You may have seen macrame at least once in your entire life but were unaware of what it is. In most cases, you will find it used in fantastic art projects. Using it for an art project requires you to have a lot of the material to build something out of it. The good news is these products are cheap and comes in several color and style options. It is also widely available in hobby stores, book stores, school supply stores, and even department stores. If you are not of fan of shopping in-store, you can also find them online.
We put together this article to guide you with the essential things you need to know about cotton cord. After reading this article, you will know the uses of it, some brief history, properties to look out for, where to buy them, and the difference between a macrame rope and cord. We’ll also show you the best macrame cotton cords you could possibly want!
Before we dive any deeper into the topic, it is best to know a little bit of history. In this way, you will have a firmer understanding. The history of it started several thousands of years ago. People have different beliefs as to where the term came from. Some think it comes from migramah, a 13th-century Arabic word, meaning fringe. Another group of people believes it comes from the Turkish word “makrama”, meaning towel or napkin. These people think it is a way to secure weaving pieces. Large amounts of threads are placed on the top or bottom part of a woven fabric.
Whatever its etymology is, its first appearance was in the carvings of the Assyrians and Babylonians. It appears that they use fringed braiding as accessories to costumes. Arab weaves during the 13th-century used it as decorative knots for towels, veils, and shawls. It slowly made its way to Europe via Africa.
The craze only reached England during the Victorian era. It was only in the 17th-century that it made its way to England. Queen Mary taught gave lectures to her court ladies. At this point in history, most homes in England had some macrame decoration in the form of tablecloths, bedspreads, curtains, covers, and so much more.
For the rest of the world, sailors were the ones largely responsible for spreading it. These sailors did projects with the material as a way to pass the time. American and British sailors in the 19th-century made bell fringes, hammocks, belts, and several other items. After a while, it faded out and had only resurged in the 1970s as a symbol of the Bohemian style. In the present time, we use it in several crafts and continuously find ways to use it.
What is it used for?
Macrame, commonly referred to as knotting, is a versatile craft form that lets you do several projects, from decorative arts, fashion accessories, planting accessories, house accessories, and so much more.
There are a lot of materials to choose from when doing macrame. Some materials you can use are hemp, yarn, jute, and cotton twine. The crafter has control over the complexity of the project. It can be something as simple as a plant hanger or as complex as a messenger bag.
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There are a few different types. Remember that it is a general term used to describe all types of fiber we use. The weaver has the freedom to choose which material to use. Below are some of the common types of fabric used.
Weavers typically use yarn in weaving or knitting, but we can also use it in macrame. You can use either unplied or plied, which means a single strand of yarn or several strands of yarn twisted together. Manufacturers typically use wool when making yarn.
The downside with using knitting yarns is that the end product will most likely look like cloth where the knots will not stand out. Unplied, thick yarn is best for softer items, such as baskets and rugs. However, it is not the best option for plant hangers and wall hangings.
The rope is the most common material we use in making macrame. Ropes are always plied, which is the reason for their thickness and extra strength. It comes in different types, but the most common is the twisted three-ply cotton rope. The fringes form a wavy pattern, making it very attractive. It is also available in a six-ply option, but we only recommend this if you need so much strength. Its number one selling point is that it creates distinctive knots.
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The string is the opposite of a rope. Several thin fibers are twisted together to create a single strand. In terms of composition, it is softer than a rope and forms tighter knots. The negative side of a string is that its prone to uneven thickness and expansion.
Since it is soft, string is easy to fringe and adds a soft appearance to whatever project you are doing. Ropes would have a wavy fringe effect, while strings will appear fine and straight.
Waxed cords are usually small in diameter and can either be unplied or plied. Wax covers the cord to make it water-resistant and stronger. It also prevents it from fraying on either side. Do keep in mind that waxing it makes its appearance darker, but it still comes with a wide selection of color choices.
What to look for?
When searching for this type of product, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure high quality. Since every project is unique, the considerations for each of the points below may not always be the same.
|What to look for?|
Among the five factors, the material is likely the most important one. The material affects the strength, aesthetics, and overall look of the project. Most weavers use cotton in crafting projects since it is inexpensive and works well with beginners. The softness of cotton makes it perfect for hanging art, jewelry, and any other type of fashion accessories. It is also easy to untie cotton cords in case of mistakes.
If you are looking to build a project that needs durable and strong materials, such as large plant holders and bags, pick a stronger material, like nylon or jute. Picking stronger materials help the item last for a longer time. It can also provide more support for heavy objects. It is important to know that materials such as silk, jute, and hemp are more expensive than cotton.
When taking a closer look at a cord, you will notice smaller strands make up the cord itself. These are either twisted or braided.
Macrame art usually uses twisted cords because it helps in achieving the look and feel of the art. However, the strands in a twisted cord are likely to separate from those in a braided one.
Braided ones are more structurally defined. The strands will unlikely separate. However, the downside with these is they are thicker and stiffer than twisted ones.
Stiffness and Thickness
Choosing the stiffness and thickness of a cord depends on the pattern you are trying to achieve. Large-scale projects typically require a cord that is 5mm to 6mm thick. Some examples of large-scale projects are wall hangers, table runners, and large plant holders.
For smaller projects such as necklaces, earrings, and similar fashion accessories, thinner ones about 3mm or less are perfect. It complements one’s look without adding bulk to it. If you plan to use buttons or beads, make sure the cord can slide right into it.
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The length you will need for your project depends on how big and detailed it will be. If you decide to add pattern designs, that will go on top of the length you need.
Always buy the correct length for whatever project you will be making. It is better to buy more than what you need. In case you make a mistake, there is always a spare one to use. When buying them, avoid any differences in thickness or textures.
For example, if you will be using several spools of dyed cords, buy one from the same dye lot. Having different dye lots may result in color changes. You can find the dye lot information in the product information or packaging.
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The texture adds a touch of personality to your project. It is most important when making products that are having regular contact with your skin, such as fashion accessories and chairs.
The material also determines the texture. Synthetic materials are often smoother to the skin, making them the perfect choice for accessory projects. On the other hand, natural materials are rougher to touch, making them the perfect choice for home decorations.
Where is the best place to buy it?
Similar to other similar art materials, it is fairly easy to find in-store and online. However, your best option is to buy online or at specialty stores. The cords from these stores are typically cheaper and are of higher quality.
If you are looking to buy online, you can find a variety of options from these online stores, however, if you make your purchase through the retailer we recommend, you are helping us out, at no extra cost to you. With the help of your DIY project, you can help support the development of our site:
- Niroma Studio
- Modern Macrame
- HolmMade Macrame
- The Lark’s Head
On the other hand, if you plan to buy in-store, your best options are the following retail stores:
- Hobby Lobby
- Blick Art Materials
Take note your options are not limited to the abovementioned stores. Several other stores sell macrame.
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What is the difference between a macrame cord and rope?
Macrame rope and cord are two terms often interchanged. In this section, we will define each term to avoid any further confusion.
A macrame cord, or a sash cord, typically has at least six strands of braided cord. It is stiff and is usually difficult to untie. However, it is durable, making it perfect for heavy projects.
The ropes have three strands twisted with each other. It is less durable than a cord but is stronger than a string. When untwisting the rope, you will notice a wavy effect on the rope. It adds a bit of texture to whatever project you are doing. A great fact about this type of rope is it expands after it gets cut. Its expansion involves several environmental conditions. At times, it expands up to 1mm.
Knowing where and what you will be using it for is a good start. Once you have that, you can easily pick between the type of style that suits your creative project the best.
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