How to make friendship bracelets

Hand with lots of bracelets

© Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

    • An Anglo-Saxon brooch with an intricate woven design© British Museum
      Anglo-Saxons were really good at weaving and embroidery. Many beautiful examples of material, clothes and belts have been found. One of the ways they used to decorate their clothes was by plaiting or braiding coloured thread.

      Their jewellery and other metalwork was often decorated with patterns that looked like braids or plaits too.This close-up of part of an Anglo-Saxon belt buckle shows how the pattern looks woven, or plaited. The buckle was found at Sutton Hoo.

      Friendship Bracelets

      Braiding is really easy to do. It's fun, and with a little practice you can get really beautiful results. Your friends will love getting presents that you've made yourself.

      A selection of silk threads in a variety of colours

      You will need:

      • Silk embroidery thread, wool or leather cord
      • Scissors
      • Sticky tape

      The very easiest plait is one with three threads, but you're all too clever for that so here's how to plait with five.

      Start off by cutting five lengths of your thread. Try to make them all about the same length.

      Take one end of each piece of thread and tie them together with a simple knot.

      Now tape the knotted end of your threads to a tabletop or any clear, steady surface where you can do your plaiting.

      Lay the threads out flat in front of you, like in our picture.

      A picture showing five silk strands. They are tied into a know at one end and the loose strands are ready to be platted
      Start with one of the outer threads, it doesn't matter which side.

      Cross it over the two threads next to it and into the middle.

      Now do the same with the outer thread from the other side.

      That's all you do! Keep going, always crossing the outer threads over into the middle and remembering to swap sides each time. Remember as well to tighten the plait each time you cross over - pushing the plaited section gently up to the last plait each time.

      This is how your plait will look as you work.
      A close up of platted silk threads
      Try to keep the plait smooth and even as you go.

      There you go, easy isn't it? When your plait is long enough, or you get to the end of the threads, tie a knot again to keep the plait in place.

      Untape the plait and tie the two ends together to make your bracelet.

      There you go - a finished friendship bracelet! Trim the ends if you like and tie them in a knot to fit your wrist.

      A finished example of a platted bracelet.
      You'll find that the more you plait, the easier it gets.

      It's fun to experiment with different colours and different numbers of threads. Beads look pretty threaded on to bracelets as well.

      As you plait, spare a thought for those Anglo-Saxons, plaiting just like you (apart from the sticky tape, of course) hundreds of years ago. Do you think they made bracelets for their friends too?
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