How to Create a Seed Bead Loop Clasp

May 28, 2008

Tips for Beaded Clasps

Beading Daily reader Penny S. wrote: "I have a problem with button and loop closures, particularly on bracelets. If the loop is large enough to go over the button, it slips off the button and the bracelet falls off. If it is tight enough to keep the bracelet from slipping, it's too small to go over the button."

Penny, I am currently feeling your pain! Just this weekend I designed a complicated bracelet inspired from a pattern in Diane Fitzgerald’s Zulu-Inspired Beadwork. My design includes a large bead (instead of a button) for the beaded clasp. I did a quick test run to make sure the seed bead loop fit snugly around the large bead so it wouldn't get loose. Eager to finish, I crazily reinforced the loop, secured the thread, and attempted to put the bracelet on. But alas! My crazy reinforcement made the loop become too tight for my bead. ARGH! How many years have I been beading? Cut, cut, cut. Cuss, cuss, cuss.

More measuring and re-measuring--keeping the "reinforcing factor" in mind--this go-around I added two seed beads from my previous count. The result is the most perfect beaded clasp I've ever made: the loop clicks onto the bead like a mechanical device!

I think beaded clasps are just like that. You need to finesse them into perfection. And, unlike me who can't sit still long enough to properly finish a project, it helps to take the time to test the connection several times before you crimp or knot it into place.

Making a Beaded Clasp

If you've never made a beaded clasp, it's easy to do. They are quite nice to use for off-loom designs, where a metal clasp might be a visual distraction. Beaded clasps are great-looking in a strung design, too, especially one that features a handmade or vintage button. They're also a thrifty alternative to commercial clasps—you can usually put one together with leftovers from your project. 

1. Add the anchor: When you've finished a project, string a shank button at the end of your piece. If the shank is very wide, string some size 15 seed beads before you add the button so the thread won't abrade as easily. You can also use a large bead as an anchor—just string the bead, 1-3 seed beads, and pass back through the bead to make a short fringe. Repeat the thread path as many times as possible to reinforce, secure the thread, and trim.

2. Add the loop: Use the tail thread at the other end of your piece to string enough seed beads to fit snugly over the bead or button. As I mentioned above, the key here is to perfectly determine the number of seed beads in the loop, so temporarily secure the thread and test the loop until it's right. Generally, you should string enough beads so that they fit tightly around the thickest portion of the button’s profile, then add 2-3 beads for wiggle room. For a bead anchor, do that same—string enough seed beads to fit tightly around the anchor bead, then add a couple for wiggle room.

More Tips

  • Only use beaded clasps for jewelry that will lay tight against the skin, as with necklaces that have some weight to them. If you plan on using one for a bracelet, keep in mind that the bracelet's length needs to be more cuff-like than bangly for the mechanics of the thing to work.

  • It's important to make the button lay flat, especially in a strung design. To do so, string enough seed beads to reach half the button's length before you actually string the button. This way, the button can tip over to one side, not impeded by larger beads.

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!



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Comments

on May 28, 2008 9:12 AM

An easy beaded clasp that I've been making for a while is putting two or more "fringes" with a semi-large bead at the end of each one through a relatively small loop.

I give full credit for the following name to the Minerva Beaders, found in their "Minerva Spirals."  They call it the "Two Fat Ladies" clasp.  One of the Minerva Beaders saw "two ample ladies negotiate a shop doorway."

The clasp works because each fringe can slip through the loop one at a time, but they cannot pull back through at the same time, making a very secure clasp.  I'm really happy to put a very descriptive name on one of my favorite closures.  Full credit for humor and the name to the Minerva Beaders!

RebeccaF@22 wrote
on May 28, 2008 10:21 AM

Occasionally my beaded loop fits over the big bead, but is somewhat snug. If you used Nymo or other nylon thread in the design, there is some stretch to it, so somethimes working to stretch the loop a few milimeters makes all the difference. You can't do this with Fireline, though.

on May 28, 2008 12:13 PM

In the free project library, the Nefertiti Bracelet by Helen Everett, Bead Hoarder's Collage Bracelet by Jeanette Shanigan, and Flower Burst Bracelet by Melinda Barta are a few examples of bracelets with button/bead clasps.

GingerH@5 wrote
on May 28, 2008 3:16 PM

My solution to sizing a bead loop closure is to use .5mm stretchy bead cord.  Cut a generous length of the stretchy bead cord and use a large eye needle to pull one end through the beads.  Then string your beads for the loop and thread the other end through your project.  Tie a knot and secure with glue.  If the beads are too small for the stretch cord (not a problem I have had so far, even with 11/0 seed beads), you can attach the stretchy cord "between" beads by securing around your beading threads.

Even if I don't use the stretch cord, I always start a new length of thread to do the clasp portion of the project.  That way you can easily cut the clasp and lengthen or shorten either end.

AlexI wrote
on May 28, 2008 6:26 PM

I've used the stretch cord too, but instead of tying it, I used it double and used a crimp bead on it.  

I also affixed the button or bead that the loop is going around on the top of the bracelet, rather than sort of hanging off the end.  The bracelet needs to be a bit longer this way, but it also makes a nice cuff look.  

Annie@122 wrote
on May 29, 2008 5:09 PM

I like the stretch cord, too, but not with the crimp bead. That is a suggestion I'll use the next time.

Another suggestion is to attach the button on top using a jumpring to the base, avoidng the fraying that sometimes happens with all the tugging and maneuvering to secure the loop over or off the button

DeborahD@37 wrote
on Nov 23, 2008 6:26 AM
Gosh darn! Clasp are going to be the ruination of me! LOL! I just did my first craft fair 3 weeks ago and had the best time ever! I've been beading for about a year and I make a peyote stitch bracelet with 8/0 seeds and 8/0 hex's that create a very pretty wave type pattern in the bracelet. Have to credit Bella Beads in Center Harbor NH for the inspiration. Anyway, being a new beader and it being a flat bracelet and all, I wanted the bracelet to lay flat and have an attractive yet inexpensive clasp on it. I tried the bead and loop clasp so many times it was ridiculous! So as any good beader would do, I said the heck with the clasp and just continued on making the bracelets! Well, about 2 dozen bracelets later, I had to find a great working clasp. I tried stretchy thread and it worked great. I sewed beautiful buttons on one end and did a loop with the stretchy cord at the other end, about two rows back of the end of the bracelet so as not to put too much tension on the end of the bracelet. They worked amazingly well. Alas, took a couple with me to different bead shops in the area and not one person I talked to told me that the stretch thread was a good idea. I was told that there was no longevity to the piece, it would stretch out too much, it would break, etc., etc. So.......... I went back to my good ole' Power Pro and I've been fighting with the clasp ever since! I feel that I have gotten the clasp thing down to a reasonably quick and efficient job but I have to say that the stretchy thread was so much easier! Sorry to go on and on but you can tell what my weakness is in beading! :) Is stretchy thread really a good component in jewelry making? What brand name of stretchy cord is the best quality to use? Why do bead shop owners hate stretchy thread? Thanks to all you stretchy cord users out there and I may just give it another shot . Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
smartrix53 wrote
on Nov 24, 2008 11:17 AM
I'm a rookie beader.It wasnt until this year that I learned any technique such as peyote or netting. I used to string ,put on a crimp, clasp and that'd be it for me. Now I started developing some projects in peyote and netting.I discovered the bead clasp by mistake. I was working recently on my first netting project. I decided to "ignore" the instructions about lenght ( on a vertical netting! ) and the finished bracelet turned out to be too short even for my 6 1/2" wrist so I had to come out with a way to give a little room for fitting my wrist. I strung about 10 seed beads and then strung one golden faux pearl 6 mm bead as anchor. Then on the other side I worked the loop on seed beads. I was working with Nymo so it's true it kind of gives a little and you can do a snug loop and it will give just enough to fit the anchor bead tightly. But thanks for the advice, to put 2-3 extra beads sounds so obvious but I never thought of it til now. Thanks for your column and for your wonderful advices.