Making a beaded cuff bracelet
Written by Cindy Henry, all rights reserved

Beaded Cuff Bracelet Instructions

Instructions on using Lacy's Stiff Stuff and deerskin when making a cuff bracelet:

Today we're going to talk about making a Cuff Bracelet using the following materials:

1. 1" wide aluminum, copper or brass cuff blank. (We sell these under supplies and can even make custom sizes!)

2. Lacy's Stiff Stuff (We also sell this under supplies.)

3. Cabochon(s) of your choice

4. Seed beads in your choice of size and colors; I use mainly size 11 seed beads but also use quite a few size 15. Remember the bigger the size number, the smaller the bead!

5. Beading needle. Make sure it is a needle made for doing beadwork; regular sewing needles are just too big to fit through seed beads, especially adding thread and going through the same bead several times! A good rule of thumb is to use a needle whose size number is the same as your beads...for example, size 11 beads can use a size 11 needle. I myself prefer to use a needle one size smaller than that; size 11 beads means a size 12 needle. Just personal may have to experiment with what you prefer.

6.Thread. I like Nymo thread; it is strong, comes in lots of pretty colors and doesn't tangle very easily. You could use Silamide thread if you prefer, just do not use regular sewing thread as it will fray, tangle and break on you......causing a headache that you just don't need, am I right? :)

7. Beeswax. This is for coating your thread. You just draw your thread over a cake of beeswax and it gives it a nice thin coat. This helps keep your thread from fraying and also helps keep it tangle free. You may have to re-coat your thread periodically as you are working. You could also use Thread Heaven, a product made specifically for coating bead thread. Again, personal preference. I like beeswax.

8. Leather for the backing. We use deer leather as it's very soft and strong, but you can use whatever you wish....deerskin, ultrasuede, even strong felts and fabrics!

9. Glue. I use E-6000 glue for almost everything, but you can use whatever glue you like. Just not Elmers School Glue or the like, lol.

10. A bead tray and mat. To be honest, I use an old cookie sheet, LOL! It has the side edges that keep my work contained on the tray and fits just right on my lap. You can try the cookie sheet tray or buy a special "bead tray".....totally up to you. I have been thinking of decoupaging my cookie sheet bead tray just to pretty it up. (and to play, lol) Now, the bead mat is something I find essential. It is a soft and slightly fuzzy piece of material that gives some cushion to the bead tray surface, keeps your beads from rolling around too much and really helps you pick up beads with your needle. I cannot work without one!

Ok, deep breath....we begin! Assuming that you have already gathered all the nessecary materials, The first thing that you need to do is cut the Lacy's Stiff Stuff. You are making a bracelet that is 1" across and a bit over 7" long. Your Stiff Stuff will need to be 1 1/2 to 2" across and at least 8"" long. The Stiff Stuff we sell comes in sheets that are 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, so all I usually do is cut off one end as wide as I need. I then take a pen and my cuff blank and trace around the cuff while holding it on the Lacy's. This can be tricky, you have to roll the cuff gently as you are tracing. To make my life easier I flattened out one of my cuff blanks and can now use it as a template to trace around.....consider doing this if you can! The next step is to glue your cabochon onto the Lacy's Stiff Stuff in the middle of the traced bracelet. I use E-6000 and usually rough up the backside of my cabochon with sandpaper just to give it some extra texture for the glue to hold onto. Let this dry, overnight if you can or a few hours at least.

Now for the fun part....the beads!! Decide what beads you want to start with and pour some out onto your bead tray. Thread your needle with thread you have beeswaxed and tied a knot at the end. Bring your threaded needle up through the Lacy's Stiff Stuff right next to your cabochon. Pick up three seed beads and push them down the thread onto the Stiff Stuff. Holding them still with the thumb of your left hand, sew down thru the Stiff Stuff at the very end of the beads. Come back up thru the Stiff Stuff at the beginning of the beads, then pass your needle thru the beads again. Pick up three more beads. Slide them down the thread and onto the Stiff down at the end of them just like you did the first three. Now, come back up thru the Stiff Stuff FOUR beads back. This connects the first three to the second three. Pass your needle thru all four beads. Pick up three more beads.....and continue all the way around the beads. Continue making rounds around the cabochon, alternating bead colors or using just one color, creating patterns....however you are wanting your design to be. You can add more cabochons to your piece in different spots on the cuff....just glue them down next to a row of beads, let dry and begin beading again. Bead all the way to the edge of your traced line. Measure the beadwork against the bracelet blank to make sure your sizing is accurate. It needs to cover the blank, plus a tiny bit on the edges. If you are happy with the size, tie off your thread and cut it off or weave the tail of your thread back into your piece, which is what I do. Trim the excess Lacy's Stiff Stuff off the beadwork, staying close to the beadwork but making sure not to cut any threads.

The next step is to back your piece; I always use deerskin for this. Your piece of leather should be slightly longer and wider than your piece of beadwork....a 2 inch by 7 inch piece will be plenty large enough for this 1 inch cuff. Decide if you want the smooth side to face out (against the skin) or if you want the suede side facing out. (I use the smooth side; feels good against the skin) Don't worry about making the leather the exact shape and size of the bracelet yet. We'll do that later.

Now you are ready to go on to the blanks. First, unbend your blank a little. Not too much....just enough to make this next part easier. Slather the underside of it with glue. I recommend E-6000 glue; you can get it at any WalMart or Menards. Now, take your strip of leather (I'm just going to assume you are keeping the smooth side facing out) and press the suede side to the glued blank. Press gently but firmly and smooth it out as you go. Let it sit a few minutes. Now, slather the top of the blank with glue and press your beadwork onto the top of the leathered blank, pressing not only to the blank, but to the leather as well. See what you are doing here? Sandwiching the blank in between the beadwork and the leather. If excess glue smushes (nice technical term, huh?) out, just scrape it away with your fingernail. Let this dry well. I let mine sit overnight to be extra secure, but a couple hours may be enough. Just make sure that it is secure, not sliding around at all when you go on to the next part.
Which is......trimming the leather. I use a good pair of Fiskars scissors for my leather cutting and keep that pair JUST for leather. (I even wrote "leather" on the side of one of the blades with a sharpie so no one could mistake them, lol) Cut the excess leather off right at the edge of the beadwork. You want them to be the same size.

Now, you can do your edge beading. There are many kinds of edge beading that you can do; many people use a zipper edge, but I have found that a rolled edge works best for bracelets. They don't catch on stuff as easy, but it is your choice! If you want to do rolled edging, here it is:
Thread your needle with beeswaxed thread. Tie a TINY but secure knot in the end. Sew down through the Lacy's Stiff Stuff and the leather at the very edge of your piece. Pass your needle thru a few beads at the very edge of the beadwork to anchor the thread in the beadwork. Sew down through the Lacy's and the leather again and pick up three beads. Sewing from the top of the beadwork down, go thru the LSS and the leather again. Pick up three more beads. Sew down through the LSS and the leather again, close to the first three beads. See what we are doing here? Making a "roll" of beads? Continue in this manner all the way around the cuff. When you are done, don't tie off the thread; anchor it inside the beadwork itself by sewing through the beads of the design. Go around at least once, more if you can. Pull thread very tightly and snip off. This will pull the end into the beadwork and hide it.

VOILA! You now have a gorgeous piece of wearable art! (that you were able to create, DESPITE my instructions, LOL)
It is so much easier to SHOW someone how to do something than it is to TELL them, but If you have any questions at all please feel free to e-mail me. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have!