Introduction: Braiding Wheel Friendship Bracelets

I recently bought a large pack of embroidery thread intending to make some of those normal knotted friendship bracelets. Instead I learned how to make these braided ones and they are so much easier and faster to make that I've become a little obsessed with making them. 

Now, you might have seen these wheel bracelet things before and thought they were too complicated, and that's exactly what I thought too but when I figured out what was going on I realized that that isn't true at all. I think a lot of the intimidation comes from the wheels that have a bunch of numbers printed on them, they are scary and imply math or counting of some sort. Trust me though, after cutting the thread and setting it up there aren't any numbers or counting to worry about. 

Making the wheel and setting up the strings take a little effort but is by no means difficult. Once you do that and learn 3 simple moves, you'll be cranking out these bad boys in no time. 

This project is great for a large age range and is really good at keeping people occupied and quiet. I have multiple wheels that I keep in the car, at the couch, and in my backpack that keep me very content during those normally wasted downtimes. Seriously, once you make one of these and see how easy and fun it is, you won't be able to keep your hands off to them!


Step 1: Materials

You will need:
-a ruler or tape measure
-scissors
-16 strands of 20" embroidery thread, four each of four colors (you can cut these while you wait for the glue to dry in the next step)
-glue (a gluestick would probably be better but the only one I had was dried up the the size of a crayon)
-thin cardboard (mine was from Fudgsicles, yum!)
-a printed wheel template (see next step)

Step 2: The Wheel

This site is very useful because it has a wheel designer that let's you make whatever size you need. Press the 'Add' button until you get to 16 strings and then hit 'Print disk' to create the template. 

Glue the printed wheel to the thin cardboard. Since I was using white glue I spread it super thin with another piece of cardboard because I hate how paper gets all rippled when too much glue is used. 

Wait for the glue to dry (a great time to cut your string is now!) and then cut out the wheel. The center can be a little tricky but I just use the scissors like a saw, it's not pretty but it gets the job done. 

Step 3: Stringing the Wheel

Gather all 16 strings and tie a knot, leaving about an inch of string on the end. Tie a second knot over this to make a nice bulky knot. 

Insert the string through the wheel, knot end first.

The goal here is to have pairs of strings evenly spaced between the wheel, that means with two notches separating each pair. To do this, think of the wheel as a clock with 12 o'clock being the two notches above the website name. 

Check out the last picture to see what I'm talking about. The setups is as follows:
-color one (pink) at 12 o'clock and 6'oclock
-color two (dark blue) at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock
-color three (light blue) at 4:30 and 10:30
-color four (white) at 1:30 and 7:30


Step 4: Braiding

This video will show you the technique for braiding: 



Just say to yourself:
right down
left up
turn

That's it! Just repeat those three things over and over again until you run out of thread. 

***Do not, I repeat DO NOT cross the threads. It's a very common mistake to make but if you're aware of it you will be less likely to be tricked by it. When you pull a right string down it goes on the right side of the set of strings on the bottom. When you move the left string up it goes on the left side of the strings at the top. It is tempting to want to make the thread cross over and to put a right one to the left side (or a left one to the right side) but just don't do it. It's a trap! 

Step 5: Finishing and Tips & Tricks

Detach the strings from the wheel and tie a knot at the end of the braid. Leave a little space (about the side of the big knot you started with) and then tie another knot. Now push the big knot through the two knots to close the bracelet. Trim any crazy ends and you're done! :)

Tips & Tricks
-When you need a break from braiding, be sure to leave the wheel with a set of one and set of three stings as in the third picture. It will be much easier to find your place when you come back than if you had left all strings in pairs of two.
-Don't worry if the spacing on your wheel isn't always two slots apart, you didn't mess up, the spacing changes and you'll notice it goes back to even spacing and then uneven a bunch of times.
-If you make a bracelet with more than 16 strands you'll have to make each strand longer. I haven't been able to find too much information about this but if you do please share. 
-Making different patterns is as simple as changing the colors of string, the order of the colors when you start is what determines the pattern.
-Walmart has the best deal I've been able to find on the thread. You can get a box of 56 skeins for about $5. Look for it on the arts and craft aisle in the pink section. 

Comments

author
JennyS112 (author)2017-04-03

Patterns for the speckled one!

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JennyS112 (author)2017-04-03

Heres the pattern for the speckled one

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craft-and-crochet (author)2016-07-25

Very nice, thanks for posting this!

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Creativemalaika (author)2016-07-06

Can I have the pattern for the black bracelet with the spots on it in the picture at the top? I'd love to learn how to make it!

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Creativemalaika (author)2016-07-06

Can I have the pattern for the black bracelet with the spots on it in the picture at the top? I'd love to learn how to make it!

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Courageous Kumihimo made it! (author)2016-02-15

Hello everyone!

I've made many of these braided bracelets...

And I figured out the pattern for the USA flag bracelet!

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QueenLucyofNarnia131436 (author)2015-04-28

Please show me how to make the red, white & blue one! I want to make it so bad but I can't find the pattern...

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Gdoodles (author)2015-04-26

There is also a version using 7 strands and a loom of 8 slots.

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ChaoticJinx1 (author)2015-03-10

What brand/ style of thread did you use? I had left over embroidery thread (that you can pull a couple of stands apart to actually embroider with) and I found I lost a couple of those little strands along the way... Just so I have something to compare it with.
I also went to the trouble to buy a wheel--- and for some odd reason my pairs did not always space correctly/
Otherwise--- made my first one in like an hour...

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mattparsons (author)2014-12-26

you can find boxes of 105 skeins and 8 wheels at walmart for $15

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Heidi.Ann.Lindner (author)2014-12-09

Amethyst Star it is 20 inches for each strand

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Amethyst Star (author)2014-12-08

Do you mean 20 inches for each strand or 20 inches in total for all four strands? (Sorry, newbie here)

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princess (author)2014-12-07

Yummy fudgesicles

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princess (author)2014-12-07

so easy making one right now

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Aqua_wsf (author)2014-08-08

This is a cool type of bracelet, you can also use this and braid around a pair of apple earbuds so that they won't get tangled!

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clux13 (author)2014-05-02

Love the flag. What are the color set ups for it and the black with color spots?

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calsup (author)2014-04-25

it was easy with the instructions! :)♡♥♡♥♡

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PocketRocket23 (author)2014-02-09

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Lizzy8 (author)2013-06-26

This is so cool and easy, thanks!

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phangirlforlife (author)2013-01-02

are there any other designs that you can share? I'd really like to learn some more! I already know stripes, hearts, diamonds, and flowers and I'm going to try the American flag one

author
mark_well (author)2012-12-10

I hope you don't mind if i link to this tutorial on my blog! I find it to be quite usefull!
My blog: http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-make-friendship-bracelets-out-of-paracord

author
rread (author)2012-07-25

There is a fantastic resource at http://www.craftdesignonline.com/marudai/?a=js_kongohgumi2 where you can design your own patterns before you make them.

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maka (author)rread2012-10-14

I hadn't seen that one. I've been using this one: http://www.lythastudios.com/123bead/kumiplanner.html

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Iz D. (author)2012-07-28

How did they make the black and neon onr in the first picture?

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davebegood (author)2012-07-25

Hi! I've made a ton of these over the last couple of years and would like to share some of the things I've learned. You don't really need a pattern, although the one pictured is very nice. You can just cut a circle out of cardboard, any size, and cut short slits in about every 1/2 inch or so, the more the better. The exact number isn't that important, as long as there's enough, or more than enough. Also, I like the hole in the middle to be small enough to grip the braid tightly. It seems to work better. You can use six pairs of threads, or lots more, but it'll look best if you use an even number. Also, you can have more threads than just a pair, like say, eight groups of four threads. For a keychain thing, tie a thread tightly around the middle of the lengths of strings,pull them through the board so you start braiding from the middle of the strings, where the thread is, instead of the end. When the braid is about an inch & a half long, bend the loose half of unbraided strings back up through the hole, cut the thread off, and add them on top of the strings already there, and continue the braid. That makes a loop on one end of your finished braid.

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aprilweeks (author)2012-07-23

Anyone know how to add beads to a bracelet like this? I've seen some text descriptions that say to put the beads on the string before you start braiding, but I'm not sure how it actually works. Do you only put beads on one string? Do you have to tie any knots? Do the beads warp the bracelet - and if so, can you balance out the warping by putting beads on opposite threads?

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Miss Pixel (author)aprilweeks2012-07-23

While braiding, when moving a string from one position to another, just put a bead on that string, no knots or anything required, just keep moving the strings and add beads as you go

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illoatayde (author)2012-07-23

Cool, nice job!

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schnitzle (author)2012-07-22

I see the same semi-circle issue in Firefox, but when I opened the site in Safari it displayed properly.

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TuoKen (author)schnitzle2012-07-22

I had the same problem with Firefox, but it worked fine in Google Chrome.

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Hartyboys (author)2012-07-22

Hi! Great instructable. People might be interested in this website as you can design your own pattern with different strand counts
http://craftdesignonline.com/kumihimo/
and this website has a great idea of how to set up a wheel so you remember where your threads start
http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/how-to-make-friendship-bracelets.html

author
lovethebackwoods (author)2012-07-22

I'm an inveterate recycler. I got out a cup with about a 3" base and traced the base onto the thick plastic from the sides of gallon jugs of commercial tea that my husband keeps buying. I used strong scissors to cut a 3/4" slit into one area, turned the disc 180 and repeated, then turned the disk so the two slits were at east and west, and cut two more slits at north and south. Then I cut four more slits about midway between each of the first four slits. A friend gave me a spent .22 rifle shell and I held it (with pliers) in fire, then pierced the center of the disc. I made dozens of these discs in just minutes. Eight slits, use seven strands of cord (thread, yarn, whatever). My students and grandkids love 'em, and they're great to keep on hand for unexpected down time. It's easy to add small beads or charms. Kids love giving and exchanging them, and it leads them into new areas of crafts and handwork. Thanks for this great 'ible! :-)

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strship47 (author)2012-07-22

Really nice work,just wondering if anyone came up with
a way of joining the ends together without using a knot?
Possibly with a short piece of elastic band.

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RapidEyeMvmt (author)2012-07-22

thanks so much for this!! i have been wanting to add a new "knot" to my repertoire and this looks fun!

many thanks ~ella

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ExistentialElla

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willichan (author)2012-07-22

I used to teach my Webelo scouts to do 7-strand kumihimo to make lanyards, or backpack ties. It is a really strong braid.

How did you do the U.S. Flag pattern? I would love to do that one.

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CountryKitty (author)2012-07-22

Very nice instructable. I have a ton of embroidery thread picked up ultra cheap at thrift shops and garage sales over the years--along with a horde of yarn, macrame rope and crochet thread, etc--this gives me a whole new use for some of it! Could you tell me how you did the USA flag bracelet? I would really appreciate it!

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hammer9876 (author)CountryKitty2012-07-22

I would also like to see the set up for the USA Flag. Thanks in advance and congratulations on being "Featured."

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frisbeechamp1983 (author)2012-07-22

http://craftdesignonline.com/kumihimo/

Try Before you buy

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majeral (author)2012-07-22

You can buy a wheel form Fire Mountain beads on line. Easy instructions and a very sturdy wheel.

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Servelan (author)2012-07-20

I found that at the website to make a braiding template, I had to reduce the size significantly in order to get a complete circle (3 cm). I have a .pdf reader and can also save in .pdf format, so I did that and then zoomed in 400% to get a reasonable size; took a screenshot and used that. I attached a copy of that to make it easier for folks.

kumihimo braided bracelet wheel.jpg
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tqwerty (author)2012-07-20

How long is the finished bracelet when the strands you use are 20"?
Also, how do you do the other patterns?

Thanks! I'd love to try this right now!

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artfulann (author)2012-07-20

Nice job!

An even lower tech version of this I taught to my middle schoolers:
https://www.instructables.com/id/A-strangely-addictive-braiding-wheel/

You can also find a foam wheel at Joanns in the plastic lanyard area for under $5. Or on Amazon- look under kumihimo- there are round, square, etc. shapes with different ways of braiding- flat and round.

author
fuddle (author)2012-07-19

Very cool instructable- well written., clear, concise and great photos.
The disk- you probably know this- is called a kumihimo disk-.
The author Jacqui Carey has a couple of fantastic books on kumihimo Japanese braid weaving- maybe you or the readers might be interested in these.

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