DIY Shamballa style macrame bracelet tutorial

January 8, 2012

Square knot macrame bracelets have been given new life due to the influence of high end designers. I’ve got the “Circle of Life” from The Lion King playing in my head as I write this. How else to explain how a simple macrame bracelet design, which has spent years as a summer camp staple and a tourist shop standard, has been reborn as the chic “Shamballa” brand must-have look?

I think it is a great example of how basic techniques can be adapted to suit nearly any style or budget. Have hemp cord and plastic pony beads? You can make this bracelet. Have premium knotting cord and diamond-studded platinum beads? You too can make this bracelet! The trickiest part is making the sliding clasp, but like any type of magic, once you know the trick, it is no problem.

Rings & Things actually made a square knot (aka half knot) macrame bracelet instruction sheet years ago (updated macrame bracelet instructions here). The sliding clasp instructions were also published as part of our “Meteor” macrame bracelet, which has a totally different look. It is past time to update the tutorial with some photographs!

Supplies needed for square-knot macrame bracelet with sliding clasp:

Cord – hemp, Chinese knotting cord, linen, cotton – whatever you like. You’ll need about 12 feet total.

Beads – again, whatever you like – but the holes must be large enough for two strands of your selected cord to fit through. Depending on your knot to bead ratio, you might need one bead or 20.

Scissors, needle, a clipboard (or a work surface and a binder clip), and flat or chain-nose pliers.

Cut two 2′ pieces of cord and one about 6′ long. Leaving approx. 8″ tails, clip the two anchor cords to your work surface. Center the long cord under the two anchors. (For the sake of photos only, the anchors are blue and the knotting cord is black.) You can start with either side, but I start from the right:



Pull to tighten the cords and you’ve completed 1/2 of a square knot. The second 1/2 is the same, just from the left:

4-left loop


Pull tight and you have a complete square knot.


It is totally up to you how many knots to tie between beads, but odd numbers (1, 3, 5, etc.) look best. Tie a few knots, slide a bead onto the anchor cords, tie a few more knots…it is really quite fun! Continue until you have the length you want. Keep in mind that the clasp will add about 1/2″ to the overall length.

Since you started knotting with a single long piece of cord, the starting end is “finished” while the tail end has….tails. To remedy this, sew the tails (one by one) up through the last section of knots. I needed to use pliers to pull the needle through.


Snip off the ends and it is like they were never there!


Now that you know how to make square knots and finish the ends, let’s make the “magic” part – the sliding clasp. Make your bracelet into a circle and overlap the anchor cords. Use bits of cord to bundle them together for the moment.


Now clip the top to your work surface. Cut a 12″ piece of cord and center it under your four anchor cords. Start tying square knots, just like you did for the bracelet itself. Continue for about 1/2″, then sew the ends back in. This section of knots should be able to slide back and forth on the anchor cords. Now, for the tails: they serve an important purpose. Make slip knots an inch or two away from the clasp on each pair of anchor ends. Tie beads on too if you like. These knots/beads act as stoppers, ensuring the ends don’t slide out of the clasp. Make sure you leave enough length to make the bracelet big enough to get over your hand. And ta-da! Adjustable bracelet bliss.


Happy knotting! Please let me know if you have questions, and have fun making your own bracelets! ~ Cindy

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  • cynthia Neale January 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial. Very helpful, exactly the type of closure/ finishing I wanted for my jewelry. Fantastic!
    Cornwall, Ontario

  • allison February 9, 2012 at 5:38 am

    great bracelet, thanks so much for all the clear info 🙂

  • silvia February 22, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Hi, I linked your tutorial on my blog post!
    Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Laura June 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Hi… thanks for the instructions.
    I did notice you have a focal piece in the center.
    Was the knotting started at this focal piece or do you start on the clip and then attach to focal piece. Never did before and looking for new ideas.
    Love it.
    Thanks for help

  • Cindy June 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Laura! Yes, on the bracelet I attached one long piece of hemp with a lark’s head knot to each side of the focal and used these as my anchor cords for the braiding. Best of luck with your macrame! 🙂

  • Jo June 22, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Hi I love your tutorial, I would like to ask a favour? I am running a few workshops for bracelets and would love to use your tutorial as a hand hout for the people who attend the workshop, I will be mainly working with young people with disabilities and your pics are so easy to understand, I would of course leave a link to your blog and credit you for the hand outs on each sheet? if not then not to worry, keep up the good work your stuff is beautiful
    Jo xx

    • Cindy June 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Hi Jo! Of course you can share our tutorial with your students. Thank you for crediting the source – we appreciate it! 🙂

  • Flavy October 25, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Thankyou soooooo much 😀 !

  • bratari shamballa December 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    thank you for the nice how to tutorial
    may i know where did you get the parts from ?

  • zelish December 23, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for the very useful, detailed and easy to understand instructions!

    • Polly December 26, 2012 at 10:14 am

      You’re welcome, thanks for the kind comment!

  • Renee June 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Great tutorial, thank you so much!
    Can you recommend any 2 strand end knots for relatively heavy cord? I try to knot them but it just falls out. For instance instead of sewing the ends of the 12″ piece back in, is there a knot you can use instead?? I have a tendency to macramé so tightly, I can’t sew them back in because it’s too tight. I suppose I could loosen it up a little but then it wouldn’t be the same tension as the rest of the bracelet!
    Thanks again,

  • Josie July 25, 2017 at 10:56 am

    How do i make this

  • Katie February 11, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I was slightly confused at first about making the sliding clasp but I as I stated to ask questions about it I think I figured it out. I’m making a bracelet for my friends niece who just had brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. She’s 15 and I’m a little behind on teenage fashion trends but I think this one will suit. Thank you for offering such a cute variation of the square knot pattern. I don’t know what I would do if their weren’t free tutorials such as this to aid my diy crafting projects.

  • Katie February 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Okay now I have another question. You said that about 12′ of cord will be used for this bracelet and to cut two 2′ strands and one 6′ strand. But, I’m unclear as to whether you cut each of the above mentioned strands in half to include the focal piece or if another set of strands of the same length was used on each side of the focal piece. Obviously when you say about 12′ of cord is needed to complete this project I assume you actually cut four 1′ strands and two 3′ strands but your instructions do not mention this step. Are my assumptions correct? Thanks!

    • Polly February 12, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Hi Katie,
      Don’t cut the 2′ and 6′ strands in half. Keep them as one 6′ piece and 2 2′ pieces. I think if you cut the pieces and start trying to lay them out as described, it will start to make more sense. Then there is another 12″ piece later, so I think she just rounded up to 12′ because having a little extra is much better than being a tiny bit too short. ~Polly

  • Katie February 11, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    And what type of knot did you make to secure the beads on the ends of the bracelet? Thanks a third time !

    • Polly February 12, 2018 at 11:11 am

      Hi Katie,
      I think she just did a couple of overhand knots (the kind you do when you tie the first knot on your tennis shoe). If you do 2 of those, starting with a different strand each time, you end up with a knot that is pretty tough. (Which you regret, if it’s on your shoes!). I don’t think it was her proudest part of the bracelet which is why she didn’t mention it … but I can’t think of a better knot to use.
      A dab of fabric glue on that final knot to help keep it solidly in place is a good idea if your cord seems slippery. ~Polly

  • Katie March 19, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you. I hadn’t even expected a reply as the only other comment I saw didn’t have one. I appreciate your response more than you know. I’ve actually already figured it out as I’m extremely diligent when I put my mind to something. My motto is, “Where there’s a will there’s a way and I have a heck of a lot of will.” I wish there were more hemp patters out there though. A lot of just seems like variations of a square knot and braids or knots in between beads. I haven’t tried any Celtic knots yet though so maybe I’ll find my niche with those. I’ve only been at this jewelry making thing for a little over a month and as much as I had my mind set on using hemp I think I’m gonna have to broaden my horizons. There seems to be a much wider variety of more intricate patterns with the use of different cording material that hemp just won’t adhere to because of its stiffness. I’m gonna keep at it no matter what though because I love learning new hobbies. Thanks again.

    • Polly March 21, 2018 at 11:35 am