Gypsy Style Adjustable Wire Bracelet (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
This adjustable wire bracelet project involves a strip of fabric from an old T-shirt, plus seed beads and a charm to dangle.
It’s fun to come up with contrasting / coordinating colors for the fabric strip and seed beads!
This bangle also has a simple adjustability feature, made with looped ends sliding over the wire – allowing the bracelet to expand and contract:
The looped wire ends easily slide together to make the bracelet larger (for sliding the bracelet on over your hand when putting it on).
Or, to make the bracelet smaller, you can gently squeeze the sides of the bracelet, making the wire loops slide farther apart.
- Wire for the bracelet frame:You’ll need a piece of wire that’s your wrist measurement plus 4.5″ (114mm).
Example: If you have a 7″ wrist, you’ll need a piece of wire that’s 11.5″.
Choose one of these two wire types:
- 16-gauge round half-hard copper wire. You’ll need half-hard wire so the adjustable clasp will work smoothly on this bracelet. Half-hard wire springs back nicely instead of bending or crumpling like soft wire.
- Alternative: You may want to use Memory wire for the bracelet frame in this project. (If so, be sure to use wire cutters and pliers that are made for Memory wire, so you won’t ruin your regular jewelry tools.)
I used 16 gauge round half-hard copper wire for my bracelet frame.
- A strip of fabric – cut from an old T-shirt.
Also, many readers reminded me that sari silk or ribbons or fabric scraps could also be used for this project! Thank you for suggesting those!
The width of the fabric strip should be about 1.5″ (38mm).
The total fabric length should be about 4x your wrist measurement.
Example: If you have a 7 inch wrist, the total length of your fabric strip(s) should be about 28″ long.
You may need to use more than one strip of fabric to equal your total length.
Also, if you’re using ribbons or fabric less than 1.5″ wide, you’ll probably need more total length than my recommendation above.
- 20-gauge Artistic wire or craft wire:
You’ll need a piece that’s about the length of your wrist measurement plus 15″ (381mm).
Example: If you have a 7 inch wrist, your Artistic wire should be about 22″ long.
I used “gunmetal” color Artistic wire.
- Seed beads – Size 5/0 (or any size that will fit onto your 20 gauge Artistic wire), in colors that work well against your fabric.
You’ll need enough beads to string several inches of them onto your Artistic wire.
- A charm – to hang on your bracelet.
- A large jump ring – to attach your charm to the bracelet.
(My jump ring is 10mm size.)
- Wire cutter.
- Round nose pliers.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Chain nose pliers.
- Scissors – for cutting your fabric strip.
- A Sharpie marker (or other marker) – for marking your wire and pliers.
- 8-ounce tomato sauce can – or other round sturdy object with a diameter of about 2.75″ (70mm), to use as a mandrel.
Note: If you’re using Memory wire, you can skip the mandrel.
How to Make a Gypsy Style
Adjustable Wire Bracelet:
First, let’s mark your pliers, so you can make uniformly-sized loops at the ends of your bracelet when we get to that step.
(You can easily remove the mark from your pliers later, using a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a scrap of paper towel.)
Use your Sharpie marker to draw a mark about halfway down one jaw of your round nose pliers:
Now cut a piece of your 16-gauge half-hard wire or Memory wire.
Your wire length should be the measurement of your wrist plus 4.5″ (114mm).
Then use your Sharpie marker to draw a mark 2.25″ (57mm) from each end of your wire.
Now your wire should look like this:
Use a cup bur, jewelry file, or knife-sharpening stone to smooth and round both ends of your wire:
Note: If you’re using Memory wire for your bracelet frame, you can skip this tomato sauce mandrel step.
Now get out your tomato sauce can (or other mandrel), and wrap your wire around it to shape the wire into a smooth circle.
Make sure you wrap the wire ends as far as they’ll go around the can; the ends of the wire should pass each other:
Tip: If your wire keeps springing back into a larger size than the can, wrap the wire around a smaller can or bottle, so that it springs back to the size of the tomato sauce can.
Now your wire should look like this, with your wire ends extending past the Sharpie marks on your wire:
It’s time to turn the wire ends into the sliding adjustable clasp.
Now we’ll use your round nose pliers to make a hook shape at each end of your wire.
Form each hook around the spot where you marked your plier jaws with a Sharpie:
Your wire should look like this:
Spread the wire ends slightly apart from each other, so that one wire end hovers a little bit above the other:
Now we’ll use flat nose pliers to bend the upper hook downward, and the lower hook upward:
Your wire should look like this:
Hook the upper hook around the lower wire, and the lower hook around the upper wire:
. . . and then use your round nose pliers to close the hooks into loops.
Now the sliding adjustable clasp feature is finished:
Next, we’ll start wrapping the fabric strip, the beads, and the Artistic wire around the bracelet.
We’ll wrap the entire bracelet, except for the area between the Sharpie marks on our wire (indicated by the blue arrows), where we made the adjustable clasp:
Cut your strip of fabric from an old T-shirt (or other source; see the supply list above for fabric recommendations and length):
Now cut a piece of your Artistic wire.
Your wire length should be the measurement of your wrist plus 15″ (381mm).
Use your round nose pliers to make a loop at one end of your piece of Artistic wire; this loop will prevent the seed beads from running off the wire while you’re wrapping it around the bracelet.
Now string seed beads onto your Artistic wire.
The length of beads on the wire should be your wrist measurement plus an inch or two:
Start by wrapping one end of your fabric strip around one side of your bracelet, with the edge of the fabric on the Sharpie mark you made on the wire:
We’ll anchor this fabric end in place by wrapping the non-looped end of the Artistic wire around the fabric on the bracelet.
So lay about 4 inches of the non-looped Artistic wire end across the bracelet, over the fabric wrap you just made.
Hold the Artistic wire, the wrapped fabric, and the bracelet all firmly together in the jaws of your flat nose pliers:
Keep your flat nose pliers firmly in place where they’re holding the wire, fabric, and bracelet together.
Use the fingers of your other hand to wrap the 4″ Artistic wire end tightly several times around the end of your fabric that’s wrapped around the bracelet:
Use your chain nose pliers to squeeze the wrapped Artistic wire end tightly against the fabric, right next to the last wire wrap you made.
Now you can remove your flat nose pliers from your bracelet.
Your project should look something like the photo below.
I find it easier to keep the fabric strip rolled up as I wrap everything around the bracelet, so it doesn’t get tangled up with everything else:
Now continue wrapping the fabric tightly around the bracelet.
After every few fabric wraps, make one wrap of the Artistic wire and beads tightly around the fabric wraps.
I like wrapping it so that you can see the Artistic wire as well as the beads:
If you’re using more than one strip of fabric:
Wrap the end of your first fabric strip tightly around the bracelet; then wrap the beginning of the second fabric strip tightly over it.
Then make sure you have at least one tight wire wrap over the place where the two strips join.
Continue wrapping the fabric tightly around the bracelet until you reach the other Sharpie mark on the bracelet.
Continue wrapping the Artistic wire and beads tightly around the fabric wraps, stopping just above the last fabric wrap:
Use scissors to cut off the excess fabric strip.
Use a wire cutter to cut off the loop you made in the end of the Artistic wire.
Remove the unused beads from the Artistic wire:
Wrap the remaining Artistic wire tightly several times around the last fabric wrap (similar to how you wrapped the first end of the Artistic wire around the first fabric wrap):
Clip off the excess wire, and use your chain nose pliers to squeeze the Artistic wire end tightly against the fabric, right next to the last wire wrap you made.
Now it’s time to attach your charm to the bracelet.
Use your flat nose and chain nose pliers to twist open your jump ring.
String your charm onto the jump ring:
Place the jump ring over the bracelet.
Use your flat nose and chain nose pliers to twist the jump ring shut:
Your gypsy style adjustable wire bracelet is finished!
It may look something like this:
And the adjustable clasp should look something like this: