Macrame Garments




About: Designer with a background in Textile/Fashion Design and a Masters degree in Fashion Artefact (London College of Fashion). My key expertise are experimental surface manipulations and leather weaving techniqu...

Intro: Macrame Garments


First of all and for the ones who dont know and are curious; here a brief intro to Macrame and what it has been used for....


Macramé or Macrame is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting. Its primary knots, are the square knot and forms of „hitching“: full hitch and double half hitches. It was long crafted by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms, to decorate anything from knife handles to bottles to parts of ships.Common materials used in macramé include cotton twine, hemp or yarn. Also leather is mentioned, but not much practised.

In the Western Hemisphere, macramé is believed to have originated with 13th-century Arab weavers. These artisans knotted the excess thread and yarn along the edges of hand-loomed fabrics into decorative fringes on bath towels, shawls, and veils. The Spanish word macramé is derived from the Arabic migramah believed to mean „striped towel“, „ornamental fringe“ or „embroidered veil.

It was introduced into England at the court of Mary II in the late 17th century. Queen Mary taught the art of macramé to her ladies-in-waiting.

Sailors made macramé objects in off hours while at sea, and sold or bartered them when they landed, thus spreading the art to places like China and the New World. Nineteenth-century British and American sailors made hammocks, bell fringes, and belts from macramé. They called the process „square knotting“ after the knot they used most frequently. Sailors also called macramé „McNamara‘s Lace“

Macramé was most popular in the Victorian era. Sylvia‘s Book of Macramé Lace (1882), a favorite, showed readers how „to work rich trimmings for black and coloured costumes, both for home wear, garden parties, seaside ramblings, and balls—fairylike adornments for household and underlinens ...“ Most Victorian homes were adorned by this craft. Macramé was used to make household items such as tablecloths, bedspreads and curtains.

Though the craze for macramé faded, it has regained popularity since the 1970s as a means to make wall hangings, articles of clothing, bedspreads, small jean shorts, tablecloths, draperies, plant hangers and other furnishings.

Step 1: Materials

The materials needed are quite basic.
Most important is the last ingredient.

- Woven cotton fabric (e.g. a canvas gauge) + fusing (to avoid fray fabric edges) or leather
- Thick leather split, vegetan leather, hard bag fusing or card (-> for reinforcing areas)
- Ropes (-> for reinforcing edges)
- Hard steel wire or steel boning, used for crinolines) (-> for reinforcing & strenghtening edges)
- Iron
- Scissors
- Revolver hole punch
- Glue
- Patience

Step 2: The Beginning

In order to make a start you need to prepare and cut your flat textile in the following way:

Step 1:
- Cut a piece of fabric or leather in a moderate size (e.g. 40x40 cm)
- depending on the weight and density of the material used -> iron fusing on. Leather does not need fusing

Step 2:
- Mark parallel lines of the same distance (e.g. 1,5 cm)
- Mark centre and keep space free in the center (width depending on Step 3 -> next page)
- Punch a hole where the vertical and the horizontal lines are crossing, by using the hole-punch
- Slash up the fabric/leather from both sides and until the hole (do not cunt through the centre part)

Step 3:
- Cut the holes out as shown on the drawing. This is done to allow the braid to stretch further apart at the starting edge/beginning. By doing so the look becomes more evenly.

Step 3: 3 Different Ways to Start

Depending on the look you want to archive, I have listed here three different ways of starting the braid, each of them creates another effect.

Beginning A; is the most simple of them all and purely consists of the start, as descibed in the previous step.
The distance at the center should not be less than 5mm, but 10mm is best to use (it also pulls together later).

Beginning B: has a flat centre, that is reinforced either with thick, glued-on fabric/leather, fusing or glue for vegetan leather or card. The space in between the beginnings of the slashed strips is up to you.
On the photo is about 4 cm wide.

Beginning C: is the most complicated to prepare and is starting with a rope or round-cut leather rope, wrapped in into the plain center. The distance/width of the centre, depends on the rope/material you decide to insert.
Here the rope has a diameter of about 7mm. Measure the circumference of your material, to decide on the width of the plain center space.
Thereafter punch a hole in the center of every strip on one side (place the holes as shown)

Step 4: Reinforcing: Flat and Round

Beginning B:
- Iron a strip of hard fusing onto the center, or glue a piece of vegetan leather, leather split or card onto the centre. Make it a little more narrow than the width at the plain centre. This way you make sure the reinforcement wont show through the gaps later.

Beginning C:
- Wrap the cord, rope or other material, into the plain centre and pull the slashed strips on the one side through the third row of holes you punched. Tighten firmly.

Step 5: Braiding the Piece

No matter which type of beginning you decide to use, the way how its been braided is the same.
The braid will always pull to the opposite direction of the braiding direction.

The second image describes the braiding process:
- Cut separate strips, from another piece of leather by using the rotary cutter, cutting matt and ruler. These should be ideally of the same width, you slashes the strips in previously (e.g. 1,5 cm)
- Fix your piece on one end (eventually by keeping it down with some weights) and start braiding the other, by:
Step 1:
- Taking a strip punching a hole at its end
- Pulling the opposite end through the hole and tying it around the first strip of the piece you slashed the endings apart.
Step 2:
- Then tie the strip you just attached, diagonally around the other. This you do by going first underneath it, pulling it up and sticking it through the gap created. Similar to tying an actual knot.
- After a few knots you will notice already the pull into one direction and the tense dynamic of the braided surface.

Step 6: Placing, Extending and Joining

Go knot after knot and row after row this way.
You can created various modules and elements separately from each other.
You can play with changes of direction, creating slits or gaps and so forth.
Whenever a strip ends, you can extend it.

Extending a strip: Proceed according to the graphic, by using the pliers.
- Once a strip ends, it can be elongated, by cutting its edge curved and punching a hole at its very end.
- The same thing is done with the strip that will be attached.
- Thereafter pull one punched end through the other.
- Get a hold of the opposite end of the strip that is to be attached, and pull it through the hole at the opposite end. Then tie firmly.

- After you have finished a bunch of different elements you can place and connect piece invisibly one with the other.
- To join them, you should ideally start another row, coming from a direction/an end that can cross the sends/strips over that need to be joint.
- After having attache the first strip, punch a whole close to the knot you tied just before.
- Pull the end through the hole, but do not tighten it yet.
- Collect the strips coming from opposite ends (red and blue = the ones you what join) trough the loop of this perpendicular row. -- Thereafter tie it well, pull the ends tight and hide them on the backside.

Step 7: Finishing Off

To finish off all the hidden and loose ends on the backside you need to turn your piece around.
Have a look does it look similar to the backside on the imagine?
In order to lock all the loose ends so the braid wont open, the strips have to be shortened, cut-out, punched and pulled through one another, similar to a chain.

Step 8: Structured Macrame Garments

Here a finished piece as an example.



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    1 year ago

    That looks beautiful, almost like a sculpture :)