Introduction: Quilter's Friendship Bracelets

About: Retired techie in love with crafts, cooking, and all things creative.

I recently attended a multi-day quilter's conference where people came from all over the world to discover new products, take classes, and admire award winning quilts. The yearly event is a great excuse to get away from everyday routine and spend time with friends. Attendees were mainly women who traveled together from their various locations and slept in shared hotel rooms after the day's activities. The experience reminded me of summer camp, a yearly adolescent adventure that involved time away from home, fun times, and a renewed outlook.

My favorite part of summer camp was making crafts, especially friendship bracelets. These treasures could be made in an afternoon, exchanged with fellow campers and proudly worn stacked on the wrist.

Inspired by memories past and present, I made these quilter's friendship bracelets. At camp, we used twine and trade beads. This version uses colorful printed quilting fabric and crystal beads. It uses a handy adjustable macrame closure which keeps it soft and makes it easy to take on and off. I love that I found a way to use quilting fabric in a new and meaningful way. The modern version is equally as satisfying and can be made and exchanged with fellow quilters. The process uses a simple weaving technique to make the bracelet. This Instructable will explain how it's done.


Quilting Fabric. I used both fat quarters and scraps from other projects. You need enough for a 16 x 1.25 strip of fabric cut on the bias.

Stretch Magic. About 10 inches of .8 mm. Pick this up in the jewelry section of your favorite big box store, or order online. It is made for stretch bracelets and has a nice stretch and recovery. It is also made to be easy to string beads. If you can't find it, you can use any type of cording that the beads will go through.

Beads. Look for something that has a nice contrast to your fabric and make sure the hole is big enough to go through the stretch magic. I used 10mm fire polished crystals for these instructions, but use what you like. You will need to adjust the number you use based on the size. I've linked to my favorite online jewelry supplier.

Jewelry Glue. Use to secure thread and glue knots. I use G-S Hypo cement because it has an extra tiny applicator. Super glue will also work.

Nylon Thread. Used to make the macrame closure and to finish the ends. Alternatively, use a tightly twisted embroidery floss, waxed linen, Chinese knotting cord, or a heavy thread.

Bead stopper or tape. Use when stringing the beads so they don't fall off the cord.

Macrame Board. I love my macrame board and use it often. If you don't have one, any flat surface that will hold a pin will do.

Sewing Tools

Rotary cutter and mat. These important tools are a mainstay for any quilter. Alternatively, simply use a ruler and pen to mark the strip and then cut with scissors.

Scissors, needle and thread


Fray check

Sewing machine or serger

Step 1: Make Bias Strips

This project requires fabric bias strips so it is possible to make fabric tubes that can easily be turned inside out and then woven into a bracelet.

To make bias strips, first lay your fabric on a cutting surface. Position your ruler diagonally across the fabric as shown in the first photo. If your ruler has a bias marking, use it to determine the bias. Alternatively, look for the bias diagonal marking on the cutting mat. Cut a strip 1.25 inches wide. The length should be at least 15 inches.

Fold the long edges of the strip in half right sides together. Sew from one end to the other using a quarter inch seam allowance.

Use a tube turner to turn the tube so the right side of the fabric is out.


The finished bias strip is now just under 1/2 inch wide.

Step 2: String Beads

Cut a 10 inch length of stretch magic cord. String 10 beads.

Fold cord in half and tie with a square knot. If you pull the circle from top to bottom, the length should be about 4 inches. Add a drop of glue to secure the knot. When dry, trim ends.

We will call this our lazy cord ring.

Step 3: Position Lazy Cord Ring on Board

A lazy cord is a term that refers to a cord that doesn't move during the weaving process. A working cord is the cord that moves over and under the lazy cord to make the structure. The bias fabric strip will be the working cord.

Position the lazy cord circle on the macrame board as shown in the picture. The knot should be positioned close to the top so that it will be hidden by the fabric strip during the weaving process. Use the bottom pin to make the circle taut. Once positioned, the circle will have 2 lazy cords--a left cord and right cord.

Working right to left, position the bias strip (working cord) under both lazy cords. Leave at least a 5 inch tail on the right. This will be part of your closure.

Step 4: Weave Together

Move the working cord over the left cord and under the right cord.

The working cord is now on the right. Move it over the left cord and under the right cord. Continue this zig zag process going right to left and then left to right three times. Stop when the working cord is on the right. Now its time to incorporate the beads.

Move the left bead up and position under the last weave. Move working cord under the left lazy cord. This will position the bead in place. Move the right bead up and position under the last weave. Move the working cord under the right lazy cord to position the bead in place. Continue this process until all of your beads are woven in. Continue the zig zag process three more times to match the top. As you weave, your lazy cords will get used up, so stretch it a bit so everything will fit. You want it a bit tight so the weaving stays in place.

The key here is to keep the lazy cord ring taut as you work.

Remove your finished piece from the board and pull each tail a bit so they lay straight.

Try it on to see how it looks. Hopefully you will like what you see. If you aren't satisfied, it is easy to take out and do the weaving again.

Step 5: Add Closure

The remaining tails will be part of the closure. This very cool closure is called a Shambalia closure which is a common way to finish a friendship bracelet. For our design, we'll overlap the tails to make the bracelet circular as shown in the photos. A strip of macrame square knots is used to keep it together. The knotting will allow the tails to slide so that it can be loosened to put on and tightened to stay on the wrist.

Overlap the tails and pin on the macrame board as shown.

Take a length (about 18 inches) of nylon cord and tie an overhand knot evenly around the tails. Tighten.

Start with the left cord. Move it under the tails and over the right cord. Take the right cord over the tails and under the left cord. Tighten.

Take the left cord and move it under the tails and over the left cord. Take the left cord and move it over the tails and under the left cord. Tighten.

Continue this pattern until you have reached the desired width of the macrame strip. For my samples, I made a 1/2 inch width.

Take off the board and test to make sure the tails can slide under the closure.

Apply a tiny bit of glue to the last left and right knot tied. Let dry. Trim or weave in nylon cord.

Step 6: Finish Tails

For the last step, try on the bracelet and determine how much tail you want to leave to put it on. For me, I decided to leave about a 1.25 inches on each side. The tails will be finished off with a quarter inch section of coordinating wrapped thread and some fray check to seal the ends. This will finish off the tails and make it so the tails don't come apart from the macrame closure

With a needle and coordinating thread, take a stitch into the tail where you want the wrapping to begin. Wrap your thread, stitch to secure, and tie off. Trim the thread. Cut the excess tail just past the wrapped thread. Apply fray check .

All done. Now that you know the process, have fun with variations. Make some with or without beads, and experiment with different color schemes. Give to a fellow creative friend. Have fun with it.

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