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How to Braid a String Necklace

Learn different techniques for how to braid a string necklace.

Decorative beads with holes can be added to a braided necklace at any point during the process. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Decorative beads with holes can be added to a braided necklace at any point during the process.

Braided or knotted string jewelry symbolizes the unbreakable bond of friendship and makes a great gift, which is why many people want to know how to braid a string necklace. There are as many variations on how to braid string necklaces, or friendship jewelry, as there are different relationships with friends. The Girl Scouts Council of the Catawba Valley Area (GSCCVA) has passed down the story that children in Guatemala were the first to be taught how to make friendship jewelry by Peace Corps volunteers. The craft was brought back to the United States and has since become a popular children's activity.

Materials to Braid a String Necklace

Materials required for braiding a string necklace depend on the desired look. Braided string necklaces can be worn dangling or choker style, thin or chunky and with or without beads. Determining the look will narrow down the material choices. String is the most important of all the supplies. Embroidery thread or even untraditional materials such as floss will make a thin braid. Strings like hemp or twine are thicker; and yarn will result in an even thicker braid. For a more interesting design, multiple strands of two, three, or even more brightly hued strings can be used. These remaining materials should be gathered to complete the supply list:

  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Cardboard piece
  • Various collection of beads with holes (optional)

For an average width, choker length necklace, six individual 24-inch pieces of string must be cut. More pieces should be cut for a thicker design, still keeping the number divisible by three for a braided pattern, or divisible by four or six for a knotted pattern. Greater length should be allowed for a dangling design. It is best to keep in mind that the resulting necklace is always shorter than the original length of individual pieces of string because of the braiding or knotting.

Braided Technique

All techniques should begin by knotting the pieces of string together approximately one inch from the top. The knotted strands must be secured by placing masking tape over the threads, above the knot, to a flat working surface or sturdy piece of cardboard.

The same steps as braiding hair should be followed when learning how to braid string necklaces. The strands below the knot should be portioned off into three separate sections of string. It does not matter how many strands of string are in each section as long as they are all evenly portioned. Then, the sections of string should be pulled taut. The farthest left section should then be crossed over the middle section. Follow that by taking the farthest right section and crossing it over the middle section, pulling tight after each cross over. This pattern should be repeated until the braid is approximately one inch from the bottom of the string. The remaining strands should then be tied into another knot and the loose thread on the outsides of either knotted end should be trimmed.

Knotted Technique

A knot should be tied in the top inch of the strands of string and should be secured to the working surface; then four separate sections of string should be portioned off to begin a common square knot design. Each section should be evenly proportioned. Online parental resource, AmazingMoms.com suggests numbering the sections of string one to four from left to right. To make a single square knot, Section 1 should be crossed over Sections 2 and three, but under Section 4. Then Section 4 must be passed under Sections 2 and three, but over Section 1 and through the loop created by Section 1 and tightened. This over, under, under, over pattern should be repeated up to approximately one inch from the bottom of the string. Then a knot should be tied at the bottom end and the loose threads trimmed.

Another knotted technique, called the double knot, uses four or six sections of string numbered from left to right. First, loop Section 1 over, then under Section 2. Pull on Section 2 with the other hand to tighten the knot. Repeat a second time to make the double knot. Use Section 1 to make double knots with the succeeding Sections 3 and four and a possible five and six. Then, start again with the left-most section, which will be Section 2. This pattern should be continued by making double knots with each section repeatedly until complete.

With Beads

Decorative beads with holes can be added to a braided necklace at any point during the process. The beads can just slide onto the sections of string, regardless of whether the sections are single or multiple threads. For the square knot design, slide beads onto Sections 2 and 3 together for a center bead motif. The braiding or knots can just continue around the beads.

The knotted ends can be tied together to fasten the braided necklace around the neck. The knots on either end of the necklace act as clasps.

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