Rainbow Loom fever is upon us…but if you can’t get hold of any at the moment or you are looking to make something a bit different then why not make a friendship bracelet with embroidery thread.
With the World Cup fast approaching you could even chose to make it from the colours of your favourite team and with Father’s Day round the corner why not make your Dad a bracelet to show him you care.
Friendship bracelets have been made for hundreds of years and there are lots of patterns to chose from or you can invent your own. They are made by making knots in a certain order, usually with different colours, and repeating the process. Here are a few examples to get you started by learning the main techniques and a few patterns.
You Will Need
- Embroidery threads or yarns (at least 4 different colours and approximately 80cm long)
- Paper, card and cellotape or a safety pin (for securing the bracelet as you make it)
- Toggle, beads or buttons (optional to add to your bracelet)
Techniques needed to make a bracelet
To make a friendship bracelet you will need to know the following techniques – although not all of the techniques will be needed to make all the bracelets.
Preparing your threads
Friendship bracelets can be made from any number of threads, but it is usual to be between 4 and 10, the more threads you use the thicker or wider the bracelet. You will need to cut your threads to the same length (generally around 80cm) and hold them together at the top and using all the threads fold them into a knot.
Now you can secure your thread using either cellotape above the knot on card to hold the threads down, or you can tie them around a safety pin and attach the safety pin to a cushion or something similar which will hold your threads securely. Get pins ready as it is useful to pin your bracelet down to keep it secure as your bracelet grows.
There are two knots you need to know.
The forward knot – this is generally used when working your threads from the left hand side to the right hand side. If you have two threads of different colour, the colour of the knot created will be the same as the colour of the thread on the left. Your threads will also end up swapping places.
This knot is also called a ‘4’ knot as you make the number 4 when you make the knot. You can practice the 4 knot by taking two threads. Take the thread on the left and leaving some slack in the thread take it over the thread to the right (creating the 4 shape) and then under the same thread bring your original thread up through the loop, hold it to the right as you hold the underneath thread tight and pull up your thread to the top to create a knot.
The backward knot – this is the mirror image of the forward knot and is generally used when working your threads from right to left. If you have two threads of different colour, the colour of the knot created will be the same as the colour of the thread on the right. Your threads will also end up swapping places.
You will need to create a backward 4 shape using the thread on the right. Leave some slack in the thread on the right and take it over the thread on the left and then under the same thread bringing it up through the loop and holding the thread on the left pull up the knot with the right thread to the top.
The braided bracelet is the simplest to make and uses the forward knot technique throughout. I used four threads, all different colours.
Prepare your threads as described above.
Pick one thread and do 8 forward knots over all the other threads held together.
Now pick another colour and repeat the process until you have used all the threads once and then repeat the colour pattern.
When you are happy that your bracelet is long enough, tie the end into a knot.
See below for techniques to finish your bracelet.
I used six threads, three colours x 2.
Spread your threads out in the colour sequence you would like your stripes.
Now start with the furthest thread on the left and do a forward knot followed by another forward knot over the thread next to it. Your first thread will now have swapped places. Using this same first thread do another two forward knots over the next thread. The thread will again have swapped places again, repeat the process all along the row of threads until your first thread becomes the furthest thread on the right.
Now start again with the thread on the left and do the same process of double knots along each thread until it is on the far right of all the threads.
Keep repeating with all the threads until your bracelet is the required length.
See below for techniques to finish your bracelet.
I used eight threads to make this bracelet, four colours x 2.
Lay out your threads so from the central point the threads are a mirror image by their colour.
Start with the left thread and do two forward knots on the next thread to it’s right. Repeat using the same first thread knotting on it’s next right thread as it moves along the row until your thread reaches the middle point. At this point leave your thread in the middle.
Now you are going to mirror the same process using your threads to the right of the middle point. Pick up the furthest right hand thread and use two backward knots on the thread to the left. The threads will then have swapped over. Continue with this first thread to work it into the middle by double knotting each thread individually to it’s left as it moves along the row into the middle point. Stop when your thread is in the middle and to the right of the thread which you moved to the middle point in Step 2.
You will now have both of the original outside threads of the same colour in the middle. With the right of the two middle threads do two backward knots over the left of the two middle threads.
Now start the process again. Repeat until your bracelet is the required length. See below for techniques to finish your bracelet.
I used eight threads, 2 x four colours.
Lay the threads out with four colours followed by the four colours in reverse (from the middle point the colours are the mirror image of each other).
Begin by taking the two middle threads (which are the same colour) and do two backward knots with the right of the two threads over the left thread.
Now take the next two threads on either side of the middle two threads. With the one to the left of the middle threads do two forward knots over the left of the middle threads, i.e. the thread to its right.
With the right thread to the two original middle threads do two backward knots over the right of the middle threads, i.e. the thread to its left. You will now have two new same colour threads in the middle with your original middle threads on either side of your new middle threads. With the right of the two new middle threads do two backward double knots.
Now move to the next row of colours out, so the row of threads either side of the original two middle thread colours. Repeat the above process by moving both threads from their position by double forward knots, for the left thread, and double backward knots for the right thread until they are both in the middle.
When they are both in the middle use the right of the two to do two backward knots over the left of the two threads.
Now move again to the next row out (which in this case where you have used eight threads is the outside thread) and repeat the previous process by moving both outside threads from their position by double forward knots, for the left thread, and double backward knots for the right thread until they are both in the middle.
When they are both in the middle use the right of the two do to do two backward knots over the left of the two threads.
Repeat steps 2 – 6 until your bracelet is the required length.
Techniques for finishing your bracelet
Tie both ends with a knot and knot together your bracelet, trimming the ends to your desired length.
Top Tip: If you leave the ends slightly longer then you have the option of making the bracelet looser at a later date if you want to.
Before tying a knot you can add a bead to the end of your bracelet by feeding it through the threads at one end.
When initially preparing your threads and tying and knot at the top, leave a loop (the size of your button) above the knot. When you have finished your bracelet and have tied a big knot at the bottom take a button and tie it on using a few of the threads, cut the other threads down. Then your button is held in place at the bottom of your bracelet and can be pushed through your initial loop at the top of your bracelet to be held in place around your wrist.
When you have finished your bracelet you can plait the ends (as you would hair) and then add a little knot at the bottom.
Once you have tied off the end of your bracelet with a knot, loop a few of the threads through one end of your toggle, tie a knot and cut the loose ends off. Do the same with the top of your bracelet and the other end of the toggle.
Now you have finished your bracelet
With your bracelet complete you can either keep it for yourself or give it to your friend. If you have lots of friends then hopefully these four different patterns will help you ensure they all get something different and if you use different coloured threads and a different number of threads for each bracelet then your friends (or yourself) really are getting something individual and special.
Top tip: Why not share your completed friendship bracelet with us on Make of The Month.