making bracelets – “waxing” on linen, cotton and chinese knotting cord

bracelets black cropped

As a craft store owner I hear “What’s this used for?” over and over in regards to the variety of bracelet making materials available. It can be somewhat overwhelming if you are just getting started.  So here in a nutshell, are my thoughts on waxed cotton cord, Irish waxed linen and Chinese knotting cord and some bracelets I’ve made using them.

1. Waxed Cotton Cord

I love this stuff!  We have it in 1mm and 2mm widths.  Its only real drawback is the limited color range and we only have it in brown and black.  Its tightly braided construction means it’s durable and the ends just barely fray with use. The very light wax coating wears off over time and becomes very soft. Then it feels like cotton.  It’s not as stiff as leather so it’s great for knotting and specifically sliding knot bracelets.

spacer bead bracelet

For this spacer bead sliding knot bracelet (also pictured second from left in first photo aboveI used: 

  • 1 yard 1mm waxed cotton cord
  • 24 heishi spacers
  • two 4mm round beads at ends

To start this bracelet, use about 12″ of waxed cotton cord and slide all but 2 of the spacer beads to the middle of your cord.  (You’ll use the extra two spacers and 4mm beads for the end knots.)  Tie a knot right against both ends of the spacers so the spacers are centered.  Next, you can tie your sliding knot.  If you haven’t tied a sliding knot before, here is a really good tutorial on how.

pearl single slide knot

Pearl and waxed cotton cord sliding knot bracelet (above).  I love this bracelet because the pearls remind me of the ocean. I wore this everyday, all day, for a week and the cut ends of the waxed cotton cord did not work their way out of the sliding knot and barely frayed on the ends. For this bracelet I used the 2mm waxed cotton cord and 7 pearls with large drilled holes, made exactly the same as the spacer bead bracelet above.

2. Waxed Irish Linen

Great for working with small hole beads.  We have it in a variety of pretty colors and in 2-ply (smaller) and 4-ply (larger) sizes.  Leather wrapped bracelets are very popular and the 2-ply is great for keeping the beads in place while you wrap them onto the outside leather cord.  Some people don’t like working with the waxed linen at first because of its stickiness, but the light wax coating eventually wears off.  If you don’t have a collapsible eye needle – get one!  It makes the process of stringing small hole beads much easier.  A dab of glue down on the cut ends of your knots will prevent fraying.

braided bracelets stacked

Here’s one of my blog posts “Easy Braided Bracelets…on the beach” using 4 ply waxed Irish linen.  This project is quick and easy and a great project for taking along on vacation.

triple wrap leather

For this leather triple wrapped bracelet I used:

  • 2 ply brown waxed Irish linen
  • 1.5 mm antique brown leather
  • one 12mm bead for the clasp
  • about 20″ of 4mm crystal cut beads
  • collapsible eye needle

This is my personal favorite bracelet to wear.  The only drawback is that I wear it so much, that the 2 ply waxed linen starts to wear down at the bead I use for the clasp, but it’s not too hard to replace it.

Here is a video link to a tutorial on making these leather wrapped bracelets.

rhinestone double wrap

Waxed Irish linen, leather and rhinestone chain bracelet (above).  These are really quick and add some color and bling to your bracelets.  Here’s the link to the blog “Honestly…WTF” and the post I used to make these bracelets.
luv-u-charmlet-final

Waxed Irish Linen Charmlets (above- I used 4 ply waxed Irish linen for these sliding knot bracelets.  They are very simple and plain, but look cute with a charm or little pendant added. The sliding knot is pretty sticky at first, but after some usage and wear the knot works great.  Here is a great link to how sliding knots are made from the blog “The Adorned Article.”  

2.  Chinese Knotting Cord

This is a nylon woven cord that is also easy to work with. It comes in bright colors, a variety of widths and the knots it creates are very even and clean.  The smaller sizes work great for the Shamballa Style bracelets (see below) You can use a cigarette lighter (I don’t smoke, so I have to admit buying a lighter for this project felt sort of strange) to seal the ends from fraying.  It doesn’t have the stiffness of leather so the knots are easier to make and stay in place well.

gold bead bracelet

For this metal bead bracelet (made similar to spacer bead sliding knot bracelet above) I used: 

  • .8mm black chinese knotting cord
  • fourteen 5mm beads with holes large enough for 2 strands of cord
  • a cigarette lighter to seal the ends

agate macrame

Shamballa Style Agate Bracelet (above-   Here’s a how-to video on making the Shamballa style bracelet above.

For this bracelet I used:

  • I.8 mm black chinese knotting cord
  • twelve 12mm cut agate beads
  • two 6mm beads for the ends

bracelets black cropped

Rhinestone Sliding Knot Bracelet  Here is a really cute bracelet using chinese knotting cord that is pictured second from the right.

I made this one straight from the blog  ”Honestly…WTF”.  Look for the DIY Rhinestone Sliding Knot Bracelet.

Here’s another way to use chinese knotting cord.

For this project above “Ice Resin Book Charms” , these obviously aren’t bracelets but it’s a good example of ways to use bracelet making materials in another way.  The article and photo above show how easy it is to melt the end of the cord so it doesn’t fray.

4. Leather

bracelet stack turq 100

I know leather wasn’t on this list, but it’s one of my favorite materials to work with and I would hate to leave it out if someone is unfamiliar with using it as a bracelet making material.  We keep in stock .5mm, 1mm, 1.5mm and 2mm wide leathers in distressed brown and black colors.  The distressed style of leather is always softer and has a richer, more weathered look to it which I love.  It’s also inexpensive, lightweight to wear and inexpensive.  Here are the materials I used on the “stacked leather bracelets” from the photo above.

believe-and-let-go finished

Here’s another leather wrapped bracelet I made using 1.5 mm distressed leather.  “Let go leather wrapped stamped bracelet”

finished bracelet

And finally, here are 3 more very easy knot bracelets from my blog that are great for beginners.  The two bracelets on the left are made using distressed leather and the turquoise bracelet used 2 mm waxed cotton.  Another great thing about these materials is that they can be used together and look great.

So there was my nutshell on waxed Irish Linen, waxed cotton, chinese knotting cord and distressed leather.  I hope this helps your understanding of bracelet making materials and your desire to make bracelets!

Comments

  1. LOVE the rhinestone chain bracelet. I would never wear a rhinestone chain bracelet by itself, but by adding the colored thread & cord it has a whole new life & texture.

  2. Katherine says:

    Hi, I am considering making some jewelry pieces with cording. I need an education however. Some cording is gauged in mm and some in ply. I know the diameter in mm, but how does ply relate to it? Also, I want to use multi strand cording to make some designs that has some body and drape. If I use small hole beads the cord is so thin it doesn’t read well. I understand the waxing gives it more body? If you could give me a quick 101 on this I would greatly appreciate it, or if you know a good site that can do so that would work too! Thanking you in advance for your reply! Kathy

    • Hi Kathy, Ply usually means how many cords are wrapped together to form one overall cord. Here is a site that gives the ply and the mm size of waxed linen. The linen coating on waxed linen does give it more body, but it will wear off with time and become softer.

      I don’t have a lot of experience with silk, but it sounds like silk cording is something you might want to research further. Silk has beautiful colors, sheen, drape and strength.

      Good luck with your jewelry pieces and I hope I helped a little bit!

  3. Katherine says:

    you are so very sweet, thank you for helping a stranger! :)

  4. I’m so glad I found you! This is so informative. I am re-stringing my mala beads – I will knot them individually. What is the best cord to use?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Katrina! I’m not sure exactly – I’ve never strung mala beads before. My hunch is to use Chinese knotting cord because it ties so easily – but be sure and check that the size of the cord will fit the size of the bead holes. Silk would be a really nice option too, and it comes in so many beautiful colors. Sorry I’m not more help. I Googled mala beads to find out more about them – and I love the little tassels. Hmmm…might be a blog idea there! :) k

      • Katrina Coreces says:

        That would be awesome! I love mala beads – I wear them daily and I use them for meditation. I will definitely try the Chinese or silk cord. Since I have to knot 108 beads plus two, the easier to handle the cord the better. Thanks so much for your help!

  5. Hiya! I’m hoping you can help — I want to make the bracelet in this section: “For this leather triple wrapped bracelet I used” (it has 2 strands of wider cord on the outside, small beads in the center of the wide cord, and waxed linen holding it all together)

    But the video link you posted goes to the wrong page… do you have a link to a tutorial for this type of bracelet? Thanks!

    • Hey Jenn – I’m sorry about that! I have a new tutorial that shows how to do this same technique. The only difference is that for the triple wrapped bracelet, you will just use 1 bead between the wider leather cords on the outside. I hope that helps…now I need to fix that broken link! :/ karen

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