There are times I survey my craft supplies and smile fondly.
"Ah yes, these are left over from this T-shirt I decorated."
"Fantastic! These are for that one thing I want to do (and need to sit down and actually make)."
"This was such a great gift from her! I'm so glad she gave this to me!"
Then there are times when I look at something, furrow my brow, scratch my head, and declare, "What was I thinking? Was I high?"
I know I wasn't (hugs not drugs, kids!) but I have no idea what genius idea was brewing in my head when I bought some of this stuff. I can only blame the shine of the glitter and the promise of DIY glory throwing me into a blinding haze of purchasing madness. This is a great example:
Stretchy cord. To make stretchy bracelets I guess? What else can you use it for? There is the possibility that this one was a gift or remnant of someone else's stash (offer me free craft supplies and my inner magpie loses it in glorious Technicolor). Whatever the reason, I found it in a drawer and became obsessed with using it. Lucky me, inspiration came in a flash. Now was my chance to make a version of a Victorian slide bracelet!
When it comes to shiny things, it's hard to beat one of these bracelets, made up of a selection of gems set into precious metals and then spaced with gilded beads. The first time I saw one, the little magpie that lives in my soul flapped its wings and assured me that everything I ever wanted in life would be mine if only I bought that bracelet. My wallet reminded me (in none too gentle terms) that I work for the state in the arts and would be wiser using that money on decidedly duller things, like food and rent. No shiny things for my nest that day.
But now: I knew I had an assortment of buttons. Not just any buttons, either. Old buttons! New buttons! Buttons with gold and silver and mother of pearl! Fake pearls and fake cameos! I knew I could finally make a faux Victorian slide and I know you can, too! All you need is a roll of stretchy cord, an assortment of buttons, and small glass or plastic beads that can fit under your buttons but won't slip through the shank (seed beads aren't really ideal for this). The best news is the whole project really only takes about an hour, including sorting and choosing buttons!
Start by sorting through your buttons for ones that fit the aesthetic you are looking for and, preferably, have a shank on the back (you know, the loop you use to sew it on instead of going through drilled-in holes). My assortment of course leans toward Victorian (in a loose sense):
For my personal ideal, I preferred ones with a shank that has a vertical alignment (like this heart):
Instead of a horizontal alignment (like this heart):
You want all your buttons to stay neatly and flatly next to each other with the same top to bottom alignment. For something like a flower, it doesn't matter. For a heart or a cameo, it certainly matters to me. The next step of course is to start lining them up in a pleasing arrangement. There's no rule of thumb for this; it's all about what you like. Don't forget considering how the first and last button in your line-up are going to look together!
You want to make sure you have enough buttons to loop around your wrist. However, because it's on stretch cord and these very clearly have a right and a wrong side, you're going to want to keep it on the tight side of fitting so the buttons aren't constantly rolling over.
Once you have what you think are enough buttons and they are arranged in a way that makes your heart sing, unspool a nice length of cord. In my experience, it's better to avoid cutting it until you know your final measurements. It's awful to have cut it too short or too long. Either way, you end up wasting a good span of supplies for no reason since you only need to work from one end. Here comes a chance to learn from me: you will need small beads to "line" the bottom of the buttons. When I first thought of this idea (with the crazed excitement that comes over me at two in the morning), the idea crossed my mind, but I decided that all the shanks would be close enough in size and the bracelet would be tight enough that it would just magically stay flat and perfect on my wrist. Attempt number one eradicated all illusions of magic and reminded me about fun things like basic laws of physics. As I mentioned, the beads should be big enough that they don't go through the shank. I used a variety of colors that coordinated with the buttons they were lining, but all one color would work just as well.
Time to thread the buttons and beads. The cord is thick enough that you don't really need a needle:
You can certainly use one though if you think it would make it easier (particularly when it comes to the beads, although that didn't present a challenge for me). Just make sure your needle is thin enough to slip through the hole of the bead.
Thread on enough beads to back the first half of the button, run the thread through the shank, and add a coordinating number of beads to cover the other half. Start again with the next set of beads. Some buttons only took one or two beads, while the bigger ones could take up to five. You'll just need to eyeball as you go. Continue in this pattern, being conscious of the design on the front of the button. If some have a very obvious design with a top and bottom (such as a cameo), you'll probably want to make sure the other buttons with an obvious top are thread on with the same orientation (no upside down hearts here). In the end, you'll have something like this:
I highly recommend taking a picture of it at this point. Why? Oh, just in case you do something tragic, like drop the whole thing! It would be nice to not have to think through the layout again. After taking a picture (or throwing caution to the wind), carefully wrap the whole thing around your wrist. You want to make sure it's going to fit the way you want. This is your last chance to add or remove buttons and beads to get that perfect fit. Once you are pleased, cut the cord, making sure you have a decent tail at both ends so you can tie a double knot (this is the moment I dropped the whole thing, in case you were wondering). A small drop of super glue on that knot wouldn't be a bad idea. Trim the tails down and slide the buttons and beads over the knot and tail and wear with flair!
"But Virginia," you might be saying, "no offense, but that is an awful picture! What happened?" Well, I tried to take the picture of my dominant hand with my non-dominant hand. It looked just fine on the tiny camera screen, so I went on with my life, never knowing that it was a blurry train wreck that no amount of sharpening could salvage, though I tried. Look how I tried! Now of course, once I learned just how awful the picture looked on the big screen, I would have taken another picture EXCEPT tragedy visited my bracelet for the final time. When I'd completed the bracelet, I was at work and didn't have any glue. As soon as I got home, I went in search. I applied a dab and, just to be sure, gave a final tug on the tail ends to ensure the knot was tight and coated. As the string snapped and I was encircled in a tiny explosion of beads and buttons, I realized two things: I don't know my own strength and I'm never going to hear the end of it from that magpie.
Please let me know if you try this craft! Comment here with a link or tag me on Instagram or Twitter! If you tackle it as part of Just Stash January like I did, tag it with #juststashjanuary and I'll be sure to find you! In the mean time, I'm really open to suggestions of other crafts I can make with this elastic cord. I'd also adore feeling better about myself by hearing about your craft fails and obsessions in the comments below.