If you’re new to macrame, like I once was, you’ll often find yourself doing a lot research around the topic of macrame cord. I found it can be confusing to distinguish between all the different types of macrame cord out there and which one I should use.
In this post, we’ll be going over the topic of macrame cord in full detail and by the end of the post, you should have a clear understanding the different types of macrame cord and it’s purpose. Let’s begin by defining what is macrame cord.
Macrame cord is a group of fibers/strands twisted or braided together, and is then used to be tied or knotted together to form a textile art known as macrame.
Many of you who are just beginning will often read or hear macrame cord being referred to as either macrame rope, yarn, or strings. Often times, macrame cord is used interchangeably with these synonyms.
It can be difficult for new beginners to know what each word means so let’s take a deeper dive into macrame cord, and the different types of cords you should know of. That way, you are able to choose the right cord for your future macrame projects.
When I first started macrame, I had no idea there were different types of cord. I assumed macrame cord was just plain-jane rope and it was what was needed to make macrame. I didn’t know ]there were all sorts of fibers that could be used for your projects. Little did I know at the time, not all macrame cord is made equal.
Let us break it down. The three different types of Macrame cord are:
- 3-ply / 3 Strand
- Single Strand
The majority of the macrame projects you see online will often fall into one of these categories.
Macrame Braided Cord
Braided cord or also referred to as Macrame rope is your typical macrame cord that you’ll find at your big box retail stores, Hobby lobby, Michaels, and even Wal-mart.
Most macrame beginners will start off by purchasing braided cord because it is the most affordable and easiest way to begin macrame. Generally, it is braided cord available at most craft stores and big box retailers. Most people run to their local store to buy whatever cord they can find when they want to start right away. After completing a few macrame projects, they will quickly discover braided cord is not the most suitable type of cord for making macrame. The reason for this is because braided cord is essentially rope made up individually or a combination of cotton, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, or other strong fibers. It’s great for tying things together and giving it a strong hold, but is difficult to un-knot and fringe with.
With that being said, using braided cord is not a bad place to get started. It gets the job done and you can end up with a decently finished project. More often than not, you’ll find yourself transitioning to either 3-ply or the most commonly used macrame cord – single strand cord.
You may often hear the use of macrame rope and cord. They are typically speaking about a similar thing. How I differentiate between the two is that rope is typically braided or 3-ply cord and cord is an all encompassing term for fibers, string and rope.
Macrame 3-Ply / 3-Stands Cord
3-ply is also referred to as 3-stands cord. It is made up of 3 smaller strands into a large twisted rope. You will often hear macrame artists speak about using 3-ply or 4-ply macrame cord and that just means the number of strands twisted together to form one single strand of cord. Below you’ll be able to visually see the difference between 3-Ply and 4-Ply.
Once you start getting into macrame cords that are more than 3 strands, this is what is referred to as multi-ply, where you can have 4, 5, or 6-strands all spun together to form one strand. As you can see from the 1st picture above, there are 4 strands twisted together to form a single strand of rope.
Macrame Single Strand Cord
Single strand cotton cord is by far the best type of macrame cord to choose from if you are deciding to get into macrame as a regular hobby or full time gig. Single strand cord is typically more expensive and therefore, if you do not want to splurge right away on expensive cord, find some cheaper cotton cord on amazon and start with those.As long as it is comfortable on the hands, it will be great to learn from. It will make it much easier cutting cord, tying knots, unraveling knots, and fringing the cord.
Now that you have an understanding on the 3 different types of macrame cord, let’s discuss 4 key points on what you should look for when deciding what macrame cord to use on your macrame projects.
Macrame Cord Composition
Natural or Synthetic Fiber
The make up of macrame cord falls into 2 parts, – Natural or Synthetic fibers.
Natural fibers are fibers produced naturally in the environment. They are produced by plants, animals, or geological processes. Examples of natural fibers are cotton, linen, jute, wool, and hemp.
All of these fibers can be naturally broken down and recycled.
The other alternative is synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers are made from synthesized polymers of small molecules. The compounds used to make these fibers come from raw materials such as petroleum based chemicals or petrochemicals. Examples of synthetic fibers are nylon, polyester, and spandex.
Macrame Cord Texture
Macrame feel, touch, appearance, finish, and texture
If you have seen a variety of macrame cords, you will notice every spool of cord has a different feel, finish and texture to it. Getting a sense of the different types cord texture is a crucial part to knowing your macrame cords.
The more macrame pieces you make, the quickly you’ll discover textures play a huge role in all of your macrame projects.
If you’re going to make a purchase on macrame cord online, try different brands suppliers and see what texture fits you. You will find that not all macrame cotton cords are made equal. The texture and feel to the cords may vary from one supplier to the other.
Macrame Cord Size
Length and diameter
Knowing cord size is also very important when creating your desired macrame project. The size of cord plays a crucial role in the visual appearance of macrame projects.
We won’t be going into great detail on macrame cord sizes. If you’re interested, we do have another article that goes over the different sizes of macrame cord. What Size of Macrame cord do I use for my projects.
For simplicity, macrame cord can be broken down into 3 size categories – small, medium, and large.
- Small Macrame Cord – is typically your 1-2 mm diameter size cord. You’ll often find these strings used in making jewelry to thread through beads and buttons, and small-detailed craft projects.
- Medium Macrame Cord – is where you will find the majority of all macrame projects are made. It is typically between 3mm-5mm. Most frequently, you’ll often go with 3mm or 4mm. These sizes are often used for plant hangers, wall hangings, lanterns, curtains, rugs, etc.
- Large Macrame Cord – This will be your BIG macrame pieces. This will be in the range of anything 6mm and above. Usually, these large sizes are used to cover large areas of space. You will find the knots tend to be fewer, but much larger.
What Cord Do You Use For Macrame?
The most straight-forward answer is: it depends.
For me personally, I would recommend using 3mm-4mm Single Strand Cotton Cord. If you have tried a few projects using cheaper cord and you’re now comfortable investing in some nicer cord for better quality projects, then single strand cord may be right for you. If you are a brand new beginner and want to start using the best cord right away, then by all means you can do that as well.
The reason why I would recommend using single strand cord is because it will enhance your macrame experience . Tying knots and unraveling them will be less of a struggle. Cutting cords and fringing won’t have to feel like hard-labor and most importantly, your macrame projects will come out aesthetically pleasing.
Macrame Beginners / Occasional Knotters
I know not everyone is at the same stage in their macrame journey, so my recommendation might not be applicable to everyone. If you’re new to this craft, I would recommend using any rope you have laying around to practice. If not, get some cheap cord from your local craft store if you are eager to start right away or get some off amazon . This cord from Amazon is better than the cord you can find at your local craft store. Use this cord to practice tying macrame knots, patterns and sequences. This is the most cost effective macrame cord to get you started. Start off by making smaller macrame projects like key chains or macrame feather patterns to get a feel for making the knots.
Macrame Lovers & Enthusiasts
For those of you looking to develop your macrame knotting techniques and to showcase your projects, I would recommend high quality 3mm-4mm Single Strand Cotton Cord.
The soft feel and ease of knotting, along side the effortless fringing, makes for the best type of macrame cord to use. I use it for 99% of my macrame projects.
Bochiknot Macrame offers the highest-quality macrame cotton cord online. If you’re looking to get started on macrame projects, 1 spool of 3mm single stand cotton cord will be plenty of cord to get you going.
1 spool of macrame cord should be able to get you 2 to 3 medium sized macrame projects. If you’re looking for just a bit more, so you don’t run out of macrame cord, 2 spools would be more than enough to cover current and future macrame projects.
We offer macrame cords, beginner-friendly kits, ebook patterns and online tutorials at Bochiknot.com/shop. Feel free to browse our online store for any of your macrame needs.
Hope this blog post gave you a bit more clarity and knowledge on macrame cord.
Have fun macrame-ing!
Also check out: How to Choose The Best Macrame Cord For Your Next Project
What is the Difference Between Macrame String vs. Macrame Cord?
Macrame string is referred to as thinner cord. I would consider 1 mm to 2 mm sized cords to be macrame string.
What is the Best Size of Cord for Macrame?
The best size of rope for macrame will depend on what type of style and look you are trying to accomplish. For small, intricate designs, you will be looking between 1-2mm. For your everyday regular macrame plant hangers / wall hangings, it will be 3-5mm. And for larger macrame piece, you will be looking at anything 6mm or above.