Synthetic materials are frequently used in
Macrame projects. This page contains a
description of several common types, along with
tips and advice.
The image above shows the most popular
types: Olefin, Parachute cord, Nylon
beading cord, and Satin cord.
The information includes common sizes, general
and unique properties, styles available, and
The term SYNTHETIC means the fibers are made
through a chemical process.
NATURAL means the fibers are made from plants or
animals. Those materials are on a separate pagecalledNatural
Materials. Click on the link
to view that page.
Of all the synthetic materials you can use for
Macrame, Olefin is the most suitable. It is
sometimes called Poly-Olefin.
It's often sold specifically for Macrame, since it
has all the right features.
Here in the
USA, the Pepperell Braiding company
Braid, which is shown in this
image and the ones below.
You can get it from the MACRAME
Olefin comes in 2mm to 8mm sizes
The most common sizes for Macrame projects
are 4mm and 6mm.
Like other synthetic materials, Olefin is
resistant to stain and mildew. It can be
washed by hand and air dried.
It is a great choice for outdoor
projects, such as hanging tables and
like hammocks made with 6mm
Olefin material can safely hold 200 pounds
or more, depending on how they are
The color can fade in bright sunlight, so
any Macrame items that remain outdoors
should be protected and covered.
Olefin is lightweight and very flexible. It has
very little stretch, which is important if you are
making something heavy.
The texture is usually soft, but some of the older
brands are more coarse.
Good quality Olefin will have a waxy feel and will
be slightly shiny.
Olefin comes in both braided and twisted
The twisted style is harder to find than
the braided type. It unravels
easily, so the tips need to be prepared
Quality: Olefin can be brushed to
form very soft fringes and tassels.
You won't get the same level of smoothness
if you do this with other synthetic
Quality: Olefin can be
melted with a flame when preparing and
finishing the cords, but some colors will
turn black when heated.
Test a small piece beforehand, to make
sure it actually MELTS rather than burns.
The average price for 100
yards (US Dollars):
$9.00 - $15.00
4mm size = $5.00 - $10.00
2mm size = $5.00 - $8.00
8mm size = $10.00 - $15.00 (hard to find)
Synthetic materials made with nylon were
originally developed as a substitute for silk,
which is still expensive.
These cord materials come in a variety of bright
colors, and are often shiny in appearance.
There are several types of nylon
suitable for Macrame.
Beading cord, Parachute cord, and Satin
are described separately below.
Most Nylon materials for beading are 0.5
to 1.5mm in diameter.
This is S-Lon Beading Cord, a popular type
of 1mm nylon that's used for Micro-Macrame
Fine Nylon beading cord is strong and very
flexible, and will form tight knots. The
material is soft, smooth, and comfortable on the
Because all types of nylon material tend to be
slippery, make sure you tighten all the knots as
much as possible
Style: Beading cord made with nylon
can be either braided or twisted when
manufactured. The image shown above is a
twisted form of nylon.
materials like nylon can be so shiny, they
are often labeled as
Shown here is a braided style nylon
Quality: Some brands of nylon
can be prepared and finished with a flame, where
you melt the ends of the cords.
Test the material first to make sure it MELTS
rather than burns.
The price for nylon cord varies depending on where
you get it. But it's usually less than $5.00
USD for 75 - 100 yards.
called Paracord, this type of nylon
material is often used to make safety
bracelets and survival gear.
It has several core yarns and an outer
sleeve, which makes it very strong.
Parachute cord comes in 1mm to
6mm sizes, which are listed below
The most common is size 550, which was
used to make this Bootlace
Nano Size = 0.75mm
Micro Size = 1.2mm
Size 95 = 1.75mm
Type 1 = 1.85mm
Best Sizes for
Size 275 = 2.4mm
Size 325 = 3mm
Size 450 = 3.5mm
Size 550 = 4mm
Size 650 = 4mm - 4.5mm
Size 750 = 5mm
Some sources will say that 550 Parachute cord can
hold up to 550 pounds, but there are factors that
can weaken it. For example, knots can
reduce the strength by over 50%. Water
can also weaken the fibers.
Since you are combining several cords when you
make a Macrame project, the strength is usually
not all that important. When using
this material for a Hammock, Swing, or Hanging
table, you should periodically check for signs of
weakening, especially if it stays outdoors.
The flexibility of Paracord depends on the
size. Knots like Double Half Hitches are a
challenge to tighten adequately when using 550
size (4mm), due to the bulkiness of the
For designs requiring tight knots, it's best to
use size 325
Paracord is smooth and comfortable against the
skin. Some brands are very slippery, so
tighten all the knots as much as possible.
Parachute cord has a braided outer sleeve
surrounding one or more core yarns, which are
Quality: When preparing Parachute
cord, you should always cut the core yarns
down to the edge of the outer sleeve.
Then apply a flame to the outer
sleeve to melt the material and
seal in the core.
The average price for Parachute cord is between
$5.00 - 8.00 for 100 feet, which is about 33 yards
Large rolls of 1000 feet (330 yards) are between
$50.00 and $70.00.
Of all the synthetic materials, Satin
is the most luxurious. It is a type of
nylon material suitable for many
projects, especially jewelry.
Satin can also be made with rayon,
which is cellulose (wood pulp) that's
been chemically changed.
cord is usually 1mm to 3mm in size, so is used
primarily for jewelry.
Properties: Like all synthetic
materials, Satin nylon is very strong. It's
also very flexible, but not stretchy.
It's best to use this type of cord material in
projects that have loosely tied knots, since it's
slippery. Tight knots don't usually stay
made with rayon is slightly more flexible than the
nylon, but the knots have a tendency to loosen
Both nylon and
rayon varieties are VERY luxurious and
soft. The smooth texture is one of
the reasons Satin is so popular.
Satin will sometimes darken when glue is applied,
so always test the glue on a small piece
first. Let it dry to see if the dark color
is permanent, then decide if you still wish to use
Finishing or preparing with a flame may not work
out well, because Satin material made with RAYON
doesn't melt. And you don't always know
which type you have.
ALWAYS do a test
to make sure the material melts and doesn't
The price range for Satin cord:
25 to 50 yards = $5.00
100 - 200 yards = $7.00 - $15.00
Synthetic materials made with Polyester
fibers used to be difficult to find, but
This material has always been a very
popular choice for Micro-Macrame.
brand is 1mm in diameter, and is used
for Micro-Macrame and beading.
Polyester is larger sizes (width) can be found
online, but it's not easy to locate a
supplier. Shipping supply companies
sometimes have polyester rope, which is 4mm or
Polyester material is very flexible, and produces
tight knots. It's strong has very little to
no stretching, so can be used for heavy items.
It's smooth and comfortable against the
skin. Some brands are shiny, but not as much
Polyester is resistant to mildew, and dries
quickly, making it a great material for outdoor
Polyester cord materials are usually
braided during manufacture.
You'll sometimes see those referred to as
You can find twisted styles, but they are
not as common.
Qualities: Polyester retains it's
shape, even after washing and drying. So
Macrame projects like place mats, clothing, and
handbags are suitable uses for this product.
Many brands of Polyester are popular synthetic
materials because they can be melted for
preparation and finishing.
Always do a test with a small piece of material to
make sure it does not burn or darken.
Linhasita brand cord is usually sold in small
quantities of 10 - 15 yards, which the average
price is $2.00 (US dollars).
The average price for 150 - 250 yards of other
brands is $10.00.
Yarn is often
made from synthetic materials. They
have different properties than cord, but
you can use yarn for a variety of Macrame
This synthetic yarn is Acrylic, and
Polyester is also easy to find.
All yarns are sold by weight, so it's hard to
determine the actual width of the material until
you receive it and measure. Only a few
brands will state on the label the actual width,
and quantity in the roll.
The best sizes for Macrame are:
Medium = 3mm to 4mm
Bulky = 5mm to 6mm
Super-bulky = 8mm to 9mm
Keep in mind that yarn compresses so much that the
knots will be smaller
than expected. Super-bulky size
yarn will produce knots similar to those tied with
4mm cord material.
Just about all types of yarn will be weak compared
to other synthetic materials. Some brands
have quite a bit of stretch when pulled, which is
why yarn is good for clothing.
I recommend you use yarn only when making small
items or decorations.
Most yarn is extremely flexible. It may be
too flexible for some Macrame projects. (See
unique properties below)
Acrylic yarns are NOT smooth, they are
fuzzy. Yarn is soft and feels nice
against the skin.
Most people don't like it for jewelry, but
it works well for Macrame clothing like
shawls, scarves and vests.
Acrylic Yarn is usually a twisted style
Polyester yarn comes in several unique styles,
which are described below.
Yarn usually 4mm to 6mm thick. It's
not braided or twisted, but actually one
piece sewn to form a tube. It is
extremely soft and
You can't see the knots very well with
Fur Yarn is
very unique. It's often used for boa
It's composed of a single strand of
polyester cord, with a soft fringe sewn
is similar to Fur Yarn, but the polyester
cord is narrower and the fringe is much
This is a great material to use when
making Macrame birds or other
animals. It usually comes in more
colors than Fur Yarn.
You can find
yarn that has been treated to make it
metallic gold or silver.
It won't be as flexible as ordinary yarn,
but will be softer than other types of
Qualities: Yarn compresses a lot
more than other types of synthetic materials, so
the knots will be extremely
hard to remove if you make a mistake.
The knots have a tendency to blend in so much that
you can't really see them clearly. Keep that
in mind if you choose to use yarn instead of other
Do not use a
flame for preparation or finishing,
unless you have tested the material first to make
sure it MELTS rather than burns.
Synthetic yarn is easy to find online and in
stores. The average price for yarn varies greatly.
One roll is usually between $2.00 and $8.00 (US
dollars), depending on the type. Acrylic
yarn is less expensive than Polyester.
It's hard to determine how much is in one roll,
because it's sold by weight rather than
length. Some brands will say on the
label how much is in the roll, but not
always. So you will often need to purchase
several rolls to make sure you have enough for
using any text or images on Free Macrame
Patterns, you are agreeing to ourTerms