During my teenage years, one of the things I loved the most was wearing friendship bracelets. MANY friendship bracelets. I really loved having my wrists full of them.
Unfortunately I didn't know how to make them yet, but I was really interested in finding out how they were made. Later, when I had already stopped wearing so many, I finally learned how they were made watching tutorials online.
I learned that the technique that is used to create them is called macramè and although it takes some time and patience, it isn't as hard as I thought.
It can be very adaptable so this is the reason why I decided to show you how to make a custom macramè bracelet. Once you understand the basics, you can create all the patterns you want.
This technique is used to create jewelry or bigger things like a purse or a chair's back. There are many different things about macramè (I don't even know some of them), but the way I made this bracelet is very simple and I'm sure anybody can do it!
Step 1: What You Need
- 2 colors cotton threads* - I used black and yellow
- a clip, or piece of tape, pins, or whatever you need to keep the threads still
- your hands
How long do they have to be?
Unfortunately I don't have an exact answer for this. Macramè consists of many knots so I can never know how long my threads should be, but I can tell that my yellow threads were about 50cm long (19.68 inches) and that was about the right size for me.
I cut my black thread double that size, but that's the one I worked with the most so I often had to add new pieces. You can either use an extremely long thread or add new pieces from time to time.
I don't feel comfortable working with a thread that is too long so I prefer to add new ones when the previous one is getting too short.
Step 2: Create Your Pattern
Before starting to make the bracelet, you need to make up your mind about the pattern that you want to draw on your bracelet.
I think the easiest way to do it is to make "drawings" on a grid full of squares. You can either draw them on paper or use a cross stitch software like PCStitch. I used PCStitch because it's much faster to me.
I figured that I would have used 9 lines (threads) for my bracelet so my pattern's width had to fit in 9 squares. I decided to leave the first and last rows free as border around the bracelet. I recommend you to do the same because the result looks better this way.
Now make some tries of the pattern you want to draw. I made an Instructables themed pattern for my bracelet. You can see it in the picture.
You can "write" something like your name for example, or draw symbols, this is all up to you.
When you have finally decided what your pattern will be you can start working on your bracelet!
Step 3: Prepare Your Threads
First of all align all of your threads so that they all begin at the same distance.
Leave about 5cm (1.96 inches) free from the beginning and make a knot.
Now you need to keep the top of your threads firm with something. I used a clip on a piece of wood, as you can see in the picture.
You could also attach the threads to a surface using a piece of tape, or pin them on something soft like a pillow.
Step 4: First Knot
The black thread is the one that will make the knots on each of the 9 yellow threads. For this reason you need to keep each thread separate. So, place the black thread on the left and keep all the yellow ones separate after the black one.
The first row is always a little confusing, but the more you make, the clearer it'll get.
Let's make the first knot now. This will be done on the first yellow thread, the one next to the black thread.
- Place the black thread on the yellow one, creating a semicircle shape.
- Put the tip of the black thread below the yellow one, making sure to pass it through the semicircle, between the black and yellow thread.
- Keep the yellow thread with one of your hands and pull the black one up to close the first half of the knot. The first row won't be very straight so don't make the knot too tight.
- Repeat exactly what you have just done, always keeping the black thread on the left: place it on the yellow thread then pass it through the semicircle and pull.
The first knot is complete.
Simple, isn't it?
Step 5: The First Row
Now put the first yellow thread on the left and let's start working on the second knot.
Repeat the knot you made in the previous step: place the black thread on the yellow one to create a semicircle and pass its end between the 2 threads.
Don't forget to make both knots otherwise you'll have just half knot.
What you obtain now is a second big knot, right next to the first one.
These are the knots you'll have to repeat over and over on all yellow threads.
Remember that you must always make your knots with the black thread only.
Keep working on each of the next yellow threads, just like you did for the first ones. When you finally reach the last yellow thread on the right, your first row of knots is finished.
Pull all the knots down a little if you think that they are too close to the big knot you made at the top. This way the row will be more straight.
Step 6: The Second Row
The second row is made starting from the right this time.
The knots are the exact opposite of the ones you made in the previous row.
So, keep the black thread on the right and let's start working on the last yellow thread, the one that is on the left of the black thread.
Again, create a semicircle on the yellow thread, making sure to keep the black thread on the right this time.
Pass its tip below the yellow thread, in the semicircle.
Keep the yellow thread firm and pull the black one up.
Repeat this to make the other half of the knot.
As you can see, the knot is always made that same way, the only thing that changes is the fact that the black thread must be kept on the right of the yellow thread.
Now keep making more knots on each of the next yellow thread, just like you did in the previous row.
The first row went from left to right, the second row goes from right to left.
Step 7: Keep Making Rows
When you finish the second row your black thread will be back to the left.
Now all you have to do is making another row that is just like the first row.
The 4th row will be just like the second one etc.
Keep making knots to create more rows.
The number of rows depends on how big your bracelet will be.
I divided my bracelet in 3 parts: the first one, the central one and the last one.
I figured that the central part needed 28 rows so I decided to make 28 rows for all 3 parts. The bracelet turned out a little longer than I thought but it was still ok.
All this depends on how long you want your bracelet to be and how many rows the central pattern will take.
The best advice I can give you is to try your bracelet on your wrist from time to time to make sure that you are doing it right :)
Step 8: Add a New Thread
Sooner or later one of your threads, the black one in this case, will probably become too short.
When this happens you need to cut a new thread of that same color and attach it to the short one somehow. Don't worry, doing this is not as hard as you may think!
First of all keep the tip of the new thread firm with a clip or whatever you are using.
Now make a knot on the yellow thread using the new black thread, as if you were making it with the short thread. Try to include the short thread in the knot, along with the yellow one. This way the short thread will be secured.
Complete the knot as usual and keep making more knots on the next yellow threads using the new long thread. Leave the short one back from now on.
At the end you can finally cut out the short threads from the back of the bracelet.
Step 9: The Pattern - Part 1
It's time to draw your pattern on the bracelet now.
From now on you need to consider the drawing you made at the beginning in a vertical way instead, so that the 9 lines are horizontal.
The white squares you see in my pattern will be the knots made with the black thread, and the black squares will be the knots made with the yellow threads.
The first square is white so the knot needs to be black, just like the ones you have done till now.
The different part comes now: the second square is black so the knot needs to be yellow.
To make the yellow knot you need to consider the black and yellow threads as if they were inverted. This means that the knot must be done with the yellow thread ON the black one.
You must still keep the black thread on the left and the yellow one on the right, but place the yellow one on the black one this time, always forming a semicircle. Proceed as you did for all the other knots.
Step 10: The Pattern - Part 2
Now your first yellow knot is done. You can see that your yellow thread is on the left and the black one is on the right.
There are 5 white squares now. That means that you must make 5 black knots. Make them as you always did in the previous rows.
Again, make a new yellow knot, just like you did for the previous one.
Finally, make one more black knot.
The row is complete.
Step 11: The Pattern - Part 3
Here is what you must always remember:
- place the black thread on top of the yellow one if the knot you have to make is black
- place the yellow thread on top of the black one if the knot must be yellow
Keep making black or yellow knots this way following the pattern you drew.
Step 12: The Last Part
When you have finished the pattern in the central part of your bracelet make other 28 black rows, just like the ones you made in the first part.
At the end make a simple big knot to secure all threads together.
Leave another 5cm (1.96 inches) of free threads at the end like you did at the top of the bracelet and cut the threads.
Now you can either keep your bracelet this way and make a knot with the ending threads whenever you wear it, or you can make an adjustable knot so that you can enlarge and tighten your bracelet whenever you want to wear it.
Look at the next step to find out how to make it.
Leaving the bracelet this way is both good and not so good in my opinion.
It's good because you could also use this bracelet as a bookmark or whatever you want to use it for. Not so good because once you wear it and make a knot it will be hard to loosen and you may need to cut the threads. In this case you wouldn't be able to wear it anymore, unless you find a new way to do it.
Step 13: The Adjustable Knot - Part 1
The adjustable knot is a simple square knot made around the 2 ends of your bracelet.
So, join the 2 ends together overlapping each other and keep them firm with a clip to be able to work better.
Now cut a piece of black thread. The black thread I used to make the knots in the bracelet was still pretty long so I used that one.
Tie it around your bracelet's threads to keep them together. This way you'll have half of the black thread on the left and the other half on the right.
Place the left one on the bracelet's threads to form a semicircle, just like you did for the other knots.
Now form another semicircle with the right thread, but place it below the bracelet's threads instead.
Finally, insert that same thread in the semicircle made with the left thread and pull both threads.
This knot is also composed of 2 knots so the first half is done.
Let's make the second half now.
Step 14: The Adjustable Knot - Part 2
To make the second half of the knot you need to do the same thing you did before, but on the opposite side, as if it was reflected in the mirror :)
So, form a semicircle on top of the bracelet's threads using the black thread on the right.
Form a semicircle on the other side with the left thread, but place it on the back of the bracelet's threads.
Pass it through the right semicircle and pull the threads.
The first square knot is complete!
Make other 3 or 4 square knots, make some simple knots to secure everything and cut the threads.
These square knots will allow you to make the threads slip so that you can enlarge and tighten your bracelet.
Be careful: don't enlarge it too much otherwise one of the end of the bracelet will slip out from the square knot and you won't be able to insert it anymore. If you want to be sure that this won't happen, make one more knot at the end of each of the bracelet's ends so that they can't pass through the square knot.
You see? This is so much easier to do than to explain!
You can finally wear your new bracelet now!! :)