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Cord Measurements

Cord Measurements  

Cord measurements include determining the lengths you need to cut, the number of cords, and the total amount of material you need for the entire project.

Most Macrame patterns will tell you these details. But to change the size of a design, or to create Macrame projects without written patterns, you need to understand the math used in the calculations.

This page describes the step by step process I use when creating my own designs. I'm not an expert, but these calculations have worked every time I've used them.

DO NOT cut the cords until ALL the steps on this page have been completed.


IMPORTANT:  A Macrame pattern will usually tell you the size and type of material to use. 

When changing to a different material, you MUST re-calculate the cord measurements, following the steps below. 

This applies to any changes in the knots as well. Consider any change to be a new design, and start the measurements from the beginning. 

Macrame Cord Divider

There are three steps you need to make before starting the calculations:

Finished Size

Step A:  Determine the Finished Length

This is the measurement of the completed design from top to bottom.

The length of each cord is determined by this size, so you need to know the finished length before you start the calculations.

Make sure you include any fringe, if applicable. 


Finished Width

Step B: Determine the Finished Width

This is the size of the completed design when measuring from side to side.

The number of cords you cut are determined by this measurement.


Step C:  Material Size

Knowing the diameter of the cord materials you will use is a very important part of determining cord measurements.

The diameter is the width of one cord, from edge to edge, usually described in millimeters.


For standard Macrame designs, the most common cord sizes are 4mm and 6mm.

Micro-Macrame (jewelry) features materials 2mm or less.

See Macrame Cord for information about various types of materials.

Macrame Cord Divider

Number of Cords to Cut

Now it's time to work on the first step of cord measurements, which is to determine the number of cords to cut for your design.

Step 1: Write down the finished width, in inches, of the main area of the pattern, also called the body.    Remember that this size determines the total number of cords you need for the design.

Step 2: Determine how many cords are needed to construct the knots you will be using in the pattern.

4 Cords per Knot  

For example:  Alternating Square Knot designs are usually made with 4 cords per knot.

So the total number of cords needs to be a multiple of four (8, 12, 16, etc.)


Step 3: When using rings as part of the design, you need to know how many cords each ring can hold.  You may add more cords (or more knots) to cover a ring, but if you start with too many, they will overlap and be uneven.

So you need to determine the circumference of each ring, which is the measurement all the way around.

Your cord measurements must take rings into consideration, so make the following calculations (in inches), before moving on:


Measure the diameter of the ring, which is across the center, from edge to edge.

Diameter of Ring x 3.14 = Circumference

Important:  When you use the chart in step 5, make sure you are not cutting too many cords for the size rings you're using.  

Step 4: Another important part of determining cord measurements is to know if the cords are folded during the mounting process.

Larks Head knots are the most common knots used for mounting, and the cords are folded in half when you tie them.

Folded Cord


By folding, you're doubling the amount of cords available, since you are working with two halves.

So if a knot requires 4 cords, you can use 2 folded cords, or 4 separate ones, depending on the design.

Example:  In the image below, the two horizontal cords are for the necklace. The vertical cords are for the pendant, and they were folded in half as I mounted them to the necklace cords.  

Cords are Folded  

By folding the 8 vertical cords, there were a total of 16 cords to work with.

The finished size was slightly less than 1.5 inches wide, since I used 1mm material (see chart below).



Step 5: Use this chart to determine the number of cords to cut for the Body of your Macrame project:


Size of Material   Folded   Not Folded
6mm   2 cords per inch   4 cords per inch
4mm   3 cords per inch   6 cords per inch
3mm   4 cords per inch   8 cords per inch
2mm   6 cords per inch   12 cords per inch
1mm   12 cords per inch   24 cords per inch

When using rings, remember that you can always add more cords if necessary.

Make sure you do not cut more than each ring can hold (see step 3).

For knot patterns that require a specific number of cords, increase or decrease the number of cords as needed.

Separate Holding Cord  

Step 6: Determine if there are any SEPARATE holding cords, which are not used as working cords in the pattern.

Write these down, separate from the main cords used for the body, since the cord measurements for the length will be different than the others.



Step 7: Decide how many cords you need to ADD, such as to widen an area.   Sometimes it's better to start with a few cords and then add new ones as you progress.

Write these down, separate from the others, since they may be a different length than the others.

Step 8: Some knot designs require you to cut EXTRA cords:

Wrapped Knots and Sliding Clasps are made with separate cords.

Write these down on your paper as well, separate from the others.


Macrame Cord Divider

Cord Length Calculations


To determine the length of the cords used in the design, you must first know the finished length of the item (see step A, near top of page).

Certain knots will change the cord measurements, so be sure you know which ones are used.

  Cord Length

You should have several groups of cords written down, such as those for the body, holding cords, and extras.

Be sure you make the calculations for all the groups separately.

IMPORTANT: Filler cords are often cut shorter than working cords in the older Macrame patterns.

I do not recommend this, because you may need to switch working and filler cords somewhere in the pattern.

You may have material left over at the end of the project, but it's better than running out!


Step 1: Cutting Lengths for the Body (main area)

Space Between Rows  

For designs that are loosely knotted, with 1-inch of space (or more) between the rows of knots:

Finished Length x 3 = length of each cord



When making simple braids or weaving, you can reduce the length of the cords slightly (Finished Length x 2.5).

Tightly Knotted Rows  

For designs where the rows of knots are close together:

Finished Length x 4 = length of each cord.


Larks Head Knot  

DOUBLE the length you came up with in the previous step, if the cords are folded at any point in the design.


Button Knot  

You must add extra length for any button knots, picots, or clasps.

In general, adding 10 inches per knot is a good idea for projects that are complex, have picot loops, or have button knots.



Step 2: Cutting Lengths for Holding Cords


Many patterns require holding cords, which are usually not used to tie the knots.

When these cords function as working cords AT ANY TIME, they are not considered part of this step.

Use the instructions for Step 1 instead.

Working and Holding Cords  

Separate holding cords are usually the finished length + at least 8 inches.

Double the length if the cords are folded.



Step 3: Cutting Lengths for Added Cords

Added Cord
  To widen an area in a design, you sometimes need to add cords.

In this image, extra cords were added to make the body of the Shopping Bag wider than the upper edge of it.  Some of these cords were shorter than the original cords mounted, since they were placed lower down, and used to tie fewer knots.


Start by determining where you will be adding the cords (top, middle or bottom), since the cord measurements will be different in each area:

If they are added near the starting point (top), the cords should be the same length as the primary cords for the body.

When adding close to the middle, they should be 1/2 the size as the others.

For cords added near the bottom, use 1/4 the size of the primary cords.


Step 4: Cutting Lengths for Extra Cords


Cord measurements also include any extra cords needed for specific knots, fringe, decorations, wrapping rings, etc.

Wrapped Knot clasp

For Sliding Clasps, I always use 18-inch cords.

I save any scraps if they are 18 inches or more, so I can use them for these types of clasps.


Wrapped Knot   For Wrapped Knots, I usually cut the extra cords 36 to 45 inches, since it's easier to make the knot if the cord is longer than necessary.


WRAPPING RINGS require more material than you'd expect.

The cord measurements depend on the size of the ring, as well as the size material.


Wrapping Rings  

Width of ring x 3.14 = AREA to be covered.

  • 6mm material -- Multiply the area by 8
  • 4mm material -- multiply the area by 12

FRINGE:  Extra cords are often added to make fringe in certain areas of Macrame projects.  Your cord measurements need to include these cords.


In this Macrame Santa, the mustache and beard were added to the face, and are considered a fringe.

You need to cut these extra cords the length of the fringe + 4 inches.

Double the length if the cords are folded.


Macrame Cord Divider

Total Amount to Purchase

Now that the cord measurements are done, it's time to add things up to determine how much material you need.

IMPORTANT: Most materials are sold by the yard or in meters. But some are sold by the foot, so be aware of that when you purchase supplies.
Cotton Cord

 Here are some basic conversions:

  • 36 inches = 1 yard
  • 12 inches = 1 foot
  • 1 yard = 3 feet
  • 36 inches = 0.9 meters
  • 1 inch = 25 millimeters

Make the following calculations for the cords in each group (those for body, holding cords, extras, etc.)

          Length of cords (in inches) x number of cords = total

Next, add the numbers from all the groups.

Divide by 36 to get the YARDS needed for the entire project.

For cord material sold in METERS, use the same measurement.

For cord material sold by the FOOT, you divide the total by 12 instead of 36. 

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Have any questions about Cord Measurements? Contact Me.

Macrame Cord Divider

Macrame Secrets Revealed