Learn how to make various friendship bracelets with minimal supplies! Start with simple designs and advance to more intricate ones.
To get started, you need will need:
- Embroidery floss or other colorful string (sock yarn, etc)
- Tape or safety pin
- Pin, needle, or safety pin for fixing mistakes
This one is fun and fast to make. Start with three strings a little over a meter or yard long, then fold them in half and tie a knot at the loose ends.
Tape or pin the knot to something secure, and arrange the loops on your first and second fingers as shown– two on one side and one on the other.
Start with whichever hand only has one loop, and weave your next finger through the loops on your other hand, grabbing the last loop and pulling it through.
Reposition the single loop to your first finger and repeat on the other side, pulling tight in between each stitch.
The downside to this type of bracelet is that it’s hard to put it down and pick it back up again without messing up the pattern– it’s best done in a single sitting. Which isn’t too hard, since it goes pretty fast.
When it’s as long as you like, tie off the loops with a knot.
You can easily scale up this design by adding more strings, up to seven if you have the typical number of fingers. Just use your free finger to weave through the loops on the other hand, grab the last one and pull tight, then move all the remaining loops up one finger and repeat on the other side.
The Spiral Staircase
Start with as many strings as you like, each about twice as long as you want your bracelet to be, or four times longer if you want a loop at the starting end (as shown here).
Make a knot and tape or pin it in place.
Then, separate one strand from the rest and begin making overhand knots tying the single string around the rest, one after another. Lefties, you can make these to the left if you prefer.
They will naturally tend to stack up slightly offset from each other. After a few, you’ll notice the whole thing wanting to twist, so you should feed the working thread behind the core every once in a while to help the spiral take shape.
To switch colors, just select a different working thread and put the previous one back into the core. Pay attention to where the first knot of a new color lands, and guide it next to sit just below the previous knot.
This bracelet is easy because all the knots are the same, and you can switch to any color at any time. Be careful not to use up all of any one thread before the final length is achieved. No special finishing is required to complete the bracelet.
The Diagonal Stripe
This one also only uses overhand knots. Start with your preferred number of strings, either all different colors or doubled over to create a loop. They should be about two to three times longer than your final bracelet. Splay out the strings in order, and pick up the one on the left side, if you’re right-handed.
Tie this working thread in two overhand knots on each other thread, in order, until you reach the other side.
Repeat with the next string, stacking up rows of overhand knots with each color, which will naturally take a diagonal pattern. The more strings, the wider your bracelet will be, and also naturally the strings will have to be longer to start with, too.
Start out with two strings of each color and splay them out so the color order is symmetrical.
For this one, we’ll introduce a second type of knot. The left side of the chevron will be formed with the same right-facing overhand knots you have been using for the spiral staircase and the diagonal stripe bracelets, two per string, but the right side will be formed with underhand knots made the opposite way, such that their tail faces to the left.
In the middle, you can make either kind of knot– it doesn’t matter.
In my observation, this left-facing knot has more variation in how folks like to make it than the right-facing knot, and not just for lefties. Some prefer to make this knot with their left hand. I happen to be extremely right-handed, so I prefer making it with my right hand. When you’re learning, experiment to find out what works best for you.
All rows in the chevon bracelet pattern are the same, and the colors alternate in sequential order. Using more strands of the same color will result in fatter stripes, and will require longer strings to achieve the desired length.
Starting and Finishing Bracelets
Now that you know both of these main knots, you can get fancy with the way you start and finish your friendship bracelets.
Making the Starting Loop
To make a fancy loop at the start of your bracelet, cut one strand about 10 centimeters longer than the rest, then tape your strands down just a little bit off-center, with the longer portion facing you.
Use this extra long strand to alternate creating right-facing knots and left-facing knots around the core to build up a section as long as you like. This is sort of like the spiral staircase, except the alternating keeps the knots from spiraling.
Untape it and fold the knotted section in half to begin your bracelet.
The other way I’ve seen folks start this out is by finding the center of the longer string and looping it around the center of the rest of the strings.
The Buckle Loop
This is where you take your two outermost strings and create a knot between them that encapsulates the rest of the strings. It’s best for thinner bracelets since it cinches all the strings together.
The Teardrop Loop
This method is better for wider bracelets. Basically, you’ll tie knots with each string in color order around the remaining strings, and set each one down afterward.
But there’s a new type of knot combo here we haven’t covered yet. Instead of two right- or left-facing knots, on the right side I’m making a left-facing knot followed by a right-facing knot, we’ll call that a “left-right knot,” and on the other side I’m making “right-left knots.”
When only one string is left on each side, tie the two center strings together using whichever knots you like. Now you’re ready to begin your bracelet pattern.
On the left side, pick up the third string from the outer edge and tie two left-facing knots around the two strings to the left of it.
Join all three strings together and repeat tying each next string around the growing bundle until you reach the center. On the right side, do the same. Pick up the third string from the edge and tie two right-facing knots around the two strings, then join and repeat with the next.
Once you have completed the triangle, you can braid your ends into one or two ties.
Or, for another option, twist both halves independently while the bracelet is anchored, then pick up the whole thing and let them twist around each other, and tie a knot to keep the twist.
To wear your bracelet, it’s easiest to have a friend put it on you.
Eventually, you’ll make a wrong move and want to undo it. The easiest way I’ve found is to use a straight pin or sewing needle to pick at the stitches until they loosen. You can also use a safety pin but it’s a little thicker and a little less pointy.
This pattern starts with four strings of each color, and a row of the chevron pattern to start out.
Then pick up the second string from the edge and make two knots on each, facing the corresponding way. Repeat this on the other side.
Next tie any knot combo you like between the two strings of the same color that are now next to each other, one set on each side, then use those same strings to keep knotting in the directions they are facing, so the outer ones have knots facing out and the inner ones have knots facing in, and then they join in the center.
The next row fills in the heart with the contrasting color, so join each pair of like-color strings with double knots and then bring those inner strings together, knotting along the way.
Finish up the heart with one row of chevron in the heart color, then one row of chevron in the contrast color before repeating the heart again.
You’ll start with two of each color string. The color that you choose for the Xs that go through the pattern should be almost twice as long as the rest of your string since it’ll be used up more quickly by the pattern.
This pattern only uses left-facing and right-facing knots, and if you do arrange the colors in order from light to dark or dark to light, it results in this neat three-dimensional-looking pattern.
Finding Other Patterns
Now that you’ve got the hang of the basics, you can apply them to any pattern you find online. If a pattern seems too difficult for you at first, come back to it after a bit more practice and try again.
There are lots of free pattern resources out there. Here are some of my favorites:
I love that you can take this craft project with you and work on it almost anywhere, and also the way it feels for friends to enjoy their bracelets.
You may be interested in some of my other work: