Last December I found a pattern for a Beaded Elastic Caterpillar Bracelet on 3dbeading.com that I wanted to try. A few months later I couldn’t find the site again, but was able to find the Wayback Machine archive of it. The embellishments over the larger beads reminded me of the Hugs and Kisses Beaded Bracelet by Beadifulnights on YouTube.
Since I didn’t have all the beads that the pattern called for, I needed to modify the design so that it would work with the beads that I have. When I first saw the bracelet, I immediately knew I wanted to use the 8mm blue fiber optic (a.k.a. cat’s eye) beads that I had. I feel strange about using plastic pearls with glass beads—I definitely wouldn’t combine them with Swarovski crystal—but how else could you get consistently shaped 2mm or 3mm pearls? Since I was modifying the pattern, I did a short test segment to see if the beads would fit together snugly. To my surprise, the plastic pearls actually looked quite nice when strung in the design.
Since I didn’t want to use plastic pearls at first, I thought I didn’t have any 3mm round beads in a color that would match the rest of the bracelet. I found some 3mm clear fire-polished beads that someone had given me years ago. I tested them to see where they would fit best. That’s why instead of having two 3mm pearls along the edges between the 8mm beads, I have a 3mm fire-polished bead flanked by two size 11 seed beads.
I was concerned that the lack of additional colors would make the bracelet look boring, but I’d say it’s elegant.
I tested other bead combinations, too. I wanted to see if a 4mm bicone crystal would work. That way, there’ll be some of the aqua color that I love. Unfortunately, the size and shape made it not fit right. I’m sure I could have eventually gotten it to work with different sized beads, but didn’t feel like experimenting more.
When using 4mm bicones, the “hugs and kisses” didn’t fit snugly against the 8mm beads. Notice the gaps.
The original pattern called for elastic, but I don’t like using elastic cord for two reasons. One is it’s hard to tie small knots that will stay put. The material is slippery and the knots will come undone on their own. Although a surgeon’s knot will stay together, it’s bigger and bulkier than I would like for this bracelet. The second reason is that over time, elastic cord will weaken and break. Instead, I used transite thread because it’s clear. (From what I’ve read, transite a.k.a. monofilament, will eventually weaken and break over time as well, but not as quickly as elastic.) I preferred to assemble the bracelet by going back and forth along the whole length of it three times, like the method shown in Beadifulnight’s video.
Since I was foregoing the elastic, I would need to use a clasp and was left on my own to figure out how to make a loop to attach the clasp to. At first, I didn’t want to put a fake pearl in the loop because I was concerned the finish would chip off over time—the clasp area is subject to a lot of wear, with jump rings constantly moving around. However, I discovered that having a size 11 seed bead instead of a 2mm pearl made the six other beads not fit well along the 8mm bead at the end, so I had to take it apart and start over.
Not only was the spacing too tight but the loop liked to fold backwards, so I had to redo it with a larger bead.
I originally used a toggle clasp since I thought it looked nicer with this style of bracelet, but that made it a bit challenging to put on and take off, so I replaced it with a magnetic clasp. I’ve noticed the rest of the bracelet weighs more than the clasp, so it likes to rotate so that the clasp faces up while I’m wearing it. It’s not a big deal to me, but I don’t know if other people will care.
It took me about five hours in all to complete this, not including the time spent testing possible beads. I think I could get my next one done in two hours if everything goes smoothly. One disadvantage of assembling it the whole length across as opposed to in repeating units is that it’ll take more work to modify the sizing. Adding the 2mm pearl in between the beads along the edges made the bracelet longer than it had been right after I added the last 8mm bead, so I had to go back and remove it. (I know some people wouldn’t care, but I’m sick of wearing bracelets that end up halfway up my forearm and threaten to slip off my hand.) I probably spent a whole hour tying knots because I had a hard time getting the thread to fit a third time through the beads. If I were to ever make this again, I would use FireLine because it’s thinner than 8lb transite.
Here’s how it looks on my 6 inch wrist. Not so good against my swim tan. (No, I am not skinny. I just have small wrists and bony hands. My thighs are a different story…. 😛 )
I wrote more this time, including a few of the challenges that I faced throughout this project, in hopes that people who don’t make jewelry will get a better understanding of the process (and quit telling me “it doesn’t have to be perfect”).