Stretch cords are lightweight, colorful, inexpensive, and are the lifeblood of bead construction. Jewelers often begin with experimenting with stretch cords before moving on to trying metal wires. For today’s blog, we are going to talk about how you can select the right type of stretch cord for your projects and how to make your projects last longer.
Types of Stretch Cord
Single strand cords
Single strand cords are the most common type of cord in the crafting world, and they’re popular mainly because they are cheap and easy to work with. This type of cord is somewhat soft and rubbery and is comprised only of a single strand throughout. You can purchase single strand cords in a variety of thicknesses.
The thickest ones are perfect for beadwork that involves the heaviest beads for outlandish designs. The downside is that they are harder to knot properly because of this; it would be a good idea to master how a surgeon’s knot works.
We also recommend that you use an industry-grade adhesive such as the E6000 to make sure that all your knots will stay in place. It is possible for knotting made on a single strand cord to come away with pressure, or just because the knot wasn’t good enough. As for the adhesive, a drop is sufficient – there is no need to overdo it as too much adhesive can ruin the look of a perfectly good bracelet or necklace.
Stretch floss is the better choice if you are working with smaller beads. The size of stretch floss is usually 0.5 mm to about 0.7 mm. What we love about stretch floss is its multi-strand construction. The elastic fibers are woven together to produce sufficient flexibility in the final material. Multi-strand cords also provide better memory in the cord.
This means that the cord can better remember its former shape, and the risk of the cord stretching out permanently and making the final product looser than it has to be is lessened.
The downside to stretch floss, however, is that after some time, the memory of the material gives out and the individual elastic fibers that comprise the cord begin to fray and give away, one by one. Surprisingly, price-wise, stretch floss is even cheaper than single-strand cords, so pick this cord if you want to purchase more cords for your inventory.
Polyester cords are naturally thicker than the two previous cords we discussed because it is made with an elastic core. Polyester cords are often used for hair accessories and you can use this one if you want to work with larger and heavier beads.
The only clear disadvantage of working with this type of cord is the fact that you need to hide the bulkier knots in the end. If this doesn’t bother you, or if you can balance the knots within your design, then go ahead and use this cord. Take note, however, that it is not a perfect cord either, and if you are thinking of long-lasting jewelry, you may want to shift to using metal wires instead.
Tips to Make Bracelet That Don’t Break
The biggest challenge when creating beadwork with elastic cords is the durability of the cords and how each type would hold up to the weight of the current design. The more beads you load onto a cord, the more weight it has to hold, and the higher the risk for premature breakage. By premature breakage, we refer to your creations suddenly pulling apart even before they have been worn.
If you are thinking about durability, the most important consideration here is the thickness of the cord. Preferably, you should work with the thickest cord that will fit into the beads that you have in mind. The thicker the cord, the more durable it is, and the more weight it can handle.
The elastic cord that you will be using should be able to fit into your beads even when they have been doubled over and you have already added a needle to the equation. We know that this can be challenging if you are buying all of your supplies online, so make sure that you compare your beads’ hole sizes with the size or thickness of the elastic cords that you are buying.
The average sizes of bead holes are 8 or 11, and for both sizes, you can easily use a 0.5 mm elastic cord. This cord size is also sufficient for projects that require the use of seed beads (the smallest beads around) The best type of needle for beaded constructions is a collapsible eye needle.
Many beading projects require 0.7 mm or 1 mm elastic cords, but if you feel that the beads that you have at home are much heavier, feel free to buy thicker ones. Also, it would be a good idea to buy different types of elastic cords so you can test which ones perform the best.
To ensure that you have enough space for knotting, leave three inches of space on either side of the cut elastic cord. You can always trim the excess off a bracelet or necklace, but you can’t add more cord when you come up short while performing the necessary knots to secure the beads and other accessories in your creation. We also recommend the use of bead stoppers to prevent your beads from slipping away. It is also a good idea to pre-stretch the cord before stringing any beads.
This is non-negotiable as you need to train the cord well before adding any weight to it. As for the types of beads that you can successfully string onto elastic cords, we give you free rein over this but do avoid any beads with metallic inner tubes as the metal will wear out the cord faster. We’re not saying that beads will cut or snip the tubes, but your cords may become worn down faster as a result.