tips for planning your next macrame project

macrame tips -

tips for macrame -

Once you get bitten by the macrame bug, your head will start spinning with all kinds of projects you’re dying to make. But where to start? More planning is required than simply grabbing a wooden pole and a bagful of rope from the closest hardware store. 

types of macrame cord

 All rope is not created equal. First, you need to decide if a natural or synthetic cord will work best for your project. Synthetic cords, such as nylon or polypropylene, are good options for outdoor projects, as they are more water-resistant than natural materials. Natural cording, such as cotton, wool and hemp, work well for indoor decorative macrame projects.

Below is a list of my favorite choices for various projects. This is not a comprehensive list at all, just a few basics to point you in the right direction.

Projects requiring natural cording:

Wall hangings – My top choice is cotton. For the one below, I used 3/16″ diameter cotton clothesline rope. For even larger projects, I recommend a wider, chunkier rope.

macrame tips -

Planters – 3/16″ diameter cotton rope is a good choice for small planters, such as this one. 

macrame tips -

Belts and small projects – These usually require cotton cording in 3mm or 4mm diameter. I have not  yet made a belt, but it is definitely on my list. A braided rope (instead of a twisted one) will work best, as it will not easily fray.

Projects requiring synthetic cording:

Survival belts – These should be made from nylon cording. For this one, I used 550 strength paracord.

survival belt -

Lawn chairs – The best option for lawn chairs is paracord. I used 6mm braided polypropylene cording for this chair. Two crochet hooks,  size Q – 19 (US) were also needed. lawn chair -

Outdoor planters – These need synthetic cording. For the one below, I used 5/16″ diameter nylon rope. I loved working with this thickness.

macrame tips -

Patio chairs – Some outdoor chairs, such as this vintage French Hoffer Spider chair, is woven with bungee cord. 

spider chair

thickness of macrame cords

When shopping for macrame rope, it can get very confusing. Some companies post rope sizes in millimeters, others in inches (and fractions!) Whew! Here’s a reference chart to make your planning easier. Trust me, it will come in handy.

From smallest to largest diameter:

1/4 in:  6mm

5/16 in:  (approx 7.9mm)

3/8 in:  (approx 9.5mm)

1/2 in:  13mm

5/8 in:  16mm

3/4 in:  19mm

1 in:  25mm 

determining cord length

This is perhaps one of the trickiest tasks when beginning a project. And there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing your cords are way too short when you’re midway through a wall hanging. The best advice I’ve come across is from Macrame Lovers: “If the macrame design uses doubled cords folded in half to form two cords, then the length should be approximately 8 times the length of the finished piece. If the piece uses a lot of open spaces and less closed spaces, then shorter cords should be used.”

preventing cords from unraveling

A braided cord unravels less than a twisted one. Also, to keep cords from unraveling while weaving a new project, first treat the ends. Synthetic cords can be treated by lighting the tip with a match to cause the end to melt. Cotton cords can be dipped in melted clear wax.

Hope you find this info helpful, as you become as obsessed with macrame as I am!

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Hi, I'm Wendy. Southern by birth, Francophile by marriage, bohemian by nature, and minimalist by choice. Check out and join me in a year of making beautiful things.

Comments · 6

  1. I’d like to make the lawn chair in your photo. Do you have a pattern for it? How much paracord would I need in each color for one chair? Why does it need two crochet hooks?

    1. Nancy,
      I haven’t yet put together a tutorial for the lawn chair, but I plan to asap. It is trickier to make than photos suggest, so I want to make a video tutorial to show how to work the sides with the crochet hooks. There’s a real need for a GOOD tutorial, because I had to figure it out through trial and error. I hope to have the tutorial up next week.
      I bought 100 yards of pink and 100 yards of orange and had a little bit left over. I used 6mm cord from here –
      Also 2 size Q crochet hooks (I got mine from the same site).
      thanks for stopping by my blog!
      Wendy recently posted…tips for planning your next macrame projectMy Profile

  2. I am showing my age but I loved to macrame back in the day. I have been thinking of doing my outdoor furniture so it is great to see your version. It all looks great.

  3. I learned macrame in the 70’s! Really hasn’t changed much. Can’t wait to get started again. Thanks for your article! Very helpful!

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