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Sunday
Jul102011

Molly's Sketchbook: Friendship Bracelets

Macraméd friendship bracelets were all the rage when I was growing up in the eighties. All the girls at my school would obsessively make them for one another in a dizzying variety of colors, widths, and patterns. It's amazing, thinking back, that such young girls could make such beautifully intricate accessories.

I, of course,  tried my hand at making them as well. I would ride my bike down to the five-and-dime store and pick out the most sophisticated color combinations of  embroidery floss I could find, but when it came to the actual macramé I never got beyond plain stripes. There was nothing wrong with plain stripes, except that the other girls seemed so much more advanced with their diamonds and chevrons. A bit intimidated,  I never did become a big friendship bracelet expert.

Fast forward 20 years: Purl Soho started carrying DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss in every conceivable color (including fluorescents! ) and so, clearly, my time with friendship bracelets had finally come! After a bit of research, I discovered that what had eluded me as a child is actually really simple. It turns out that there are only two major friendship bracelet knots, a right knot and a left knot. That's it. After all these years, they only took me a few minutes to learn!

Making friendship bracelets is a  surprisingly easy craft, and best of all, in the end you'll have a bunch of cute summer bracelets to give to your pals. These are also a great thing to make with kids because they don't require any pins, needles, or scissors, and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want. Once you learn the basics there's no limit to the beautiful patterns you can create!

Materials

Since this is such a free form enterprise the amount of colors of DMC embroidery floss you get is really up to you. We used a package of the DMC Light Effects Fluorescent Embroidery Floss and then picked our individual colors around them. Here is a list of the individual colors we used: Ecru, Blanco, 155, 156, 157, 307, 445, 453, 606, 648, 666, 712, 746, 906, 907, 956, 3033, 3761, 3843. For our full selection of DMC Embroidery Floss click here and for the fluorescent pack click here.

Please not that the fluorescent thread is slightly thicker than the regular DMC floss. So if you are mixing the two together it works best if you pull out and discard one ply of the fluorescent thread.

Beginning

To begin, pick out your colors. For the purposes of this how-to and the following patterns each color will be assigned a number.

For patterns use a doubled length of thread cut each color to a length of 72-inches. Hold the cut pieces together, fold them in half, and then make a 3/4-inch long slip knot at the fold.

Using a safety pin pin the loop to your jeans (or any other stable piece of fabric that you don't mind getting holes in) to keep it steady.

Arrange the threads as instructed in the pattern. In the example above the thread order would be: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1

For patterns that use a single length of thread cut a 36-inch length from each color. Arrange the pieces in the proper order. Leaving a 6-inch tail, tie a simple overhand knot to start.

The Left Knot

Place a piece of thread  (in this case thread #1) over the piece thread to its right (in this case thread #2) in a sort of a "4" shape as shown above

Pull the end of the thread through this "4" loop creating a knot.

While holding the right thread taut pull up the left thread to form a tight knot as shown above. Repeat once more. Both the Left and Right Knots are actually made up of two knots each.

If you are tying more than one Left Knot in a row you will use the same thread (in this case thread #1) to tie the subsequent knots along the a row from left to right.

Right Knot

The right knot is made in the same manner as the left but in the opposite direction.

Place a piece of thread over its left hand neighbor in the "P" shape shown above.


Pull the thread's end through the "P" to form a knot.

While pulling the left thread tightly down pull the right thread up to form a taut knot. Repeat this once to make a full Right Knot. Remember both the left and right knots are actually made up of two knots each.

If you are tying more than one Right Knot in a row you will use the same thread (in this case thread 1) to tie the subsequent knots along the row from right to left.

Ending

There are a couple of good ways to end your friendship bracelets.

To end a bracelet that starts with a loop separate the threads into two equal groups. Braid each group and tie a knot at the end trimming the ends to be neat and short.

To wear pull the ends though the starting loop and tie a knot.

To end a bracelet that starts with a knot tie another knot at the end of the macramé. Braid both ends and tied knots. Trim to ends to look neat.

To wear tie the ends together in a bow.

Patterns:

Basic Stripes

1. Use a single length of thread and any amount of colors you like. Arrange the color in a pleasing order.

2. Starting at the far left tie a row of Left Knots using the 1st color across the whole width of the bracelet.

3. Repeat step 2 until the bracelet is the desired length.

Chevron

1. Using doubled thread and at least 3 colors arrange the threads in a mirror image. For instance, if you were using six colors as in the example above  you would arrange the threads like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

2. Starting at the far left side make a row of left knots stopping in the middle of the bracelet when the colors start repeating. For instance, in the six color example above you would tie five left knots.

3. Starting at the far right side tie a row of right knots to the middle. When you get to the middle of the bracelet you will meet up with the thread from step 2. Tie this with a right knot as well. You will always be tying one more knot in step 3 than in step 2. For instance in the six color example above you would tie six right knots in step 3.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the bracelet is the desired length.

As another option you can change the arrangement of the threads in step one to make a more varied and braided looking bracelet.

Diamonds

The diamond shape is the most complicated one I tackled so here are a step by step instructions to make a 4 color bracelet. Once you get the idea with the 4 color version you explore thinner or wider versions as well.

Here are the four threads and their corresponding numbers.

Using doubled strands start the bracelet with a loop and arrange the colors in a mirror image: colors 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Start by tying a left knot with both strands of color 4 in the center.

Please note, these photos start at the middle of the bracelet just because it's easier to see the pattern that way.

Then, starting with the right hand thread 4 strand tie a row of 3 left knots as shown above.

Next take the other thread 4 strand from the middle and tie a row three right knots as shown above. This shape will be called the upside down "V" in this pattern.

In this same manner make upside down "V"s with colors 3, 2, and 1 always starting from the center and moving out.

When you get back to color 4 make a left knot in the center.

Using the right hand piece of thread 4 make a right knot with the thread directly to the right.

Using the left hand piece of thread 4 make a left knot with the thread directly to the left.

Tie the two color 4 pieces together with a left knot.

With color 1 make a "V" shape just as you would for the chevron pattern: Starting from the far left side tie a row of 3 left knots. Then, starting from the far right side tie a row of 4 right knots to form the "V" shape.

Make another "V" shape with color 2.

Starting at the far left tie two left knots with color 3.

Starting at the far right side tie two right knots with color 3.

At the far left side tie a right knot with color 4.

At the far right side tie a left knot with color 4.

With the left strand of color 3 tie two right knots in a row to the strands of colors 1 and 4 directly the left.

Do the reverse for the other side: with the right strand of color 3 tie two left knots.

Tie an upside down "V" shape with color 2.

Tie an upside down "V" shape starting with color 1.

Now you're back at the beginning.

Repeat this until the bracelet is the desired length.

Once you get the hang of all the patterns you can mix and match them like we did in the green bracelet above.

 

Reader Comments (108)

How many string of each color did you use for the pink and gray diamond bracelet?
June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
Thanks for the tutorial. I already know how to make the first one but will definitely try the second one. I love the colors you used too. You can see my chevron and my other bracelets like zig zags and cupcakes on my website. Thanks again for the tutorial.
June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB
Hi Melaine-

It's 5 total colors, 3 doubled strands of the grey and then one doubled strand of each of the pink/ orange colors. You'll be working with 8 doubled strands total so that's 16 working pieces of string.

Thanks for your question!

Molly
June 11, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am going to my 25 year reunion in a few weeks! Wouldn't it be fun to take these? Blast from the past! And remember friendship pins? Did you do those? So fun!
July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTami
Great tutorial!
Molly, I am wondering what colours did you use for the multi-coloured chevron? It looks so bright and cheery!
August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHolly
Hi Holly.
Great question.
I am not totally sure which colors we used for that bracelet. I can tell you it has a bright blue and a light blue, a grey, a red, a green, a yellow, a pink, Blanc, neon yellow, neon orange and neon pink.
I hope this helps.
Laura
August 22, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Dear Molly
Please check for me if in the second sentence below - under Diamond pattern - it shouldn't read color 1 instead of color 3. Thanks very much!

"Tie an upside down "V" shape with color 2.

Tie an upside down "V" shape starting with color 3.

Now you're back at the beginning."
August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCristina
Cristina.
Thank you so much! You are absolutely right. I am going to fix the pattern now!
Thanks again.
Laura
August 29, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi! the moment I saw your post on StumbleUpon I immediately want to make my own. It's really great you shared this tutorial. I'll definitely make my own. Can I make a post on my blog about making this friendship bracelet and put links to your site? I'd be happy if you'll allow me to. Thanks!
September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMisselayneous
Hi Misselayneous-

You are welcome to post about making these bracelets as long as you link directly to this story for the actual instructions. Please let us know if you have any more questions and thanks for getting in touch!

Molly
September 14, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Your friendship bracelets look really cool! Thanks so much for the tutorial :D
September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSophie
I used to make friendship bracelets as a kid! I now make them for my kids and niece. I have been working a the leaf pattern, the only thing is that the whole left side of bracelet looks like the back of the candy stripe bracelets!
October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
I have a quick question. How long does the string have to be?
-Samantha
December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha
Hi Samantha-

The proper lengths are listed in the "beginning" section of this pattern.

Thank you!

Molly
December 2, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I used to make these all the time as a kid and have now decided to start making them again, only I'm having problems with it curling on the right side, which makes it hard to tell which thread I'm at. I never used to have this problem when I was younger.
December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColleen
I really like this blog and thank you so much for posting those woolen friendship bracelets, I'm 11 and have a blog http://bethanyelizabeth10.wordpress.com/ and I've been looking how to make these bracelets for ever!!!
December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
hi I was wondering where you bought the embroidery floss because i love these colors
January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersydney
Hi Sydney-

We sell all of the materials we use in all of our projects from our webstore: purlsoho.com They are linked below in red below the "Materials" section of any pattern.

For this project the floss can be found here: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8232-DMC-Embroidery-Floss

And here:
http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8233-DMC-Light-Effects-Fluorescent-Floss-Pack

Thanks so much for writing in!

Molly
January 28, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I know that you can also do heart shapes that look really cute! And are good for valentines day! Just look them up or Celtic heart which is a simple heart shape knot for a bracelet or necklace!
B xoxo
February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterB
Hi B-

We actually have a heart friendship bracelet pattern! You can see it here: http://www.purlbee.com/valentines-friendship-bracelet/

Thanks for writing in!

Molly
February 3, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I only recently learned to make chevron, but I'd never seen diamonds before! thx!
February 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous
This is a very simple and easy tutorial to follow. Very explanatory and with the pictures and all, but the bracaelts are done very loose. I've been making friendship bracelets for a while now, and these three are the beginner bracelets, so it's good that they're went over here. However, I feel its important for all beginners to remember to tie the knots nice and tight for a much cleaner and more professional look. I have been making and selling a variety of these bracelets for w hile now, and it is definetely a fun and cheap hobby to take up. Not to mention, extremely profitable. More difficult patterns do take some time, though.
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKayla
no entendi Nada :S... Pero me gustaria saber el nombre del hilo :) de igual Buen post
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKyB
zig-zag bracelets are one of my favorites, and super easy to make. Just start out with normal stripes going right for a few lines for the zig and then start the zag by going left for the same amount of lines and repeat from the start! they come out really pretty and they're a great way to practice the knots

Margaret


P.S. the points of the turns will curl so make sure you block them once you finished tying
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercreideamh
Thank you for the detailed instructions! What length thread would you recommend using for a little girl's (5 year's old) bracelet?
April 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Hi Carrie-

I would still use an 18-inch length of thread just to be safe. You can always trim it later.

Thank you so much for your kind words about this project and please let us know if you have any more questions!

Molly
April 2, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
When me and my friends made them in the 80's we used a clipboard to secure the string! Made it fun and portable!
April 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersweetsiren
Hi! Thank you so much for these patterns! they are beautiful!!! :) I have one question though, how many strings do you use for the wider diamond bracelet?? do you just double? Thank You!
May 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarahliz
Hi Sarahliz-

It is just double- it's 8 strands.

Thank you for your question and for your kind words!

Best-

Molly
May 9, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi, I know how to do the basic chevrons, but was wondering how you do the one that is second to the right in your photo, with the non matching adjacent color.
May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
Hi Hannah-

There is a brief description of that bracelet at the end of the chevron pattern. It's done exactly like the regular chevron bracelet but you mix up the order of the threads in the first step so that they are in a random order.

Thank you for your question!

Molly
May 14, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Wow this really helped thanks!
May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCool
I LOVE this article!! This was very helpful, as I need to see the steps AND read it.
Thank you for posting this!!!
May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMadelyn O'Meara
Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! So easy to follow, I will definitely make some for me and my friends :) Love your blog!
May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBaiba
Wow thanks so much!!! I just tried this for the first time after failing at other tutorials so I'm really happy I came across one that actually makes sense (:
June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
Thanks for the great tutorial! I saw these at an Indian powwow in Chicago and I always wanted to know how to make them. Thanks a lot really cool!
June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjeanjacketgirl<3
um hello i realy know that i can do this but im broke and my parents dont want to buy me strings:( and i just wanted to ask were they sell them cheap that i can aford
June 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterany
i have a bracelet maker kit its like a clipboard that is specifically made to make a braclet. Would it be OK if I use it instead of a safety pin.
June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterabby
Dear Abby-

That would certainly be fine.

Thank you!

Molly
June 25, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
oh my gosh so cute!!!!!! awesome but i need thread i have miles of yarn but only 2 feet of thread can i use yarn
June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterViolet
Hi Violet-

Sure! You can use yarn! Thanks for getting in touch!

Molly
July 1, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This was amazing! I've been making friendship bracelets for years but was never able to figure out the diamond pattern. Thanks for the tutorial!
August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria
Hello! Thank you for this great tutorial! Looks super fun, cute and simple. Just wondering, though, did you really mean to say to cut 72 inches? I measured it out,
and that's really long. But anyway, thank you, thank you! I'm dying to try these!
August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLily
Hi Lily-

Yes 72-inches is correct. You then fold the thread in half so you're working with 36-inch lengths. Thanks for your question!

Molly
August 22, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
i am in love
October 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersara
How do you do the cross bit??? you only told me what i already know! how do you do the actual crosses?!
November 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKat
Hi Kat-

I'm not sure I understand your question. The full patterns for all of the bracelets can be found above. It sounds like you'd like to make the Diamond Pattern bracelet. Please let me know if you have any specific questions about the instructions.

Thanks for getting in touch!

Molly
November 25, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Great guide! Sometimes when I'm tying the knots I will move on to then next and then when I go back to look at the row, in one or two knots the wrong color is showing! Any suggestions?
December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNikko
Hi Nikko-

The only thing I can think of is to make sure that the knots are tight and not showing the thread underneath. Sorry we can't be of more help!

Thank you fro writing in!

Molly
December 8, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
my name is Getinet.from addis ababa Ethiopia.i just began bracelets friendship.i got the material now.but who can each me through video(Skype) or any other method?iam waiting your response.
Thank you
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergetinet

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