In today’s blog, we are going to explore a type of leather cord bracelet that is exceedingly beautiful because of its visual complexity: the braided leather cord. You can do this with flat leather cords, just not the round leather cord. Round leather cord can be used as tough cores for square knot bracelets, but for this project, you are going to need a flat cut leather cord. You can combine this technique with other techniques to create etched leather bracelets or beaded bracelets. There are a lot of things you can do with flat cords because there’s a lot of space, and you can sew additional decorative elements onto the leather cord for the best effect.
Simple braided bracelet
For this project, you have two options. You can either purchase what is called a leather bracelet blank or you can purchase a full stock of flat leather cord and work with that. Either way, it’s going to work because you can always attach fasteners to either end of the flat leather cord, so you can close the bracelet after.
Obviously, it’s going to be a little easier with a leather bracelet blank because it already has a fastener. On the downside, it might be a little more difficult to fit the finished product after if you have a larger wrist. So just use your best judgment in this case when selecting which type of material to use.
Assuming that you purchased a bracelet blank, here’s what you should do. Cut and slice exactly two slits across the leather bracelet blank. Make sure that the slits are equidistant from each other and the edges of the leather bracelet blank, so you can have even braids later on. This is exceedingly important: if you don’t cut the slits evenly, the resulting cords which you will be braiding will not look as attractive as we would have hoped for.
After slicing the flat leather cord up to the end (leave only a few millimeters for the fastening mechanism if you are using a blank cord and not a bracelet blank), begin weaving the three resulting strands over one another.
Put one strand over the other repeatedly, until you notice that the opposite end is beginning to twist. The twisting is normal, don’t worry about it. If you see twisting, that simply means that your braiding is correct.
Continue braiding until you reach the midpoint of the bracelet and pay attention to the other end of the bracelet. Loop the opposite end of the bracelet onto the slits until you can undo the knots. Continue doing this until you see everything has finally straightened out. Then you can continue with the braiding until you reach the end of the bracelet blank.
Preparing the bracelet blank is of the utmost importance when you are engaged in a project like this. Two things come to mind immediately when we are instructing beginners who may have never worked with leather bracelets before.
The first one is the cutting tool, and the second is how they are going to keep the line from becoming uneven as they cut through the leather. There are several kinds of tools that you can use to effectively cut leather. The most popular and convenient one is the leather rotary cutter.
This handheld cutter has a rotating blade and a large grip, which you can use to make really even cuts. On the downside, it’s pricier, so if you are not going to be trying a lot of leather craft, it might not be the best option for you. Some people use plain box cutters for leather, but they get mixed results.
Often, box cutters have really thin blades that are simply not designed to handle the toughness of leather. Genuine leather is harder to cut than paper or plastic, and it might require a lot more muscle to cut properly if your blade isn’t sharp enough. The third option is heavy-duty scissors.
Are heavy duty scissors a good option for this project? Not really. Large scissors may not fit correctly into the slits and may cause some ugly marks along the edges of the thinner cords. We do recommend heavy-duty scissors however, for larger leather projects.
The fourth option, which might work for you even if you are just a beginner, is to use an X-acto knife or equivalent. Basically, X-acto knives or carving knives are used for wood and other similar materials. But they are forged very well, and they’re sharp as can be. They can easily be used as an alternative to a box cutter. You can also switchblades, and use a blade that is thicker and more capable of cutting through the length of the leather cord you have at your disposal.
Once you have solved the issue with the cutter, you can focus on how to maintain the cut so it will be as straight as possible. What we’d like to do when creating bracelets like this one is to use a metal ruler to create an even line. So what you need to do is to measure the width of the bracelet first, then divide that number by three.
The quotient will be the measurement of the three strands that will emerge when you make two even slits. Use the quotient to mark where the two slits will begin on one end of the bracelet blank. Once you have marked them down, simply position your metal ruler and proceed with the cutting.
When cutting the leather, apply equal pressure throughout. You can mark the leather first if you want, and then go back to the beginning to start pressing on the material. Again, it really depends on how you work and what is more comfortable with you.