Introduction: Painted 'leather' Bracelets

About: (Educational) Designer, Researcher, and Developer

If I'd have to name one thing I can't get enough of, it's bracelets. Braided, knotted, folded, anything! But I hadn't tried painted bracelets yet. While on vacation in Italy/Germany, I saw a lot of really nice leather bracelets. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot . Among them were also a lot ofpainted ones. They had these really nice patterns and stuff on them, but I wanted to try to make them myself.

So, to make painted leather bracelets, the most important thing I'd need is leather I guess. However, I didn't want to order expensive leather just to hope this would turn out right. Luckily, I came across a spool of fake leather, and it worked out much better than I initially expected! Of course, you could also use real leather to make these ; ) I hope you'll like it!

Step 1: Materials

To make your own painted bracelet, you will need:

- flat (fake) leather

- acrylic paints in the right colours

- a small paint brush

- string

- two beads

- scissors

- a ruler

Step 2: Cutting the Leather

For this first step, it's helpful to know your wrist circumference. It's not necessary to know it exactly though, since you'll be closing the bracelet by tying two pieces of string. If you don't know it and don't feel like measuring it, I'd recommend using approximately 14 cm / 5,5 inch if you have a small wrist, but a google search for bracelet sizes doesn't really agree with me there. Here's a sizing chart you could use, but if you know your wrist size isn't really average I'd really advise you to measure it.

Once you've measured/ looked up your wrist size, subtract 0,5 - 1 cm / 0,2 - 0,4 inch to get the length of the piece of leather you'll need. Use your ruler to measure that length and cut off the leather as perpendicular to the sides of the leather as possible.

Step 3: The Design

Let's be honest here: I make these designs up as I go. But, since I'm showing you how to make a bracelet like this yourself, I felt like I still needed to add some kind of explanation regarding the designs.

Most importantly: choose a style. This is also quite helpful when it comes to choosing colours.

You can base the style on shapes, colours, keywords, anything you like. A great source of inspiration can be this site, just type in the style, shape or keyword you've decided to use and see what comes up!

The bracelets I painted are both based on triangles. The colours were chosen to give it a bit of a 'down to earth' look, in its turn inspired by ethnic designs, but turned out slightly different than I expected. I really love the colours I ended up with nonetheless ; )

You could draw your design before painting it, but I personally really like to just see where it ends up : )

Step 4: Combining Paint

The steps I took to get the different colours:


Simply used the paint straight out of the tube

Dark red:

Crimson red + brown , equal amounts

Old pink:

Grey + dark red + white , add dark red to grey until it's dark pink (bottom color in picture 4) , add white until the pink has the colour you want it to be.


Black + white , 75 % white, 25 % black

Step 5: The First Stripes

Start with the dark red. Take your paint brush and, almost sketching, paint a line in a +/- 45 degrees corner with the sides. Stop the line in the middle of your leather band. On the opposite side of the leather, paint a line like this as well. They will meet in the middle and create a right angle between them.

Reinforce the colour by tracing the lines a second time.

For the second set of lines, start a bit away from the first so it ends in the middle and leaves a bit of space between the two corners.

Keep repeating painting these pair of lines to finish the base of this design.

Step 6: Squares

Take the brown paint and paint small square in the middle of the lines, leaving space on the sides for your pink lines. They don't need to be perfect, just roughly following the pattern will work. For these squares, one layer will be enough.

Step 7: A Bit of Pink

Use the old pink to fill up the space between the dark red lines and the brown squares. It's no problem if you accidentally go a bit over the already painted parts, this colour dries lighter than the dark red or brown so it won't show up that much. One coat is enough, you could apply a second layer if you want to.

Step 8: Red Triangles

To fill up the emptiness a bit, paint small triangles of dark red paint in the triangle-shaped white spaces. Just like when painting the brown squares, leave space on the sides.

You can either leave the space between the triangles and the lines empty or use white paint to fill it up. For the bits where I messed the lines up a bit, I used two coats of white paint to cover it up ; )

Step 9: Make It Wearable I

Cut off a piece of string, approximately 30 cm / 11,8 inch should be enough.

Place the string on the end of your leather band as shown. The part that's past the band is about the same length as the part on the left. Let the part on the left loop around the leather while holding the side to prevent it from moving too much. Wrap the cord around the band, over the other part. Repeat this three or four times.

Step 10: Make It Wearable II

After wrapping the cord, turn to the back of your bracelet. Slip the end underneath the wrapped bit and hold it there. As you can see in the third picture, the other end of the cord moved a bit to the side. Carefully slide it past the side and to the back of the bracelet.

Pull both cords a bit tighter (carefully).

Step 11: Make It Wearable III

Tie both ends together, but make sure the long end stays on the end of the bracelet as shown. Basically all you need to do is pull the ends in the right direction ; )

To secure the cord a bit more, loop the short end underneath the wrapped part another time. After that, you can cut off the excess cord of the short part.

Repeat this on the other side before moving on to next step.

Step 12: Adding Beads

Add the beads to the long parts of the cord and secure them with a (triple) knot. Try to tie the knot at the length you want the strings to be, since after tying you can just cut off the excess cord and move on to next step.

Step 13: That's It!

Simply knot the two ends together to wear your finished bracelet! I personally like to make two simple knots on top of each other, that prevents the knots from untying.

They turned out a lot better than I expected them to, the paint is actually staying on really well! I'm really happy with the final result, I hope you liked this project as well! If you did I'd love to know : )

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