From chairs to planters to blankets to wall art, macrame is a beautiful, durable textile art that is as simple as it is rewarding to create.
It’s very on-trend these days as a DIY practice but has a cultural history that has spanned more than a millennium.
Keep reading to learn more about the history of macrame, macrame basics, and how to create your own macrame wall hanging!
What Is Macrame
Macrame is not a definitive pattern or material. It’s simply the act of crafting using knots to create textile art. For a project to “be macrame,” it must include at least one macrame knot.
As a practice, the macrame technique has been around for thousands of years.
Some date the art back to the 13th century, others back as far as the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians.
Either way, the history of macrame involves a migration to the West from ancient Arabic countries through colonialism and globalization.
Upon arriving in Europe, macrame became a popular pastime. In the Victorian era of Western Europe, you could find macrame art and textiles throughout most homes.
From ladies in waiting to sailors, many different groups of people from different time periods worldwide have practiced macrame for different purposes.
For sailors, macrame was created and used as a protective barrier for personal items and effects at sea.
Today, due to its ease and accessibility, macrame is widely practiced as a textile art.
Why Make Your Own Macrame Wall Hanging
Sure, you can buy macrame wall art or hangings. But where’s the fun in that?
Making your own is a much more rewarding (and inexpensive!) process.
It will feel way more fulfilling to take the macrame wall hanging you made and hang it on the wall than to purchase one already created.
Aside from that, practicing macrame can also help your well-being!
Like knitting or crocheting, making macrame can be a form of kinetic meditation. Kinetic meditation is a movement-based way to release stress and improve focus.
After some practice and experience, the motion of tying macrame knots becomes secondhand, thus keeping your body busy and focusing any anxious energy into your hands while your mind is free to relax.
Overall, making your own macrame wall hanging is a gratifying and enriching activity that can help soothe your mind and settle anxious feelings.
What You Need to Get Started
You’ll need a few things on hand to get started on a simple DIY macrame wall hanging.
First, you’ll need some kind of cord! For the most part, what you choose to use is up to your preference.
Some examples of cord materials include jute, cotton, yarn, twine, hemp, and even leather.
You’ll need a stick or dowel to mount your macrame wall hanging and cast your cord onto.
Additionally, you’ll need scissors and measuring tape. And that’s it! You can dress your macrame wall hanging up and decorate it, but those four things will cover your basics.
If you do choose to add some glitz and glamor to your macrame wall hanging, wooden beads, fabric paint, or different colored yarn are all great options to have on hand.
If you’re working from a template or pattern, you’ll need that too, of course.
While macrame is a fairly simple practice of tying knots, not just any knot will do.
For beginners, there are five basic macrame knots that can get you started on almost any project: Lark’s Head, Square, Half-Hitch, Double Half-Hitch, and Spiral Knots.
Almost all other macrame knots begin with a Lark’s Head knot, so tackling that one first is crucial. You use the Lark’s Head knot to attach your cord to the dowel.
To start, fold your cord in half and pass it over the support to create a loop. Pull the ends of the cord through the loop, pull them tight, and you have a Lark’s Head knot!
From there, you can build off the Lark’s Head knot to create all different kinds of knots!
Another knot you will probably find yourself using often is the Square knot.
Start with two Lark’s Head knots, leaving you with four ends. Then, take the far left cord and cross it over the middle two.
Next, take the far right cord and place it over the top of the left, but under the two middle cords and pull it tight through the new loop you’ve created.
Repeat these steps starting with the right side this time, and voila! You have a Square Knot!
Now, you have the basics for beginner’s macrame knots and are ready to start your first project.
Mistakes to Avoid
Part of trying something new typically involves learning by error. No one does anything perfectly the first time, and that’s okay!
But, to save you some time, here are just a few mishaps to try and avoid when starting a macrame wall hanging.
Measuring Cord Incorrectly
First and foremost, you need to have the right amount of cord or rope to actually complete the project. You can run into a few issues here.
It’s important to pay very close attention to the metric used for purchasing your cord.
If you determine you need 100 yards of cord and buy 100 feet instead, you’ll run out of cord very quickly!
You also need a lot more length than you think. The cord you work with should be at least four times as long as the finished product.
If you’re folding your cord in half, it should be eight times as long.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t working with a pattern or template that clearly states how much material you need, you’ll have to do some math to figure it out.
One good way to determine this is to measure your dowel or whatever you’re casting your macrame wall hanging project onto.
Then, measure the width of the cord or rope you want to use and divide the length of the dowel by that number. This should tell you how many cords you can fit across your dowel.
Now, if you’re project is going to be fifteen inches, and you aren’t folding the cord, each cord should be sixty inches long, or five feet.
Multiply the number of cords you need by five, and you have your final count. It’s always good to have some extra, just in case.
Not Practicing Knots Beforehand
Another preemptive strike you can take to make your first macrame project go a bit smoother is to practice your knots beforehand.
If this is your first DIY macrame wall hanging, the different knots can be a little intimidating.
To help build your confidence going into your project, take some of the cord you intend to use and do some practice knots on it, just to get your hands used to the movement.
Pulling too Tight (or not Pulling Tight Enough)
Similar to knitting or crocheting, keeping the right amount of tension in your knots is important.
If you pull too tight, you won’t be able to build onto the knots or weave in any ends. If they’re too loose, they may look messy, and your knots might fall apart.
Keep your knots tight but not so tight that the tension causes them to curl.
How to Make a Macrame Wall Hanging: Six Simple Steps
1. Cut and Measure Cord
Before you get started, make sure you first have enough cord. Then, you’ll want to measure out the right amount.
For this macrame wall hanging, you’ll want six long pieces of cord, five feet long each, and thirteen shorter pieces, four feet long each.
2. Tie Cord to Dowel
Next, you’ll want to take two of your pre-cut cords and tie off two different Lark’s Head knots.
Then, you’ll want to tie the two Lark’s Heads together with a double half-hitch knot. Repeat the process five times, leaving the last strand out.
Create a Lark’s Head knot on the far left side with the last strand. Then, bring the remaining cord across to make another on the far right side.
The final strand should create a curved line underneath your previously tied knots.
3. Create Central Triangle
Now, to create that signature upside-down triangle pattern common in macrame projects, you’ll take those thirteen shorter strands and repeat the process.
However, this time, you’ll use the last strand from the previous stem that is hanging horizontally rather than the dowel.
4. Add Different Knots
From here, you have a few options. You can stop here and move on to the next step, or if you’re feeling extra crafty, you can keep going!
If you have some extra cord left over, you can keep repeating the steps above until you get a pattern that you like for your macrame wall hanging.
Or, you can add in some different, more decorative knots! You can even tie in some beads or different colored yarn or string.
5. Cut to Desired Length
Regardless of what you do with the previous step, you should have some tails hanging off from the knot pattern. This is another signature macrame look.
If you like the flowy look, you can keep the tails long. You could also cut them shorter into a tassel for a more compact piece.
6. Hang Your Masterpiece!
The final step is to hang up your macrame wall hanging! No instructions are needed, just enjoy how pretty your hard work looks hanging up in your space.
Tying up Loose Ends: Final Thoughts on DIY Macrame Wall Hangings
All in all, DIY-ing your own macrame wall hanging is an infinitely more rewarding process than buying one in a store.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s as easy as pie!
For more macrame projects to try, check out our guides on how to create macrame earrings or necklaces.