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Chinese Button Knot



Four Loop

Traditional Button with Five Loops

Traditional Button with Loose Loop

Button made with  Four Loops (flat)


Description: The Chinese Button Knot is one of the basic knots used in Chinese Macrame. It is frequently sewn onto traditional Chinese and Asian clothing to make the closures. 

This decorative knot is often combined with the Pipa Knot and the Cloverleaf knot.

The traditional design has five loops, which are usually arranged into a round ball shaped button (left image above).

You can also tighten four of the loops and keep one for hanging, such as when you are making earrings or a pendant (center image above).

I've added instructions for a button made with four loops.  You can form it into a button shape or leave it flat so it can be used as a focal knot (right image above).

Beginners should practice constructing and tightening both techniques several times, until you can make one without the instructions

Chinese Button Knot with 5 Loops

Loop 1

Step 1:  Secure the center of a 60-inch cord to your board.

Cross the right half over the left to make loop 1.

Loop 2

Step 2:  Move the right half of the cord clockwise to make loop 2.

It should rest to the left of loop 1.

Move Loop 2

Step 3:  Move loop 2 to the right, placing it under the left side of Loop 1, creating three spaces.

Secure the right half of the cord to your board.  

Loop 3

Step 4:  Move the left half of the cord to the left, passing it over the right half.

Weave it under - over - under - under loops 1 and 2, moving left to right.

Loop 4

Step 5:  Move the left half of the cord diagonally to the left, passing it over three segments:  Both parts of loop 1 and the right half of the cord. 

Bring it under the last two segments, which are part of loops 2 and 3.  Make sure it rests to the left of the right half, then secure it.

Start Loop

Step 6:  Move the right half of the cord to the left, passing it over the left half, then over both sides of loop 2.

Pass it under the left side of loop 1.

The X in this image is at the center of the knot.

Loop 5

Step 7:  To make loop 5, move the right half of the cord forward, passing over the first three segments it comes to (part of loops 1, 2, 4).

Pass it through the center (X) so it rests under the last three segments (part of loops 2, 3, 5). 

You have two options for tightening the Chinese Button Knot:

Step 8 shows you how to tighten it completely in a typical ball shape.

Step 9 shows you how to tighten it with one loop remaining loose at the top.

Round Shape

Step 8:
Hold the knot upright in one hand so the ends are dangling. 

Fold the knot so the center space where the ends pass through is at the top (see blue X in step 6). The crook of the loops should be at the bottom.

Round Knot

Slowly remove the slack from each loop.  Start at one end and work all the way through the knot to the other end. 

Hold Loop

Step 9:  Loose Loop

Pick up the knot by holding loop 1, letting the ends dangle.  Pull both ends to tighten the knot slightly

Squeeze the other loops so they surround loop 1 and are in a ball shape.


Adjust the size of loop 1, then tighten the remaining loops until firm.


Chinese Button Knot with 4 Loops

Four Loops

Since the Chinese Button can be made with four loops, I've included the directions for tying it.

This technique is the best option if you want a small button, or if you want the design to remain flat as shown above.

Loop 1

Step 1:  Place a 60-inch cord on your board vertically.  Make a clockwise loop near the center of the cord.  Mentally label it as loop 1.

The vertical segment is considered the left half of the cord, and the horizontal portion is the right half.

Loop 2

Step 2:  Make another clockwise loop with the right half of the cord, passing under the horizontal segment to complete the loop.

It should rest to the left of loop 1. Mentally label it loop 2.

Move Loop

Step 3: Move loop 2 to the right, so it rests under a portion of loop 1.

It should look like a pretzel shape with three spaces.  The right half of the cord should be on the right.

Loop 3

Step 4:  Use the left half of the cord to make the next clockwise loop, mentally labeling it loop 3.

Weave it under - over - under - over loops 2 and 1 horizontally, heading right.

Loop 4

Step 5:  Make the final clockwise loop with the left half of the cord.  Start by moving it over the right half of the cord, heading left.

Then weave it under - over - under - under loops 3 and 2, heading backward vertically.

Flat and Loose

As with the traditional Chinese Button Knot, you have options when tightening.

You can leave the knot flat and tighten it only part of the way, so there are spaces between the loops.

Tighten Completely

Another option is to tighten it completely, so the inside center area is shaped like a square.

Ball Shape

The final option is to squeeze the knot into a traditional ball shape. 

One segment will have a tendency to sink under the others.  Pull it up with tweezers so it's even with the other segments.

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