An overview of macrame
Macrame is a type of textile in which cords of materials such as cotton or leather are knotted together, to form items such as belts, tablecloths, clothes and decorative pieces to hang on walls.
A history of macrame
Macrame has been traced back to Arabic weavers of the 13th Century. It is a form of textile making that uses knotting techniques without the use of needles and hooks to create decorative geometric and free form patterns. It is a very versatile craft and all sorts of items can be created by using it, such as, jewellery, decorations, clothing and lampshades.
The art of macrame arrived in Spain after the Moorish Conquest and was then taken to Italy before spreading to Europe. Towards the end of the 17th century macrame was brought to England to the court of Queen Mary 2nd, who taught it to her ladies in waiting.
Macrame was also used by British sailors in the 19th century to make hammocks, bell fringes and belts whilst they were at sea. This helped them to pass the time and gave them items to trade when they arrived at port.
In England, Macrame was very popular with the Victorians and therefore most households contained many items made by this technique.
Over the years macrame became unpopular but in recent times this ancient and decorative craft has risen in popularity again, making a welcomed comeback.
Tools of the macrame trade
Tools Used in Macramé
Macramé is a knotting technique used to create decorative items such as wall hangings, plant hangers, and jewellery. The following are the main tools used in macramé:
Cord or Rope
Cotton cord: This is the most commonly used material in macramé, as it is soft, durable, and easy to knot.
Hemp cord: Hemp cord is a natural fiber and has a rough texture, making it ideal for use in bohemian-style macramé pieces.
Fabric scissors: Scissors with a sharp point are necessary for making precise cuts in the cord or rope.
Clips or Pegs
Clothespins or bulldog clips: These are used to hold the cord or rope in place while working on a project.
Wooden pegs: Wooden pegs can be used as an alternative to clips to hold the cords in place.
Ruler or Measuring Tape
Ruler or measuring tape: A ruler or measuring tape is used to ensure the cords are cut to the correct length.
Tapestry needle: This needle has a large eye and a blunt end, making it ideal for threading the cord or rope through the knots.
By using these tools, you can create a wide range of macramé projects, from simple plant hangers to more complex wall hangings. With practice and patience, you can create beautiful and unique pieces that can be used as decor or given as gifts.
Materials used in macrame
1. Cotton Cord: One of the most common materials used in macrame is cotton cord, which is a strong and durable material that comes in a range of thicknesses. Its perfect for creating large macrame wall hangings, plant hangers and other decorative pieces.
2. Jute Cord: Jute cord is a natural fibre that has a rustic look and feel, making it ideal for creating bohemian-style macrame products. Its commonly used for making macrame plant hangers and wall hangings.
3. Rope: Rope is another popular material for macrame, and is often used to create chunky macrame pieces such as plant hangers, wall hangings and even hammocks. Its available in a range of thicknesses and materials, including cotton, jute and nylon.
4. Beads and Charms: Adding beads and charms to macrame pieces can create a unique look and add interest to the design. They can be used as accents or as the focal point of the piece. For example, a macrame bracelet could feature a charm as its centrepiece.
5. Wooden Dowels: Wooden dowels are often used as the base for macrame wall hangings, providing a sturdy structure for the knotted cords to hang from. They come in a range of sizes and can be painted or stained to match the macrame piece.
6. Metal Rings: Metal rings are commonly used as the base for macrame dreamcatchers or as the foundation for a macrame plant hanger. They come in a range of sizes and materials, including brass, copper and steel.
Techniques of macrame
1. Square Knots: Square knots are the most basic knot used in macrame, and are often used to create patterns in wall hangings or plant hangers. They are made by tying four cords together, two in the middle and two on the outside.
2. Half Knots: Half knots are similar to square knots, but only use two cords instead of four. They are often used to create fringe or tassels in macrame pieces.
3. Larks Head Knots: Larks head knots are used to attach cords to a base, such as a wooden dowel or metal ring. They are made by folding a cord in half and placing the loop over the base, then pulling the ends of the cord through the loop and tightening.
4. Spiral Knots: Spiral knots are used to create a spiral pattern in macrame pieces, and are made by wrapping cords around a base and tying them in place.
5. Double Half Hitch Knots: Double half hitch knots are used to create a diagonal pattern in macrame pieces. They are made by tying two half hitch knots in opposite directions.
6. Alternating Square Knots: Alternating square knots are used to create a zigzag pattern in macrame pieces. They are made by tying square knots in alternating directions.
Tips and tricks of macrame
1. Choose eye-catching designs: Handmade macrame products are often unique and visually striking, so its important to create designs that stand out from the crowd. Consider using different colours, patterns and textures to create a unique style.
2. Use quality materials: Make sure to use high-quality materials that are durable and easy to work with. This will ensure that your macrame products last longer and are more appealing to customers.
3. Create a range of products: Offer a variety of macrame products that appeal to different tastes and budgets. For example, you could create wall hangings, plant hangers, keychains, bracelets and more.
4. Price your products appropriately: Determine the cost of materials and the time it takes to create each product, then set a fair price that allows you to make a profit. Dont undervalue your products, but be mindful of what your target market is willing to pay.
5. Display your products creatively: Create an attractive display that showcases your macrame products in the best light. Use props, such as wooden shelves or plant pots, to add interest and create a cohesive look.
6. Engage with customers: Be friendly and approachable, and be ready to answer any questions customers may have about your products. Consider offering demonstrations or workshops to help customers learn more about macrame.
Ideas and inspiration for macrame
Here are a few ideas for handmade macramé items that one can make and sell at craft fairs:
1. Wall hangings - These are a popular choice amongst macramé enthusiasts. They can come in a variety of sizes and designs, from minimalist to complex. They can be made using natural or coloured cords, and can involve a range of knotting techniques, such as square knots, spiral knots, and loop knots.
2. Plant hangers - Macramé plant hangers can be created to fit pots of different sizes and can be used to display indoor or outdoor plants. Adding wooden beads or tassels can provide extra decorative flair.
3. Home décor - Macramé can be used to make a variety of home décor items, including cushion covers, curtains, and table runners, adding texture and interest to any room in the house.
4. Jewellery - Macramé jewellerry is a great way to experiment with new knotting techniques on a smaller scale. Necklaces, bracelets, and earrings can be made using a range of cords and colours.
5. Bags and pouches - Thicker cords can be used to create macramé bags and pouches, decorated with tassels, beads, or pom-poms. These can serve as practical and stylish storage solutions, or as gifts for friends and family.
6. Pet accessories - Macramé collars, leashes, and toys can be made for furry friends as well!
Whether a seasoned macramé artist or just starting out, there is a project to suit all levels and interests, allowing one to make and sell a range of handmade macramé items that are both functional and decorative.