Friendship Bracelets FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to friendship bracelets there are certain questions that every beginner asks.
Whether it be “how long does my string need to be?” or “how do you tie the different knots?” Don’t you worry. I’ve got you covered!

Click the question to jump straight to the answers:
How long does my string have to be?
What kind of bracelets should I start making first?
How do I start my bracelet?
How do I finish my bracelet?
How do you keep your knots the same size?
What kind of string should I use?
What are the basic knots?
Why is my bracelet not straight?
More Useful Tips

How long does my string have to be?

This is probably the #1 asked question. While that answer still varies on each individual bracelet, I would say 1 meter (39 inches) is usually a good start. If you fold your string in half – therefore making 2 of each color – I would double those measurements to 2 meters (78 inches).

Some people just guess these measurements and use the “wingspan” method. I have been know to use this many times before. This is were you hold the end of your string in your left hand, stretch out across your body all the way to your right hand, and that would be your string length. You would then fold that in half to get your “doubled” string. I don’t use this method anymore because I always seemed to be running short on string by the end of my bracelets. If I use this method now I would measure from my left fingertip to where my right armpit starts. Then I would fold that in half to get my second length.

Now of course if your pattern has one color of string being used WAY more than another you could always add a few more centimeters or inches.

What kind of bracelets should I start making first?

The next most common question is what pattern should I start with?
To keep this simple – I highly recommend the chevron. This one allows you to learn both types of knots at the same time. While a candy stripe only uses one kind of knot I find it useful to familiarize yourself with both. This makes sure you don’t favor one kind of knot over the other. Click here for Knot Basics.
The best part about this pattern is you can make it as wide as you like. All you have to do is add more colors (or just repeat colors).

How do I start my bracelet?

There are many differnt ways you can start your bracelet. The most common beginner way is a simple overhand knot. My only argument with this kind is I find it tricky to thread the knot (or the end of your bracelet strings) through all the individial thread loops. (see picture – A)

The next most common beginner start is no start at all (see picture – B & D), but tape down your strings at one end leaving a 15-20 centimeter (6-7.5 inches) tail end and start knotting your pattern. You will then braid, fishtail or twist your leftover thread after you are finished your bracelet (if you still have them as a continuous “loop” on top just cut them apart). Best part about this style is you can cut all your strings to 1 meter (39 inches). This allows you to use string that is otherwise too short to fold in half. I would recommend adding an extra 10-15 centimeters (4-6 inches) for the tie part  for this method.

The next start is my personal favorite – the loop (see picture – C). It gives it a little added protection. This is where you tie knots around the center part of your string bunch. I would recommend adding 30 centimeters (11.5 inches) to whichever string color you’d like to use to created the loop.

How do I finish my bracelet?

There are sooo many ways to end your bracelets as well. Most of the time it’s whichever you like the most.

The most common are twisted ties (see picture – B), fishtail (see picture – A) or regular braids (see picture – D). These are fast to do and are more size adjustable because you can tie the knot to whichever tightness you like your bracelets to be.

If you know the wrist size you can make a *“buckle closure” (see picture – C) or just a plain knot (see picture – E). This style is recommended to use with the loop start. I find that tying one knot on top of the first usually gives it the perfect thickness to fit through the loop without coming undone too easily. The buckle closure has the added security of having a second loop making it even more secure.

For an in depth look at how the different closures work – click here!

Note*buckle closure – not my original design. I discovered this method from Megan Morris on YouTube.

How do you keep your knots the same size?

Practice. Practice. Practice. I know that sounds like an easy cop-out answer but the truth is in the saying: “Practice makes perfect”. Don’t expect your first bracelet to be perfect. Mine sure wasn’t. But the more you practice, the more naturally you start to knot, and the more you find out how tight or loose to tie your knots. Most of the time when you first start you will find that you tie your knots too loose, making your bracelet have huge gaps between knots and even your rows.
To help practice I recommend tying a bunch of chevron bracelets until you start to see your knots looking like you want them too. You may find you tie backwards knots looser than your forewards knots. So by practicing you will teach yourself to tighten up the strings on certain knots more than others. Pretty soon you’ll be able to tie knots without even looking! (Ok, maybe not – but one can hope right?)

What kind of string should I use?

There’s always the question of “does the string make a difference?”
When you are first starting out I would recommend getting one of those multi packs (usually has 100 or so skiens) to practice with. Since your first bracelets won’t be perfect you might as well use cheaper materials to perfect your skills right?
Note – I find that the cheaper threads tend to fray faster – they seem more “fuzzy” for the lack of a better word.

But after that you can purchase the better quality strings. Most bracelet makers use embroidery floss. It comes in sooo many colors! And unlike the multipacks, you can can buy individual colors when you run out. Alot of people say that the cheaper multipacks sometimes don’t have much of a shine to them. The embroidery floss usually is more shinier – and also softer to touch.

What are the basic knots?

Technically there are only 2 knots. A forewards knot and a backwards knot.
Each “knot” in a friendship bracelet consists of 2 of the knot types. So if you are moving a string color from the left to the right you will be doing a foreward knot (x2). If you are moving the string color from right to left you will be doing a backwards knot (x2). If the string color stays in the same place you will make a forewards backwards knot, or backwards forewards knot with whichever string is the color of the knot needed for the pattern. Here are my picture diagrams for the forewards knot. Click here for all the knots with pictures.

Why is my bracelet not straight?

This is the most common problem with bracelets that have the majority of only one kind of knot. For example the candystripe. Since this bracelet uses only forward knots (or backward knots if you are knotting right to left) and these are highly prone to twisting or bending. There is not a lot that can be done to change this, it’s just the nature of the knots. I also find that when the knots are grouped in bunches this can lead to having “bumps” or bulged out areas. Try and do some patterns that are more symetrical.

More Useful Tips

Fancy Threads

When using very hard to work with threads such as metalic and irridescent I find it helpful to tie a little knot at the very end of the strands to keep them from unravelling while knotting. I also found that 5 strands for the irredescent one made the same size knots as the regular thread (As in the picture with the sparkly cancer ribbon bracelet).

Bobbin Storage

While storing our threads on bobbins is one way of organizing our threads it is also very aesthetically pleasing to look at if you group certain colors together. But sometimes I find the plastic bobbins, while being much sturdier than the cardboard kind, don’t hold the threads as good as you’d like. I found that adding a little elastic, such as the loom bracelet ones, tend to tame the thread ends. But you don’t need to store them on bobbins at all. You can keep them as their original skeins in a box or container.

Bracelet Anchoring

Way back in the day the most common way to secure your bracelet while knotting is to poke a safety pin through it and attaching it to your pants, pillow or any other surface you can get your hands on.

But nowadays there are many more ways. So whether you’re knotting on the couch while watching TV or passing time on the bus there is an anchoring style to suit everyone’s needs.

The original anchoring method – the safety pin. I like to poke through the fabric in 3 places like in the picture. When the bracelet gets longer I’ll add a second one to hold down the middle.

The next most popular anchoring method is tape. I like to use painters tape because it doesn’t shred the fibres of the strings too badly. I add another strip when the bracelet gets longer.

Another popular method is a clipboard. I’ve added a thick craft foam to give it a bit of added padding. This also is great because it’s easily transportable. This is the method I use most often.

And lastly is just a plain old binder clip. You can then attach your bracelet to any hard surface like a book or thick piece of cardboard.


These are actually a really good alternative to the regular knotted bracelets. They get created by moving string on the foam board in a circular motion. It weaves the strings together creating this rope type bracelet. I highly recommend these for beginners. AND they take less time to create.

Kumihimos make a great addition or complete a set!