Ready to learn how to make your own friendship bracelets? I’m so excited to teach you the basic skills and techniques needed. If you want specific ideas, check out these DIY friendship bracelet patterns for all skill levels. This post contains affiliate links.
Friendship bracelets are so relaxing to make and was a true outlet for me from when I was a young tween.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to make your own friendship bracelets, starting with some basic knots.
A few friendship bracelet making tips:
Start with a very basic bracelet to practice your knot.
Cutting your string: most people advise measuring from your shoulder to your fingertips for most basic bracelets. I usually add a little to that just in case. You also might want to add if you’re making yours really wide.
Use a system that works best for you. Some people find it best to safety pin the bracelet to their clothing as they work. Some like to work off a clipboard, and some tape it to a surface. Maybe it’s my long fingers, but I find that I work best just holding it in my hands.
Start your bracelets with 2-3 colors per bracelet. Try more elaborate colors once you get the hang.
You’ll have neater results if you complete a bracelet in one session, because the tension of your knots will be more consistent, in line with your energy levels, mood, etc. But this can also cause strain. So if you want gorgeous results, do what you can in once session, but be careful not to overdo it.
Finishing off your friendship bracelets:
There are so many ways to do this! I love finishing it off with cord ends:
The more common way is the “knot braid knot” method. This lets you tie it and open it up more easily.
To do this, simply knot your strands together.
Split them into three groups.
Do a simple braid, and finish with a knot.
If you want a simpler approach, you can simply knot it, and wear it until it wears itself off your hand! Just make sure to leave enough space to knot it comfortably.
You’ll see on some of these I used an ombre floss with variated color – don’t let that confuse you!
The two knots you need to know to make your own friendship bracelets:
Forward Knot – Take the string on the left, wrap it over and behind the next string(s). And then bring it back through itself. You’re knotting the left around the right.
Backward Knot – Take the string on the right, wrap it over and behind the next string(s). And then bring it back over the same string. You’re knotting the right around the left.
Each stitch that you see on the design is made up of two knots. That means that you’re doing two forward knots or two backward knots to make your “stitch.”
When you need to take your working string back to the position that it was in before, you’re going to alternate your knot.
So you’ll either make a backward forward knot, or a forward backward knot. This is a double knot made up of both a forward knot and then a backward knot, or vice versa.
What you need to make your own friendship bracelets:
Friendship bracelets are so cool because all you really need is some embroidery floss and scissors. I recommend getting a pack like this one with loads of colors for starters, and then if you want, upgrading to better brands, and more specific shades as you improve your skill.
First bracelet: the Chinese Staircase bracelet:
The Chinese Staircase bracelet always fascinated me. All you’re doing is repeating forward knots, and a cool spiral forms. It’s almost like magic!
I always recommend that beginners start with the Chinese Staircase friendship bracelet, because it’s a good way to get used to the motion of making the knots. They’re great for stacking with more elaborate designs, and so simple that younger kids can make them too.
I taught M, age 6.5 (and not so crafty) how to do this the other day. His results weren’t quite so neat, but they were functional, and with practice he’ll improve!
How many strands do you need for the Chinese Staircase friendship bracelet?
For this tutorial, I used four strands in two colors. You can start with six if you prefer, but I’d only recommend going past that once you’ve made it once or twice.
To start, you can either knot, braid, knot as I’ll demonstrate with the next bracelet, or you can simply knot. I also sometimes like to fold over strands to make a “buttonhole” when I’m using duplicates of the same color.
1. Take one of the strands from your first color, separate it from the rest, toward the left, and bundle the rest together to the right. Tie a single forward knot with your working string around the rest of the others.
Pull it tight toward the top of your bracelet, holding the inside strings taught as you pull your working string up.
2. Keep making forward knots this way. As you work, you’ll see the spiral start to appear.
3. Make 10-20 of the same color (whatever looks good to you). Keeping with one color for longer will show more of a consistent spiral, but you may prefer the look of switching more frequently.
4. When you’re ready to switch colors, simply pull out the next color from the center bundle, and join the previous with the center bundle. Start knotting with your new working string.
5. Repeat this process until it’s long enough. When you have two strands of each color, make sure you’re alternating which one of each color you use (if relevant, choose the longer one) so that you’re spreading it out and don’t run out of one color.
Your Chinese staircase friendship bracelet is complete!
Candy Stripe Friendship Bracelet: to practice the forward knot:
Watch how “stitches” form with your double knots. This basic striped bracelet can be made as wide as you want, but I recommend doing your first with 5-6 strands. You can double your strands, do 2 of each color, or do totally different colors.
1. After starting your bracelet, separate it into the order you’d like your stripes to be.
2. Take your leftmost strand and forward knot around the one next to it.
Hold the center strand taught as pull your working strand toward the top.
3. Repeat to make a double forward knot.
You should see your first “stitch” appear. The first row sometimes doesn’t come out so straight and sort of disappears toward the top – don’t worry about that. When you get to the second you’ll see it more clearly.
4. Complete your first row by double knotting the same working strand around each string in your bracelet, until it becomes the last in the row.
5. Take your new left-most strand and repeat this process. Make double knots around each of the strings to its right, until it reaches the end.
Keep repeating this process…
Until your bracelet is big enough! Finish it off with your choice of method.
Chevron Friendship Bracelet Pattern: to practice the forward and backward knot:
Moving onward, the Chevron friendship bracelet is another classic. This one shows you how the design shifts when you move in a different direction.
My recommendation is to do your first one with 6 strands (3 colors) and move onward when you’re comfortable with it.
1. For this bracelet, you’ll want two of every color you use. Split your strands in half, with one of each color on each side. Your two sides should mirror each other – so the two outer strands are the same, the two inner the same, etc.
Remember that I used an ombre floss, so my pink and red are really the same color strand, as is the light and dark blue.
2. Start it off like the candy stripe. Start with the string on the left. Make two forward knots around each strand in that half, stop when your working strand reaches the center.
Again, your first row won’t really look so clear, but it’ll show up when you continue.
3. Now take your RIGHTmost strand and make a backward knot on the one to its left. Make a second backward knot to form your stitch.
4. Continue and make two backward knots around all the strands in that half of your bracelet (I only have two) until it reaches the center and meets the other one of the same color.
5. Forward or backward knot one around the other of the same color, and repeat. It doesn’t matter which you do around which. This completes your first row and forms the point of the V.
6. Continue with the next color – double forward knotting the left strand around the ones to its right, until you reach the center, and double backward knotting the right strand around the ones to its left until you reach the center.
And then tie one of the center ones around the other to complete your V.
7. Keep on going until your bracelet is the right size!
Next level friendship bracelets:
There are so many more bracelets to be made once you make these three!
I have a few that I created and shared here.
This very easy friendship bracelet pattern is a great way to get your feet wet with forward/backward and backward/forward knots, without complex patterns.
When you’re ready to move on and learn how to make a beaded friendship bracelet you’ll see just how sophisticated friendship bracelets can look!
And my favorite ever is the ombre zig zag friendship bracelet pattern that looks so 3 dimensional because of the color trick I used.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make your own friendship bracelets! Do you have a favorite pattern? Comment below!