Preventing Gaps In A Beaded Bracelet

 

When you use small beads in a bracelet, it’s quite easy to get your beads to lie right next to each other with no gaps revealing your beading string.  With larger beads, however,  it is more tricky to achieve that. And some handmade African beads present added challenges.

3mm recycled glass beads with metal spacers

 

3-4mm bauxite beads

 

 

2-3mm wide disc beads

 

The fancy recycled glass tube bead bracelets have a cetain simplicity and charm, perhaps the reason they are among our bestsellers.  They are unusual and yet very easy to make, if you can select the right combination of beads.

 

chunky 20-22mm tube beads

 

mixed tube bracelets

These are much larger beads ranging in length from 10 to 25 or even 30mm and sometimes in spite of my best efforts initial attemps do not yield the results I am looking for.  And the simple project I had in mind takes more thought and time to complete.

Why Problem Occurs:

I notice three reasons why the gaps occur:

  1. Shape of beads
  2. Length of some beads
  3. Length of the bracelet, and
  4. Size and Placement of bead holes
Shape of Beads

Usually the beads are slightly curved so they lie nicely next to each in a bracelet.  Sometimes, though you get a few beads even on the same strand which aren’t that shape. Instead of the usualy curve they are quite straight.

curved tube beads perfect for a bracelet

Solution:
  1. By far the simplest way out is change the offending bead(s),  if I have the right replacement (s), that is.  If, however, I have not suitable alternative tube beads(s) then:
  2. Add spacers – usually discs, or smaller beads such as seed beads. It will change the original design, but much better alternative to gaps in the bracelet. For the width of the tube beads, I find the disc spacers are more suitable.  You could of course try round beads in the right size too.
Length of the Beads/Bracelet Length

The shorter, 20-22mm curved beads work quite well especially in a short bracelet but in a longer piece the gapping is likely to occur even if all the beads are the right shape.  For the 7- inch bracelet below, not only is the bracelet longer, but I used longer 25-28mm tube beads too.

 

 

At 25-28mm long, using the tube beads without spacers would leave quite a few ugly gaps

 

Size and Placement of Bead Holes:

Uneven-sized and or off-centre holes can also cause your beads not to align properly in a bracelet. In first photo below, circled in red, is a bead hole which doesn’t quite sit in the centre of the bead.  And it is the reason that bead does not align with the blue disc bead next to it.   Middle photo shows a close-up of the offending hole.  I am using a 1mm wide beading cord and this hole is the largest at 3mm wide.  Not only is it bigger than all the others; it is also placed closer to the edge of the bead.

before I add disc spacers

 

the disc beads help to close the gaps

To get my beading cord in the centre in this case, I do two things:

  1. Use a piece of hollow beading tube
    1. Cut a tad shorter than length of the bead
    2. pass the elastic beading cord through it before threading that bead onto it.

the cause of the gap is the off-centre hole in one bead

 

off-centre hole in blue bead

 

plastic tube 2mm wide

There is still a small gap to one side which leads me onto the next step.

2. Get rid of the extra space and to force the elastic to stay in the centre.

    1. Fit in another piece of the tube next to the first  (holding the cord)
    2. Finally add a tad of beading glue as needed to prevent the tube and ‘filler’ from showing

The final result is much more pleasing to the eye.  True, I ended up with a different design but it’s preferable it to the alternative.