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!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need:
-a ruler or tape measure
-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)
1-40 of 55Next »
clux132 months ago

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

calsup2 months ago

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

Lizzy81 year ago
This is so cool and easy, thanks!
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
mark_well1 year ago
I hope you don't mind if i link to this tutorial on my blog! I find it to be quite usefull!
My blog:
rread2 years ago
There is a fantastic resource at where you can design your own patterns before you make them.
maka rread1 year ago
I hadn't seen that one. I've been using this one:
maka maka1 year ago
Iz D.1 year ago
How did they make the black and neon onr in the first picture?
sherrycayheyhey (author)  Iz D.1 year ago
For that one I used black and 4 other colors. I'll tell you how to set up the strings with 'b' standing for black and 'x' standing for color. If you want 4 colors like mine is just replace each x with the color you want or if you want it spotted with one color replace the x with the same color all around. Starting at 12 o'clock and movings clockwise, set up the strings in pairs as follows:
bb (6o'clock)
davebegood1 year ago
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.
Servelan2 years ago
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
sherrycayheyhey (author)  Servelan2 years ago
It didn't print correctly for you? Did you change the diameter setting?
What I saw when I got there was a semi-circle; if I added threads/slots, it just got wider and didn't close up into a circle. It only became a circle when I reduced the diameter down to 3 cm, which is about an inch and a half. Hence my workaround.
I found that it was a semi circle too, but I joined the site and logged in and all was well - it's probably a 'put off' for people less ingenious and tenacious than us, huh?
i didn't have to join. just clicked the link on this page and it worked fine. did you try hitting print just to see what it would look like? maybe the browser isn't displaying correctly, but that doesn't mean the info isn't there.
sherrycayheyhey (author)  jaxbarton2 years ago
Which browser were you using?
sherrycayheyhey (author)  Servelan2 years ago
Very strange. I've printed out ones with 10-12cm diameters ranging from 8-32 strings on at least 3 different computer/printer setups and it's always come out about the same size. Sorry that you had an annoying time with it but thanks for posting what you did incase anyone else runs into trouble :)
sherrycayheyhey (author)  Servelan2 years ago
Which browser were you using?
aprilweeks2 years ago
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?
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
illoatayde2 years ago
Cool, nice job!
majeral2 years ago
You can buy a wheel form Fire Mountain beads on line. Easy instructions and a very sturdy wheel.
sherrycayheyhey (author)  majeral2 years ago
Do they have ones larger than 32 slots? I've seen a lot of commercial wheels available which are fine for what seems to be the unofficial standard of 16 strands but that won't work for larger patterns like the 24 strand USA flag.
I don''t know, I have not seen the USA flag sound great can you e-mail me the fag?
Have you checked the site for beading? check out Fusion beads, Buddhist beads I will check my bookmarks for them. Fire Mountain beads.
I am Buddhist and was looking at my prayer beads and thought why can't I make these ( lol) when I happened on a YOUTube instructions very cool.
I just got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and it is giving me a run for my money lol .
Anyway keep in touch. Let me know who you are doing in your search.
schnitzle2 years ago
I see the same semi-circle issue in Firefox, but when I opened the site in Safari it displayed properly.
I had the same problem with Firefox, but it worked fine in Google Chrome.
sherrycayheyhey (author)  schnitzle2 years ago
Weird...usually Safari is the scapegoat haha.
Hartyboys2 years ago
Hi! Great instructable. People might be interested in this website as you can design your own pattern with different strand counts
and this website has a great idea of how to set up a wheel so you remember where your threads start
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! :-)
thanks so much for this!! i have been wanting to add a new "knot" to my repertoire and this looks fun!

many thanks ~ella
sherrycayheyhey (author)  RapidEyeMvmt2 years ago
You're welcome! :) After checking out your shop I'm amazed you haven't tried this. I have a feeling you're going to love it, there's so much pattern potential and you can make them pretty quickly. I'd love to see pictures of any that you make too.
willichan2 years ago
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.
sherrycayheyhey (author)  willichan2 years ago
Please see CountryKitty's comment.
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!
I would also like to see the set up for the USA Flag. Thanks in advance and congratulations on being "Featured."
sherrycayheyhey (author)  hammer98762 years ago
Thanks, please see above :)
sherrycayheyhey (author)  CountryKitty2 years ago
The USA flag is 24 strands so you'll need to have the proper wheel with extra slots. Same technique though, pairs of strands with 2 slots between each pair.

r=red, b=blue, w=white
starting at 12 and working clockwise, the pattern:

bw (6 o'clock)
strship472 years ago
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.
1-40 of 55Next »

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!