Plastic lacing crafts have been around for a long time, with names as colorful as their plastic pieces. One or two (or four, or eight) strands of flexible lacing can be twisted, braided, and tied into jewelry, keychains, zipper pulls and more. They are a simple, customizable craft that can keep children as young as five occupied and provide something simple and relaxing for adults to do. It will take a matter of minutes to learn the basics; completing a craft can take 20 minutes and upward depending on how complex you want to go and how much practice you have. This page will teach you how to weave plastic lacing- what you use it for is up to your imagination!
Step 1: What You Need:
- Plastic lacing in your favorite colors (Here I am using the two strand method, I chose two different colors to make it easy to tell them apart)
- Any accessories for the finished product (clasp or keyring)
- (optional) Hot glue or lighter to permanently seal the finished product
Step 2: Cut Two Equal Lengths of Lacing.
The woven laces will be less than a quarter of their original length, so make sure to start with enough. For longer crafts, you might have to start with some pretty lengthy strands, but those ends can be hard to manage at first, so I’ve cut these about 48 inches. Try to get your strands as close in length as possible.
Step 3: Lay Out Laces and Accessory.
Here I am making a zipper pull, so I am attaching the clasp by weaving the laces around it at this end. You can do the same thing with a keychain or a large jewelry clasp, or even do without, although it can be handy to have a point to anchor the lacing during these first few steps.
- Start by finding the center of each lace.
- Thread the accessory onto both laces until it is in the middle of the lengths of lacing.
- Cross the laces in an X at their center point, under the accessory. Both laces should be laying flat, one over the other.
Step 4: Bend the Ends of ONE Lace Across the Center Point to the Opposite Side.
Keep the ends parallel to each other. Caution: avoid twisting the laces, just fold them over so that they are straight. The finished product will look much smoother.
Step 5: Fold the Ends of the Other Lace OVER the Loose Ends and UNDER the Loops Created by the First Lace.
Things might look a bit messy still, and that’s okay! Gently tug on each end until it is snug, but not too tight.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 4 and 5.
You should be making square ‘knots’. Pull the ends firmly now that you have it started. Each time you fold your laces over, you should be threading the others through them so that they are all holding each other’s ends down securely. After a few more repetitions, you should be able to clearly see the square shape of your lacing, with one side one color and the other side the other color.
Step 7: Continue Until You Have Only a Few Inches of Lacing...
...or until you want to add in some variety! This step will explain how to switch things up. If you want to keep it simple and finish up, see step 8.
Now that you’ve mastered the weaving process, you can make your ‘knots’ turn to flip the colors on each side, or even keep going to turn your square weaving into a spiral.
1. Repeat step 3, but turn your ends so they are running diagonally across the square instead of straight across. Before, your laces should have stayed on the same side of their other end. Here, you will fold it over to the opposite side of its other end (if the other end is usually on the right when you fold them over, fold so it is on the left- see photos.)
2. Repeat step 4, tucking the laces over the loose ends and under the loops, the same as before.
3. Keep 'spinning' the laces the same direction each time to create the spiral shape.
4. If at any point you want to go back to square, just start folding and weaving straight across the square again.
Step 8: Seal Off the Ends to Prevent Unraveling.
This step isn’t strictly necessary, especially if you leave long enough ends that you can just pull on from time to time if the last square seems to be loosening. I have found that this is only occasionally necessary, plastic lacing will settle into its new shape pretty easily. But if you don’t want trailing ends or want to be absolutely sure it won’t loosen, you have a few options.
A. Apply a small bead of glue to the base of each end. Hot glue works best. Warning: Hot glue is a serious burn hazard, and takes practice to use neatly- for safety and best results, do not allow children under 13 to use it, and always supervise even the older kids.
B. Use a flame to carefully melt the bottom of your craft to fuse the plastic laces together. Again, this is a serious burn hazard and takes some patience. Only adults should use this method.
C. (Pictured) Tie each strand in a knot, as close to the base of the craft as you can manage (it might take a few tries).
Step 9: Finished!
Now you have completed your first plastic lacing craft! The possibilities are endless. I encourage you to keep experimenting- there are many more techniques and styles than the ones I have covered here. You’re halfway to being an expert- don’t forget to teach someone else your newfound skills.