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.
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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 (like me!)
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!
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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 (the easy way!)
Generally speaking, the 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.
This method isn’t super exact and you’ll typically end up with extra cord left over. But if math is not your friend, this is a good way to go.
A lot of times when I’m creating a new pattern I use that method of measuring.
Once the project is finished I measure the shortest piece of excess cord when I trim it off, then I multiply that times 2 and subtract the total from the cord length for future reference.
It works well for me and doesn’t hurt my brain too much. Then I save the leftover scraps for other projects.
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!
A More Precise Method of Measuring Macrame Cords
If you’re not satisfied this the first method and want to get a bit more precise in your measurements, I hear ya.
Unfortunately, that’s a bit out of my wheel house, but I’ve found others who’ve gotten it down to a science!
This book is one of my favorites, and on page 32 she has a wonderful section all about estimating macrame cords
Be forewarned, it’s VERY detailed, so if you’re not looking to do a lot of calculating you might want to stick with the simple method above.
However if you’re totally fine with that, check it out because it’s super precise and mathematical.
Make Yourself a Macrame Length Chart
Another way to get more precise measurements is to make yourself a chart!
To do this, you’ll want to have cords in all the thicknesses you typically use for your macrame projects and a dowel. Plus a pencil and paper to take notes.
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!
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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.