to make your own adjustable shamballa-style bracelet.
- Bamboo Cord (or your favorite hemp, cotton, or waxed linen in a 20-lb. weight)
- Sparkly Rhinestone Ball Beads (I used these 12mm brown rhinestone ones)
- Craft Glue (optional but helpful)
- Large, Blunt-end Needle (plastic canvas needles work well for this!)
First – cut three lengths of cord, two about 20 inches long, and one about 6 feet long. You will need an additional 2 feet of cord to finish the sliding closure at the end, so be sure you have around 12 feet of cord to work with before you get started. Secure your two 20-inch cords to your work surface. I like to use a clipboard for this, but you can pin it or clip it to whatever surface works for you. (Growing up, I’d use a safety pin and pin bracelets right to the knee of my jeans.) Find the center of your long cord, and tie it around your two shorter cords about 6 inches down from the top. I’ll refer to the shorter cords as your center cords when I explain the knots, and each side of the longer cord as the right and left strand. In fact, there’s no rule that you HAVE to have 2 center cords – but it makes a wider bracelet than just using one. You can try more if you like too – just be sure that whatever you use, the hole in your beads fits onto ALL your center cords. I moved the whole bracelet up my clipboard to give me more room to work – so you’ll see short ends here – just know that they are still there – just clipped underneath! Next, I used a bit of craft glue on the ends of my two center strands to keep them from unraveling. It helps a lot when it’s time to add beads, though it’s not required – especially if you are using beads with large holes. Now, the knots can be intimidating when you try it for the first time, but it’s really just a simple square knot, capturing those center cords inside. I’ll break down the knot step by step for you. You can begin on either the right or the left side (you will alternate, beginning your knot from each side as you go) but I started on the right side. The photos below will walk you through. First, pass your right strand over the center cords, making a loose loop. Then, take your left cord and pass it over the right cord, then under the center strands. Finally, pass it back over the loop you made on the right, and feed it through the loop. Pull on both the right and the left strands to close the knot, keeping your center cords taut. If you’ve done it right, you’ll find that you’ve just made an everyday square knot, capturing the center cords inside. Now, begin your knot on the other side. Pass your LEFT strand over the center cords, making a loose loop. Take your right cord and pass it over the left cord, then under the center strands. Finally, pass it back over the loop you made on the left, and feed it through the loop. Pull the knot snug. You have to alternate from one side to the next to keep your weaving straight. If you only begin your knot from one side, the knots will make a spiral. Which is also really lovely – it’s just not the look we’re going for in this style bracelet! Now, continue knotting along the bracelet to create length, alternating from right to left as you work. For this 5-bead style, create 1-1/2 inches of knots. Then, string a bead onto BOTH center strands. (You’ll see how that glue comes in handy in this step!) Then, continue to make a few knots (I made 4, but for different styles you can add more or fewer beads, or use more or fewer knots!) After you have added all five 12 mm beads, then finish off the rest of the bracelet with another 1-1/2 inches of knots, creating a total length of 6 1/2 inches. You don’t have to keep strictly to the pattern I am using, get creative! As long as you create a knotted length of approximately 6 1/2 inches total, it can be any combination you like. When you get to the end, thread your right and left cords onto a large, blunt tipped needle, and feed the tails back into the bracelet. Go in at least 4 knots – more is fine! Now, trim off the loose ends! Next, you will need to create our sliding closure. To do this, you’ll be using the same knots as you did in the bracelet, only instead of knotting them onto two center cords, you’re going to make knots over the tail ends of your bracelet. First, wrap your two tail ends over each other. Don’t stress if they aren’t even, you just need to make sure you’re working with enough excess that they do NOT pull out while you are working. All four cords need to stay secure – we will create a stopper next, but for now you won’t have that safeguard. (It’s also why I told you to make these tails longer than your finished length to begin with.) Cut off a 2-foot length of cord, find the center, and tie it around all 4 cords. It should be snug, but not so tight that the bracelet ends can’t move. Make sure your sliding closure still slides! Now, tie 1/2 inch worth of knots. When you get to the end, feed the tails back through ALL the knots – just like we did with the bracelet, only heavy-duty! This part of the bracelet will get the most wear, so you really can’t be *too* secure here. Trim off the ends so they don’t show. Those tucked-in tails won’t go anywhere. Almost finished! Now is where you will even up the bracelet ties and add stoppers, so your bracelet won’t come undone with wear. Carefully expand it so that it fits over the widest part of your wrist, making sure to center the slider. At this point on each end, tie an overhand knot to stop it from sliding any farther. It’s always pretty to thread on a bead, and tie another knot here – but it is totally optional. You can trim it off just beyond the knot if you prefer. And now you have a trendy piece to be proud of making! As with any kind of repetitive craft (like tying dozens of knots!), you will probably find that you find your own technique and rhythm. Your first bracelet will be lovely, but will probably take about 90 minutes. With more experience you will find you can zip right through them, and you’ll find your knots become more uniform, resulting in a professional-quality piece. I would love to hear about it if you make one of these bracelets! There’s so much room to personalize it and make it your own – I can’t wait to see what style you come up with!