31 July 2011

A Macrame Bracelet or Necklace Tutorial

Cool the things that you learn as a kid that you get to use in different forms later in life.

My best friend in the world lived 3 doors down from me and growing up we were always at each others places.  Her dad was a seaman, in the merchant navy as a young maltese man and later a tug hand and he had the most amazing talent for macrame with ships rope - I mean really, really good, he could take a piece of ugly rope and turn it into an amazing planter holder or a doormat or a myriad of other things.  I so wish I had photos because you'd be impressed too. 

Anyway, I used to watch him making and somewhere along the line I had a crack at it too.  I don't think I ever made anything particularly useful but I kept the basic knots locked away in my brain and in recent years have had the opportunity to drag them out and make bracelets and necklaces with an 'organic' and nature based leaning.  They're so easy and quick to make, I thought I would share some of the basics ....

You will need ...
  • some plain cotton cord, or hemp cord, or waxed cord, even thin leather cord, at a pinch you can even use string or gardening twine!
  • some large holed beads, I've used indian matte glass 'congo beads', wooden beads work well.
  • greek springs or foldover leather ends, parrot (lobster) clasp & spring ring, and two jump rings - these are an optional finish to your item, you can also simply tie your ends or create a button/loop finish too.  It's completely up to you.

The Supplies
Take 2 lengths of cord - your middle cord will only need to be the requrired finished length of your bracelet/necklace when folded in half + 15 odd cms to allow for your end knots.  To work out the length of your outer cords - calculate based on 1cm (6 knots) of spiral work taking 6 cm of cord , and 1cm (5 knots) of flat work taking 5cm of cord.  Don't forget to add 15 cms for your end knots and factor in some length for your beads.  Keep the shorter length on the inside and fold both cords at their centre so you have a loop.

Do a simple knot

Keeping your short lengths on the inside - your working cords are the two outside lengths

Take your right cord under the middle two and over the left cord

Your left cord then goes over the middle cords and through the right loop, and tighten both cords.  Keep going with the same technique which will start to form a natural spiral.

To add a bead, simply slide onto the two middle cords and continue knotting as before

Want to do a different, flat style of knotting?  Do your usual right under middle over left, left over middle through right as you have been.

Your next knot will be left under middle over right, right over middle through left.

Alternate the knots and the cord will remian flat and not spiral.

One optional finish (requiring no extra findings) is to do a large knot which will go through the loop on the other end and be held in place.  Alternatively do a smaller knot, cut the ends approx 1cm from the knot on each end and use either greek springs or foldover leather ends jumprings and a parrot clasp/spring ring to finish.

Not long enough for a bracelet as this was just my sample piece showing the different aspects, but you get the idea!
Please feel welcome to send in pics (info@newzealandhandmade.co.nz)  if you give this a go and we'll display them on our Facebook page :)


  1. Cool tutorial Mel. I remember doing macrame when I was a kid. Had no idea how now tho. Thanks for the reminder :)

  2. Great tutorial! I have several cards of different colours of macrame cord that I found in an op shop a few months ago so will give this a go - thanks Mel x

  3. Great info Mel,

    I remember 20 years ago doing Macrame, and I had a custom order to make a macrame hanger to hold a telescope.

    It was fun to make

    cheers Marie


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