Seed bead bracelets are wonderful things. They take various forms, but they all provide an earthy, unique compliment to any outfit. Whether you want to make seed bead bracelets for loved ones, sell them in a shop or just dress up your own jewelry wardrobe, it’s a fun craft that anyone can create and enjoy.
Ready to craft some beautiful jewelry and have a good time in the process? Read on for your crash course in all things seed bead!
What Are Seed Beads?
Many people, especially crafters, instinctively recognize seed beads: tiny objects with a hole in the middle, just big enough for a piece of thread to pass through. Seed beads are very small, usually 1-4 millimeters and made of a range of materials.
While the most common seed bead material is glass, beads have been made from a huge variety of materials historically, including:
- Actual seeds!
Seed beads have a long and storied past. Beads date to prehistoric times, when cavepeople made them and adorned outfits and bags and turned them into jewelry. The Vikings were great makers of beads, carving them from stone and distributing them throughout the trading world.
However, it was really the Venetians and Bohemians who took seed beads to the heights we recognize today. Their amazing glassworks were able to standardize bead shape, color and size, so that people could use them to make very delicate items with reliable dimensions.
When Europeans came to the North and South American continents, they brought glass beads with them and traded them with Native peoples. By the 1800s, these were a popular commodity in mule trains and became a mainstay in intricate Native American beadwork; consider the incredible piecework on garments and moccasins with which many Indigenous cultures adorn their clothing.
Although seed beads are usually very small, there is a larger version as well. These seed beads are more like 3-4 millimeters in size. Sometimes they are distributed among smaller beads on pieces of jewelry such as earrings or seed bead bracelets, and sometimes they are used alone for a chunkier effect.
Why Seed Beads?
So why would you want to use seed beads today? It’s a good question, given the range of modern jewelry-making techniques and the reduction in prices for many materials.
However, seed beads still possess a unique charm that you can’t replicate with any other material. Plus, their small size makes it easy to weave them into a range of designs, which is why they have such a reputation for making beautiful clothing and other items, such as candle holders, containers and even brooches.
One of the easiest projects with which to start, however, is a bracelet. Luckily, there are plenty of creative places to start.
Seed Bead Bracelet Tips
So you’re going to make some seed bead bracelets? Fun! Aside from planning in a little unbroken time to create your jewelry (2 to 3 hours to start), here are a few other tips.
Buy Seed Beads in Bulk
Seed beads are an excellent thing to buy in bulk if you plan to scale your projects at all. You can buy a large kit with 96 different colors or take a more low-road approach by just buying a color or two. Either way, get plenty.
Get Some Needles
You’ll also want some beading needles. While traditional needles do work, it’s harder to get the beads onto them because they’re straight and they widen toward the base. Curved beading needles are much more useful because you can scoop beads up with little trouble and slide them along easily.
Choose Between Stretch and Clasps
There are two basic approaches for making seed bead bracelets. You can either make them stretchy so that they slide over the wrist, or you can use a non-ductile material such as wire or fishing line that doesn’t have any give.
With the former, you can simply tie off the bracelet when it is long enough, and can even make it longer than needed to wrap around the wrist. Some seed bead bracelets (such as Idea No. 5, below) make use of necklace-length ropes of seed beads that you wrap around the wrist several times for a bohemian effect.
If you choose a non-stretchy cord, however, you’ll need to buy clasps.
Head to Etsy for Ideas
Want some good ideas for seed bead bracelets? Etsy is a great place to look because so many creators have already put up their ideas. Just make sure, if you’re going to sell your creations, that you only take inspiration and do not steal ideas that artists worked hard to invent.
Seed Bead Bracelet Ideas
All right, ready for some inspiration? Let’s take a look.
1. Adjustable Seed Bead Bracelets
One of the biggest complaints people have about seed bead bracelets – and bracelets in general – is that they’re either too small or too big. If they don’t have a clasp (so you roll them onto your wrist), they often end up being too big in order to fit over your hand.
If you clasp them around the wrist so that they fit, the clasp ends up being difficult to work with only one hand.
Adjustable seed bead bracelets are the answer. These charming options have a variety of features, including metallic cord, adjustability and pretty beads on the ends of the string.
2. Daisy Bracelet
Want a dainty piece that will dress up your wrist in an understated way? This daisy bracelet might do the trick. It’s the perfect addition to a cute summer outfit for young ones and old ones alike.
While you can stick with a classic white-petaled and yellow-centered flower, the sky is really the limit when it comes to design ideas. For instance, you might try a red flower with a white center and green in between for a Christmas look!
3. Chevron Patterned Bracelet
If you’re looking for a fun project to keep you busy on cold winter days, this chevron bracelet how-to video will do the trick. It features a full tutorial to help you make this beautiful bracelet, which has some dimension thanks to the thicker strip of woven beads. The classic chevron motif is perfect for a vintage outfit or a modern color-blocked dress.
4. Seed Bead Cuff
While we think of seed bead bracelets as dainty and thin, they can actually make great statement pieces – as in the case of this colorful, patterned seed bead cuff. Although you may need a few more ingredients to pull this one off, it will definitely impress gift recipients. If you’re the type who loves to take your wares to a popup shop, this is bound to prove a unique project as well.
5. Chunky Seed Bead Bracelet
Seed beads come in two standard sizes: teeny and chunky. If you guess those aren’t official names, you’re correct, but they do describe the two options pretty well. The larger size, it turns out, makes for a pretty good seed bead bracelet as well.
For example, these seed bead bracelets use chunky beads on necklace-length strands, which are meant to be wound around the wrist as many times as necessary to get a good fit.
6. Precious Stone Bracelet
This seed bead bracelet is composed of a range of lovely stones and rough-cut gems. Of all the bracelets in this roundup, this is the one that is closest to the designs and patterns of the old Viking beadmakers. It is quite expensive, however, so if you want to emulate this, you can opt for simple roughly shaped colored stones rather than semiprecious gems.
7. Multi-Strand Bracelet
One of the cutest ideas out there is this bright, multi-strand seed bead bracelet. If you make it yourself, you can pair any three colors that you like together, then add dangling charms and gems to your heart’s content.
Because the charms are the cutest of its features, spend some time looking for the ones that best represent you. Are you a beachy type, in which case the anchor in the example might work for you? Or are you into animals, foods, national landmarks? Whatever the case, this is a seed bead bracelet that really lets you express yourself.
8. Minimalist Metal Bracelet
Seed beads don’t have to stand on their own. In fact, they look lovely paired with metallic accents, such as in these metal seed bead bracelets. Note how well the metal chain sets off the beads of the same color.
These delicate Etsy items are fairly affordable considering the materials used, but you can make them even more affordable by crafting them yourself.
9. Bracelet Bangle Statement
You hardly need to wear another piece of jewelry when you rock this bracelet bangle, a multicolored statement piece composed of numerous seed bead strands.
While most seed bead bracelets are single-stranded, or have a few strands, this one combines dozens for a truly unique shape. One of the best parts of the project, too, is choosing so many colors!
10. Stretchy Stackable Bracelets
Another way to get around the difficulty of getting those seed bead bracelets onto your wrist is with stretch cord. These stackable metallic beauties are a perfect example, and you can get stretch cord or elastic string anywhere, like Amazon.
For the best effect, choose multiple colors that coordinate, such as in the example. If you end up opting for many different colors, try making sure that at least two of them are different shades in the same color family. This will lend a sense of continuity to the overall result.
Seed Bead Bracelet FAQs
Need a little TL;DR? Or did you read the post but want the takeaways? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about seed bead bracelets.
Q: Are seed beads hard to work with?
A: No, seed beads are not particularly hard to work with. They are a bit fiddly, though, which is why some people like to get curved needles or even bead spinners to make the job easier.
Q: Where can you get seed beads?
A: You can buy them on Amazon, Etsy or in craft shops such as Michaels.
Q: Is it cheaper to buy or make bracelets?
A: To a certain extent, this depends on your materials. If you buy semiprecious stones or real metals, you’re probably spending quite a bit more because you have to buy a certain amount of them, as opposed to what it costs for just one bracelet. When you make them yourself, however, you cut the surcharge that another creator tacks on.
Q: Are seed bead bracelets hard to make?
A: That depends on the complexity of the pattern you choose, but for the most part, no. If you’re a novice, start with a simple pattern so you can get a feel for working with beads, then progress to more difficult creations.
Seeds of Creativity
Whether you go highly detailed, such as a seed bead cuff, or make a simple one-strand affair, seed bead bracelets are always a fun, earthy way to dress up your outfits. With all of these beautiful projects for inspiration, hopefully a seed has been planted for you to go forward and create.