How to make friendship bracelets - Bracelets made of cord step by step tutorial | Projects | beadsdirect.co.uk
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How to make friendship bracelets - Bracelets made of cord step by step tutorial

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How to make friendship bracelets - Bracelets made of cord step by step tutorial

Designed by: Paula Banaszak

Difficulty: Intermediate

Rating:

Would you like to learn how to make friendship bracelets? Colourful bracelets made using cord are trendy again. And it’s not surprising – not only making them is a really pleasant thing and you can make plenty of colourful versions, but also they look wonderful on your wrist. And the most important thing – it’s a perfect present idea if you are stuck for a handmade gift design for a friend or family member. 

The friendship bracelets trend appeared in the USA in the 1970’s and it came there from Central America. The bracelets appeared in Europe in the 1990’s and they are still popular handmade jewellery. The most famous person who was caught making friendship bracelets was the president of the USA who was making a bracelet for his friend, Joe Biden. The men don’t work in the White House anymore, but their friendship still lasts.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make basic knots and several patterns (without looking at a sheet of paper or a computer screen).

Products used in this project:

You may use embroidery cord or coated cord, but we recommend you use the following.

  • Macramé cord – the best would be 1mm or 1.5mm cord
  • optional: flat jewellery end caps, jump rings, a lobster clasp, jewellery glue

Why a macramé cord instead of an embroidery cord? It’s because when the first friendship bracelets appeared people used cords they found in their grandmas’ kits. In such a kit you may usually find embroidery cords which are used for embroidery, that means they are not scraped, stroked or pulled all day long as it happens to the bracelets. Macramé cords are made specially to use them as jewellery for a long time.

Note: Your work needs to be attached to something, so you may use a safety pin clipped on your jeans, a paper pad holder, a small vice or a corkboard with pins.

Our course is mainly to learn the technique of tying the knots and to get familiar with cord bracelets patterns. The most important thing is to experiment with colours. Let your imagination run wild and let’s do this!

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Basic macrame knots
There are 4 basic knots (hitches). Each knot uses double hitches in different combinations.                                                              THE FORWARD KNOT – a thread goes from the left to the right

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THE BACKWARD KNOT – a thread goes from the right to the left:

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THE FORWARD BACKWARD KNOT - Use the left string to tie one hitch and use the currently right string to tie a left hitch:

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THE BACKWARD FORWARD KNOT - Use the right string to tie one hitch and use the currently left string to tie a right hitch:

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How to prepare your workplace and what cords you need to make a friendship bracelet

Coated cords and floss are used in this tutorial. You can achieve great effects and the guaranteed permanence by using macramé cords. Choose 1 or 1.5 mm cords. You need several 1 m pieces of cord in various colours to make a bracelet (the number of pieces of cords depends on the chosen pattern).

before you start knotting, burn the endings with a lighter. The cords will melt and they won’t fray.

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Double over all the cords and tie a knot (this is only one of the various ways of starting your work)

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Prepare a place where the tied cords can be attached to. I’m going to work using the cork board. I have also pinned a white sheet of paper so that I can see the cords better.

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Pin the cords to the board and put them in the correct order.

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TIP: When I used floss, I hung it on a piece of cord that was pinned to the board. It is very convenient to attach your work to the separated piece of thread (placed horizontally) if you want to use flat end caps as a clasp. As you have finished your work, remove the endings of the additional thread.

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The forward knots and how to tie them

Each knot is tied with two strings. So, take two first strings. We are going to tie the forward knot, so the knot will be violet, and the first string is going to move to the right (if we tied the backward knot here, it would be yellow). If you work with the forward knots only, the whole row is in the colour of the first thread (violet).

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Tie a knot with the violet string, as it is shown in the picture.

IMPORTANT: keep the second string (yellow) taut all the time, and pull the working string (violet) up and to the left a bit.

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Half of the knot is tied. Note, that the violet string is already placed to the side it is going to move (to the right).

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Let’s tie the second half of the knot. Hold the violet string on the left, so that it can go to the right again. Tie a knot the same way as the previous half.

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Now, we are going to tie another forward knot with the violet string on the next one (also violet).

Repeat the previous steps to tie a knot.

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And now, the second half of the knot…

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This is how two knots should look.

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Tie another forward knots on the following strings.

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The whole row of the forward knots is completed. Now to the next one. Take the first left string – the pink one.

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As previously, tie the forward knots.

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This is how the second row should look like. Make the whole bracelet the same way.

 TIP: If you work with floss or embroidery floss (especially with a bigger amount of strings), the forward knots place horizontally. In that case, the whole bracelet will be stripped

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This is how the finished bracelet should look.

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The backward knots and how to tie them

As it was done with the forward knots, we need to decide the order of the strings.

We are going to move to the right with the first string (green), but the whole row will be in the colour of the following strings, not the working one. It sounds confusing, but as you work, it becomes obvious.

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Take the first two strings – the green and the white one.

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Wrap the white string around the green one. The white string should be directed to the left.

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Tighten the knot pulling the white string up and to the left. Remember to hold the green string.

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Tie the second half of the knot the same way as the first one. The white string should be placed on the right side of the green one, as at the beginning. Pull the knot tightly.

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The next knot will be tied with the string number 1 (green) an the string number 3 (also green). Repeat the previous steps to tie a knit.

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Tie the next knot with the string number 3 (green) and number 4 (white).

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The whole row is completed.

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Start the second row. This time, the white string is the string number 1 and we are going to work with it. Tie the backward knots.

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The second row is finished.

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This shows what the finished bracelet should look like.

TIP: you can make your bracelet from the right (to the left). If you work wit the backward knots, the whole row will be in the same colour. And, and if you work with the forward knots, the whole row will be in the colour of the following strings.

It’s the reverse version of the bracelet made from the left to the right.

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The forward backward and the backward forward knots and how to tie them

I am not going to dwell on it – you already know it is by looking at the pictures at the beginning. As you have mastered the forward and the backward knots, these will be a piece of cake for you. To tie the forward backward knot you need to tie 1 forward knot and then 1 backward knot. The string goes back to its place.

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To tie the backward forward knot you need to tie 1 backward and then 1 forward knot.

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I have created a zigzag bracelet pattern for you to practise all the knots (free Bracelet Generator to create your own patterns).

the forward knot is represented by an arrow that is going diagonally to the right,

the backward knot is represented by an arrow that is going diagonally to the left,

the forward backward knot is represented by an arrow that initially goes down diagonally to the right and then down diagonally to the left,

the backward forward knot is represented by an arrow that initially goes down diagonally to the left and then down diagonally to the right.

As you have noticed, the pattern is created in rows, in which the knots are made by the pairs of strings. The first pair: blue and yellow, the second: brown and red, the third one: yellow and green.

The knots are not tied in a sequence, as you do while making only one kind of knot.

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  1. How to attach a new piece of cord

It may happen that you wrongly estimate the length of the string you need. Don’t throw away or unravel your work. Attach a new string instead.

I will show you how to do that.

 As you can see in the picture below, the blue string is short

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Take a new string and tie a knot on it (it will be used to attach the string).

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Attach the new string to the left side of your work.

Make the bracelet so that the blue  string ties a knot. Here: the forward knot tied on the red string.

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Move the shorter string to the left beneath. You may hold it or pin it with a safety pin.

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Move the new string on the place of the shorter one and tie a knot with this string as it is shown in the pattern. Here: the forward knot

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Make the following part of the bracelet with the new string.

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Continue with the pinned strings. Just in case.

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After making several rows, turn your work to fix the ends of the strings up. It is good to tie them together and put some glue on them. They will be secured from fraying. I tied a double knot.

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Pull the bracelet to the different sides.

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And it is done. You can see anything after attaching a new string on the right side.

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How to finish off your bracelet

There is plenty of ways to finish off a bracelet. Everything depends on your imagination and taste.

I will show you two ways:

if you make a loop at the beginning, e.g. you may make two plaits. I made my bracelet using 4 strings, so this is how the finishing off looks like:

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If you want to attach the end caps, cut the ending of the strings. Cut also the cord that the strings are attached to (on both sides). Put some glue on the end caps and stick the strings.

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How to tie a bracelet on your wrist

I often hear that the friendship bracelet untie very quickly so that you can lose them easily. I mean here, the most common version of finishing off: a loop and plaits. Right, it still can be lost. I will show you how to tie a knot that doesn’t untie and if you pull it, it gets tightened.

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Put the right end over the left one.

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Pass the right end up through the loop. The right end is on the left now.

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Continue working with this end. Place it over the second end (that is on the right now) and pass down through the loop.

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And that’s it. This basic knowledge is enough to create something beautiful by yourself. Bracelets made of cords don’t need to be boring! Don’t forget to give your bracelets to your close ones. Not without reason, they are called friendship bracelets.

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