Tips in Estimating Macrame Cord Lengths

by Macrame

I have often encountered this question regarding macrame cords: How do I know the length of cord I needed for a project? It seems there is no exact formula for this until I came across Elaine Lieberman’s craftsite (no longer online). She has been gracious in letting me share the following tips (edited for uniqueness) in estimating the length of macrame cord to use:

  • Unless the pattern was very specific with the cord’s length, measuring a macrame cord’s quantity is mainly a trial-and-error game. The rule of thumb for this guesstimate depends on whether the design uses a lot of open spaces or closed spaces, or both.
  • If the macrame pattern uses a mix of open and closed spaces, then the cord should be estimated to be 4 times the length of the finished piece. The length of the finished piece depends on how much of the cord covers a wrist, neck or ankle.
  • If the macrame design uses doubled cords folded in half to form two cords, then the length should be approximately 8 times the length of the finished piece.
  • If the piece uses a lot of open spaces and less closed spaces, then shorter cords should be used. If the piece has a closed look, which needs lots of knots, then you will need longer cords.
  • Heavier cords will need to be longer than thinner cords because of the knots. Knots using heavier or thicker cords require more length.
  • Some types of knots will use up different types of cords at different rates. For example, a long sequence of square knots will use up a lot of cord quantity than core cords. Knotting cords may need to be 5 or 6 times the finished length, while core cords may only need to be twice the finished length.
  • Always remember to leave a little extra length for making the knots at the end of a piece and extra for fringes or other decorative endings.

See a related post on macrame cord color trends.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie August 8, 2017 at 3:41 am

this article is my lifesaver! have been looking for answers everywhere. thank you for posting


CHRISSY March 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Thank you for the help!! Haven’t done any macrame since I was a child (30 years at least)! You made my first new project easy especially “how to estimate cord lengths”. I’m having fun and planning another project!


CJ Lehman March 12, 2011 at 3:23 am

Good Post. Any tips on cord substitution? If a pattern says to use #72 Natural Jute (for example) what size braided cord could be used instead? I am new to Macrame and am glad I stumbled upon this Blog.


TomPier May 4, 2010 at 12:54 am

great post as usual!


Macrame May 4, 2010 at 3:50 am

Thank you, TomPier! ^_^


Todd Reade April 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Tips in Estimating Macrame Cord Lengths | Macrame Lovers Blog: If the macrame pattern uses a mix of open and close…


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