When you’re working on a macrame project, it’s important to be able to estimate cord length so you’ll know how much cord you need in order to complete the project.
It may seem like an easy thing to estimate, but most people end up with more or less than they need – and that can be frustrating!
In this blog post we’ll go over some simple math calculations so that you can make your estimates easily and correctly. Plus, I have a free printable guide for you!
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Estimating macrame cord length is one of the most intimidating parts of macrame. Especially if you aren’t the best at math (I hear ya!)
The good news is there are some easy tips and tricks to figure out how much cord you need for your projects.
I’ve collected them all in this handy guide, so be sure to bookmark this page and Pin it so you can find it when you need it!
And I also have a free printable Macrame Cord Length Estimating Guide to share with you- sign up in the box below to get it!
It includes worksheets and step by step instructions to easily estimate your macrame cord lengths.
Macrame for Beginners
If you’re totally new to macrame and looking to learn all the basics, be sure to check out my Macrame for Beginners Guide!
Inside you’ll find out what supplies you need, the basic knots, and other helpful info to get you started off right.
Also, be sure to come check out our awesome Facebook group! It’s a really fun and supportive community:
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If you’re new to macrame or if you’ve been knotting for a while, connecting with other macrame lovers is always a great idea!
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First things first – Types of Macrame Cord
Macrame cord come in different types and each type holds knots a little bit differently.
What I mean by that is that some of the cords are softer and will use less cord to tie a knot, and some are harder and will use more cord to tie the same knot.
These are some of the most common types of macrame cord you’ll come across and their hardness level.
So, if you’re making a section of a wall hanging with alternating square knots, you’ll use more cord if you 3 ply twisted cotton than if you used single strand cotton, even if they’re the same size cord.
It’s not a massive difference, but it’s something to keep in mind.
How macrame cord thickness is measured
Before you start estimating the length of cord you’ll need for your project, you need to know the thickness of your cord.
Macrame cord is usually measured and marked in millimeters. The most common thicknesses to use for most projects are 3, 4 and 5 mm, but there are thicknesses of rope from 1 mm all the way up to 30 mm and higher!
Once you get your rope home and unwrapped, it’s a good idea to mark the thickness on the top of the spool. It’s easy to forget what size it is don’t the road, and guessing can be really tricky, especially if you don’t have something to compare it to.
The thicker the cord is, the more length you’ll need. Three rows of alternating square knots with 3 mm will use a lot less cord than three rows of the same knots using 7 mm cord.
How to Calculate the Length of Cord Needed for Your Macrame Project (a.k.a. the lazy/easy way!)
Generally speaking, the basic rule of thumb is to take the finished length of your project and multiply it by 4 to get the length for your cords. Then add extra for however much fringe you want at the end.
If you’ll be folding the cords in half and attaching them to a dowel (like for a wall hanging), you’ll then multiply the number you just got by 2 to get the final cord length.
The bad thing about this method is it isn’t super exact and you’ll typically end up with extra cord left over. Or worse, your cords might end up too short.
How to ACCURATELY Estimate Macrame Cord Lengths (still pretty easy!)
To get an accurate estimation of how long you should cut your macrame cords, you’ll need to do a smidge of homework first.
The good news is it’ll make pattern design a WHOLE lot easier!
Did you sign up for the Free Macrame Cord Length Estimating Guide earlier? If not, DO THAT NOW. Trust me, it’ll make this a whole lot easier
Grab it in the box below!
Step 1: Figure out how much cord per knot
First, you’ll need to take some of your cord and make some test knots.
Mark the top and bottom of the cords, then untie the knots and measure the amount of cord it takes for each kind of knot.
WRITE IT DOWN.
Seriously, you don’t want to have to do this again with the same size of cord. You’ll thank me later!
(Hint: in the Free Macrame Cord Length Estimating Guide, there’s a printable chart to put all this info.)
Step 2: Let’s get mathematical!
Wow, I can’t believe I said that. Middle school Crystal failing 7th grade math would be shocked.
If you, like 7th grade Crystal, absolutely HATE MATH! I have something you’ll love. Check out the amazing Macrame Cord Length Estimator that does ALL THE MATH for you!
But now it’s time to calculate!
For this example, we’re going to assume you’re making something that will require you to fold your cords in half and attach them to something. Like a dowel or a wooden ring. (This is your foundation.)
Figure out what knots you want to do for your project. Then decide how many rows of each knot you’ll do.
Math Thing 1. Multiply the amount of rows by the amount of cord that knot takes. Write that down.
(There’s a handy chart to fill out for this too, which is also in the Free Macrame Cord Length Estimating Guide above.)
Do that for each type of knot you’ll include. Write them all down.
Math Thing 2. Add up the total length of any unknotted spaces in your project. Write it down.
Math Thing 3. Add in the total length of fringe if your project includes fringe. You guessed it, write it down.
Now it’s time for the magic. Here’s your formula:
Add together all the numbers from Math Thing 1 + Math Thing 2 + Math Thing 3. Multiply the result by 2. Then add however much cord it takes to make a lark’s head knot around whatever foundation you intend to use.
Ta-da! That’s how long your cords should be.
Macrame Cord Length Tips
Here are a few quick tips to help make estimating macrame cords a bit simpler:
- Thicker cords will require more length, thinner cords require less
- Harder cords use more length than softer cords, ie. single strand cotton uses less than 3-strand twisted cotton
- The more knots your pattern has, the more cord it’ll take. If there’s a lot of unknotted sections, it’ll use less.
- If you aren’t sure, cut more cord. You can always use the scraps for macrame feathers!
Make Yourself a Macrame Length Chart
The best way to get precise measurements is to make yourself a chart!
I recommend doing this for all the cord types and sizes you typically use for your macrame projects.
You’ll also want to grab the chart available in the Free Macrame Cord Length Estimating Guide, a tape measure and a pencil.
How much cord does a Lark’s Head knot take?
First, attach a piece of each thickness of cord to your dowel with lark’s head knots, and make a mark right where the cord comes out of the knot on both ends of the cord.
Then untie the knot and measure the distance between the marks. That’s how much cord it takes to tie a lark’s head knot with that size of cord around whatever size of dowel you’re using.
Write the number down and repeat that process with your other thicknesses of cords.
How much cord does a Square Knot take?
Attach two pieces of the cord to your dowel with Lark’s Head knots. Tie a square knot, leaving a little bit of space between the knot and the dowel for easy marking.
Then make a small mark on all the cords at the top and bottom of the knot. Make the marks right where the cords are coming out of the knot.
Now, untie the square knot and measure each cord. The filler cords won’t change, but the working cords will. Write the number down in your chart for that cord thickness.
Now repeat all those steps for each thickness of cord and each kind of knot and you’ll have a very detailed way to estimate your cord lengths!
You can take this a step further and tie knot patterns, like a certain amount of rows of alternating square knots, mark the top and bottom, untie all the knots and measure the result.
How to Add More Macrame Cord if You Underestimate (it happens)
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to estimate the cord properly, we end up running out in the middle of our project.
If that happens to you, don’t panic! Check out this post with several helpful ways to add more macrame cord when you run out.
There’s no need to un-knot the whole thing!
How Much Cord Do I Need for a Macrame Bracelet?
If the bracelet will have lots of knots throughout the whole design, it’s a safe bet to use 10 X the length of the finished bracelet.
So first you’ll need to measure the wrist of the intended wearer, add extra for tying it on, and then multiply that times 10.
How Much Cord is Needed for a Macrame Plant Hanger?
If it’s going to be a simple plant hanger with only a few knots, you can probably just go with 2 or 3 times the finished length X 2.
But if it’ll have a lot of knots at the top or for the basket section, or if there are sections with long sennits of square knots, you’ll definitely want to go with the estimating methods mentioned above.
How Much Macrame Cord Do I Need for a Large Wall Hanging?
This can really vary depending on if you’ll have large sections with no knots or if it’ll be tightly knotted all over.
I recommend figuring out the length of the knotted sections and add that number together. Then multiply it by 4, and then 2. Now, add the length of the unknotted sections and fringe length together and multiply them by 2.
Then you can add both numbers together and get your rough finished cord lengths.
If you have extra leftover, just make a bunch of macrame feathers or leaves. Or add the scraps into a macraweave wall hanging. That’s way I like to do!
I hope this tutorial on how to estimate macrame cord has been helpful! This has been something I’ve struggled with over the years and I know how frustrating and daunting it can be.
Looking for more macrame inspiration and ideas? Check out the links below!
Related Macrame Posts
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- Crown Knot Macrame Plant Hanger Pattern & Tutorial
How to Estimate Macrame Cord Length | The Ultimate Guide!
Crystal Martin is the crafty lady behind Marching North. She loves sharing easy to follow tutorials and patterns for macrame, crochet, punch needle, and pretty much anything else involving yarn or textiles.
Her work has been featured on Creative Fabrica, Craft Gossip, Ravelry, as well as her own site and YouTube channels.