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Zipper Stitch Lanyard Boondoggle Tutorial

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If you enjoyed making the gimp bracelets I shared last year, this zipper stitch lanyard is the perfect follow up! I made it as a keychain, however the flat stitch can be turned into bracelets too. This post contains affiliate links.


zipper stitch lanyard on backpacks

When it comes to summer camp crafts for teens – or big kids – “boondoggle” lanyard or gimp is always a hit. I remember walking around with these in our pockets, as we worked on them incrementally while sitting in the sun.

We called them lanyards whether we were making actual lanyards, bracelets, or key fobs.

The zipper stitch totally looks like a zipper and is insanely easy.

A boondoggle is a useless item or task that gives the appearance of having value. Well, you do get value while making this zipper stitch lanyard – because it’s fun! But totally useless.

Frankly, I created these simply so that I can teach you how to do this with your kids (M would love to learn but doesn’t have the patience to follow through with even a simple project like this. Y will probably do it when he’s a bit bigger).

But I placed one on each of their backpacks after they went to sleep and they were excited to see them when they woke up! I love little surprises like this. Kids can also make it as little handouts just to make a friend smile.

I love zipper stitch lanyard because it’s a flat, flexible stitch when made with soft lacing. That makes it great for bracelets, mask chains, and actual lanyards – as opposed to box stitches – which work well for key fobs but aren’t flexible enough to turn into wearables.

Zipper stitch lanyard is also a fantastic lanyard design for beginners!

You do need a little dexterity as it doesn’t hold at each stitch like when you knot, or weave layer by layer, however it is a really simple weave.

It can be done with more threads however it does get much more difficult, especially to start.

Before I teach you how to make a zipper stitch lanyard, I must apologize for my photo quality! Ever since Princess A was born, our small two bedroom apartment has been overrun with bouncer, car seats, and other gear, in addition to the boys’ toys! So pulling out my lights to get you better photos has been challenging.

I don’t want to let that stop me from getting tutorials and ideas out to you, so I’m working with what I have!

Let’s just say I’m aiming for a mindset of “better done and imperfect than not done”.

So I hope you enjoy making your zipper stitch lanyard – or a dozen of them!

What you need to make a zipper stitch boondoggle:

  • Plastic lacing. You’ll want something very soft to get a secure knot. This is available in many package sizes and types. Here are a few
    • Rexlace in a basic kit with basic colors
    • A kit with the same thin bundles but much more color options
    • Larger spools, great for if you’re doing group crafting rather than buying for your own couple of children
    • Round transparent lacing like I used in one design here is very very cool. However, it’s more difficult for beginners to work with and much more stiff. I found mine at a local discount store.
  • Hooks or key rings (often comes with the lacing so check how much you’re getting with your cord)
  • Totally optional: hot glue gun

How to zipper stitch lanyard:

1. Cut three pieces of lanyard. One should be about arms length, the other two about half that. You can use the same color for the short ones or different colors. Knot them together about an inch from the top, with the two short ones grouped and the long one to the side, and pull tight.

Keep in mind that the length is just a recommendation to start with. You’ll need much much longer if you’re making a lanyard or shorter for a key fob. Once you make a few, you’ll get a better idea of what you need for each project.

2. Start weaving! The long string will be your working string throughout. Weave it behind the first short and in front of the second.

3. Bring it around behind the second short string and in front of the first.

And then back around, continuing with this pattern, weaving it in and out of the two strings. Make sure to keep your lacing flat. And pull it up as you move along, so that it sits right up against the previous “stitch”.

4. Knot your piece to finish it off.

5. Slide a hook or key chain into the knot.

6. Optional: To finish off a lanyard/boondoggle and trim it short, you can hot glue around the knot (adults only). Regardless, I like to leave a little hanging fringe/tassel.

You can see how to make gimp bracelets to finish this off as a bracelet.

Yes, making a zipper stitch lanyard is that easy! What’s YOUR favorite boondoggle stitch? Comment below!

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