Step 1 - Materials
You will need:
* Tin/Copper Thread (I generally use the 0.40 thickness)
* Synthetic Sinew
* Nylon Thread
* Hobby Glue that dries clear
* Sewing supplies such as needles, a measuring tape, cutting mat, quilt ruler and rotary cutter if you have, scissors.
All the supplies you need can be found at TNKreativt which is where I shop, they ship all over the world and their costumer service is great =)
Step 2 - Making the 4-Strand Braid
You can of course make any braid you want here, I'm going to show you how to do a simple 4 strand braid with double skin inlays. How much skin and tin thread you'll need depends on how long braid you want to make and your braiding technique, but for a normal bracelet (2) ca 24" long tin threads and 2 12" long and 1/8" wide skin "threads" is usually more then enough. You can buy the skin already cut if you don't have a cutting mat as I don't recommend trying to cut them with scissors, they never come out even enough to look good.
Fold the long tin threads in half and attach them to your braiding surface with for example pins on cardboard, or like me with a safety pin in a couch pillow ;) I've colored the strand we're moving pink to make it easier to follow.
I've started a bit down in the braid as it does look a little confusing in the beginning.
Start with the every other strand double tin threads and every other one leather. It's a very simple over under weave to do a four strand braid. Just be careful to keep your double strands flat and never crossing each other throughout.
1. Start with the left strand.
2. Lift it over the closest set of tin threads.
3. Move it under the leather strip.
4. Finally lift it over the last set of tin threads. Tighten and continue from step 1 with the double tin threads which now will be furthest to the left: over - under - over.
If you're having issues getting the braid equally tight all over, try stopping at this step and tightening it before continuing.
Step 3 - Preparing to Attach the Braid
Synthetic sinew is quite thick when you buy it and will never fit through a regular sewing needle. Therefor you need to separate it into smaller sections like you would have to do with embroidery floss. This can be a bit tricky but depending on the thread it will quite naturally separate in to 3-4 strands.
Cut your leather piece for attaching the braid, myself I wanted quite a bit of leather on both sides of the thread for this so I cut mine 1 1/4" wide. You can of course make it thinner and more elegant, then double the width of your braid and add a generous 1/8" extra and use that width. I use a rotary cutter and quilt ruler for this to get nice, even edges. Cut it the same length as the wrist circumference of the future wearer. Don't cut it shorter as then it will be very tight.
Roughly ½" from the edge on both sides, make a little cut in the center of the strip just big enough to press the braid through. Don't make it too big, it's better to have to enlarge it. As a beginner it might be easier in the following steps if you maybe even move the cut 3/4" in from the edge as it will give you more room for knots in later steps.
Tie off both of the ends of your braid and cut it just 1/8 of an inch or so shorter then the leather.
Step 4 - Gluing the Braid to the Backing
We're ready to attach the braid. Insert the ends of the braid into the cut openings from the right side. Hold the leather like in the picture and dab a little glue on the back side of the braid.
Straighten it out and press the braid down onto the leather, wipe away any excess glue with a moist cloth. Make sure none of your knots are visible at the front of the bracelet, leave to dry for as long as the glue states it takes to dry.
Step 5 - Attaching the Button
Choose a pretty button that fits your bracelet, I usually prefer antler buttons for their traditional looks but I've tried everything from plastic to pearls, just play with it, there's no right or wrong, it just have to be able to hold the loop.
Thread your needle with 1/4 of a synthetic sinew strand from the ones we separated before. You might want to use a special leather needle if you have one but it's not necessary if you just have a good quality needle and a thimble.
In one of the tin threads on the back, insert your needle and pull the thread through and tie the end of your thread to that with at least a good double knot. Leave about 2 or so inches in the end thread as we'll use it later.
Then bring up your needle just to the right side of your braid. Add your selected button and stick it down again just to the left of the braid. The reason we're doing it around the braid is because this way we help attach the braid to the skin to prevent it from moving and button is attached to somthing more sturdy then just the skin and as otherwise the button might rip through the skin after a bit of wear. Repeat three or so times until it's well in place, try to use the same holes in the leather.
Then pull up your thread to the side of the button underneath it, and wrap the thread around the button about three times before sticking it back down to the backside of the braid, still in the same holes if possible.
Then you tighten it all and tie your thread together with the end of the one you tied to the tin with at least a good double knot.
Step 6 - Making and Attaching the Button Loop
Now we'll make the little closing loop from a leather thong. Cut a 1/8" wide and ca 4" long piece of leather.
Clip it open (I do this with my finest scissors as it's to thin to use the rotary cutter and it doesn't ahve to be perfectly even) almost all the way through but leave a little uncut. Then wet it thoroughly with regular water. Take the clipped ends and twirl them in different directions between your fingers. It is usually easiest if you ask someone to help you.
When it's twirled up really tight, grab the uncut piece, bring the two twirled ends together and it'll roll up to a little thong. Tie it off properly like I've done in the picture with a strand of synthetic sinew and make sure the loop is big enough to go around the button and has a little extra too.
Take the little loop and cut off the excess ends about 1/4" below the knot then tie one of the ends through the tin in the braid like we did with the button (this will make sure you can't pull out the loop later). Tie the loop up tightly and thoroughly around the braid, tie off.
Step 7 - Sewing the Braid to the Backing
Just gluing the braid in place will not last you very long so now we'll properly attach the braid,. The glue is mainly there so you can manhandle the braid a bit when sewing it down withouth risking it ending up off center.
Take a fairly long piece (about three times the length of your bracelet) of nylon thread. Tie one end to your needle (as otherwise you'll be retreading it all the time, it's a slippery bugger ^^) and the other end to a piece of tin like with the button.
Stick up your needle where you see the nylon thread coming up in the picture and then stick down the needle in the way show in the photo. Do it at an angle in under the braid, not next to it as then the holes from the needle will show. I've drawn little black lines where I sewed mine in place. The reason I did it there was so I could nestle the thread in under the skin inlays (or if I didn't have skin inlays, in between the tin threads) to make it invisible. I do one side first and then come back up the other side.
When you've come back up, tie the threads together with the one you first tied with the tin with a bunch of knots to make sure they won't unravel. Hopefully it'll be visible in this photo.
Step 8 - Closing up the Bracelet
Now we're going to sew up the bracelet to finish!
Again, thread your needle with synthetic sinew. Tie one end to a piece of tin (yep, lot's of knots there by now) and then stick up your needle from the back to the front in one corner of the braid.
Next bring it over to the other side, this will look a bit off but tighten them so the edges come together and poke a bit at the first corner to make it come up.
Then dab a little glue on all your knots so they'll for sure stay in place forever, and then start stitching like in the photo with the glue still wet (yep needle will be gluey but it will be worth it). From the underside and up and then back over from the underside again.
When you're nearly at the end, dab a little glue over your knots again and stitch nearly to the end.
The last stitch you do like the first one straight over and do a couple of stitches in the same place to hold it and then stick the needle into the braid and up further down between your seams and cut the thread there.
Press down on the ends of the braid to get the glue all the way down to the edges and get a neat end. Clamp your ends closed with a clothespin or your fingers until it's somewhat dry to get your loop centered. If you skip the clamps and are in a hurry to get a nice photo of the tutorial you just finished, you'll most likely end up with an off center loop like I did =D
Pat yourself on the back! You've done a fantastic job! =D
Now you'll actually have to "wear in" your bracelet. This as the leather will be a bit unruly at first so be careful when you put it on the first few times and make sure the braid is in the center and press on it a little to make sure it stays perfectly centered. After you wear it a few times it'll stay place and you can just throw it on like any other bracelet.
Now enjoy your stunning new bracelet and make many more in different colors so you can mix and match! =)
Feedback on this tutorial is much appreciated and please don't hesitate to ask if anything is unclear! I truly believe you will love making your own, unique Sami Bracelets =)
If you make your own Sami Bracelet or anything from a pattern or tutorial of mine - I'd love if you add it to my flickr group and thereby share it with me and the world so we all can enjoy it and be inspired by it: Not Only Quilts - Share Your Creations <3