DIY Week: Bungee Cord Bracelet

Happy Tuesday! I am off work this week, so instead of outfit posts, I am bringing you some DIY/project ideas that even someone with my extremely low skill/craftitude level can accomplish. Yesterday I showed you how I brightened up some canvas slip-ons with fabric markers; today, I'm making a rope bracelet out of bungee cord.

I know, the Internet really needs more rope bracelet tutorials, right? But this one is a wee bit different than most of the ones I've seen out there, because the supplies list is extremely short. When it comes to crafts (or, kind of, anything), I'm not only lazy and impatient; I'm also cheap. I don't want to have to go buy 700 things to make one stupid bracelet. I don't own any epoxy glue and god only knows where the needle-nose pliers are. So I went looking for simple ideas.

I really like this simple braided bracelet from Sideoats & Scribbles, especially because it repurposes the string from a shopping bag for the rope! But I wanted something a little more substantial.

Then I found Love Meagan's tutorial for a braided rope bangle, and I decided to give that a try. I knew I needed something that didn't require any closures, and I thought I could alter her tutorial to make mine more close-fitting, and less of a bangle. But I ran into some trouble. Look, I'm totally sure that a normal human could follow her tutorial without any problems ... but in addition to being cheap, lazy and impatient, I also have serious issues when it comes to spatial visualization. You know when you have to take those aptitude tests in school, where they show you a flat layout and make you figure out how it would look in three dimensions? I totally bombed that test. My brain is just not good at translating 2-D into 3-D. So I got a few steps into Meagan's tutorial, got frustrated, and said, "Screw this, I'm winging it." Here's my version of this project.

I chose to work with bungee cord because I thought it would be easier to make a close-fitting bracelet if it had a bit of stretch to it. You could use this same technique with paracord, but be sure to choose a container that is large enough, like the can that Meagan uses in her tutorial.

The container I used was a large pill bottle. Whatever you choose for your container, make sure your length of cord can wrap around it at least 8 times to give you the desired length. I started with a length of cord about 50 inches long. This produced a tight-fitting bracelet (almost too tight), and I have pretty small wrists, so if I did it again, I would give myself a little more cord to play with.

Start out by tying one end of the cord into a loop knot. I made the loop really large to start with, and then adjusted it until the short end of the cord had almost disappeared into the knot. Then I worked it the other way to shorten up the loop. This is easier to do with bungee cord because of its flexibility; if you're working with paracord, you are probably better off sealing your knot with a dot of glue and trimming the short end down.

Lay the cord over your container with the loop hanging down. Bring the long end of the cord up through the loop, and back down again.

Wrap the long end of the cord around the first length, and continue looping it this way all the way around the bottle. Try to keep the spaces between the crossovers even. Your finished bracelet will be affected by how many loops you make here: You can make a looser bracelet with fewer loops, or a tighter/bulkier one with more loops.

When you get back to the knot, loop the free end around again and go back for a third pass. This time, your goal is to put the free end through the existing strands in a way that creates a new pattern. I know that sounds kind of vague, but it's a bit hard to explain.

Basically, if the existing strands cross over from right to left, you want your third strand to go from left to right. You're trying to create opposition to the existing pattern. Make sure as you do this that you keep the crossovers evenly spaced. If you don't adjust the strands as you go along, you'll get to the end and find a big stretch of straight strands with no more crossovers.

When you get back to the loop, wrap the free end around and now pick a strand to follow back through the pattern.

When you get to the knot end, loop the free end around and pick another strand to follow. Repeat this process with the third strand, until all three strands are doubled.

When you get to the end of the third strand, you should have only a very short length of cord left. If not, trim it down until it can reach just past the big knot.

Tie a small knot at the end of the free end of the cord. Stretch the cord tight until the end of the cord is nicely tucked inside the knot. Find a snug place near the big knot to tuck this small knot. If it doesn't seem to want to stay, you can add a dab of glue, but I was able to just wedge it in, and it feels like it will hold.

When you go to put your bracelet on, stretch out the large loop to fit it over your hand. This will help keep the woven strands positioned properly.

And, ta-da! A stretchy rope bracelet, no closures or tools required.

I am reasonably pleased with how this turned out — honestly, I like the symmetry of the original better, but I am just not clever/patient enough to figure out how to do it. So this is my slightly less elegant version. It took like 7 minutes to do, it was fun, and it was cheap (I think I paid $1.50 for 20 feet of bungee cord).

DIY week will, I hope, continue tomorrow as I attempt actual SEWING! Hang on to your hats ...


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