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  The British Academy Award is based on a design by Mitzi Cunliffe - the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum. - the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum. April 20 2014
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Home > Topic > Anglo-Saxons  > Friendship Bracelets

Friendship Bracelets

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.

Shows a close-up photo of part of a gold belt buckle, showing an intertwined pattern.

Left; 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.
© The British Museum.

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.

You will need:

Silk embroidery thread, wool or leather cord


Sticky tape

Right: silks like these are perfect. You can buy them for about 50p each.

Shows a photo of five packs of embroidery silks. They are red, blue, black, yellow and green.

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.

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.

Try to keep the plait smooth and even as you go.

Right: tie a knot in the end of all five threads like this.

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.

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?

Right: this is how your plait will look as you work.

A close-up view of five coloured threads, woven over each other to form a plait.

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