How to Make a Macrame Bag

handbag and hats image by Charlie Rosenberg from

A macrame bag is made by weaving and tying knots of macrame cord and adding your own creative touches. You can choose many colors to make a bright bag or choose different shades of one color. Add in any beads or sequins to make a really unique accessory. To learn the various knots required for projects such as this, visit the websites Learn Macrame and Creativity Portal (see Resources).

Decide on a pattern such as a shopping bag and buy the materials needed for the project. Start making the handles for the shopping bag; cut two cords 180 inches (5 yards) for each. Now cut six cords, each 144 inches (4 yards) and lay them on your work surface: one 5-yard cord, six 4-yard cords and one 5-yard cord lay vertically.

Tie a braid of 10 square knots, working with the longest strands and four strands as fillers. Number the strands moving left to right starting with the long cords 1 and 8. Tie four square knots with cords 1 through 4 and then six square knots with cords 5 through 8.

Turn the work around and tie 10 square knots as you did in the beginning of Step 2. Now number the strands again; 1 and 8 are the longest cords. Tie six square knots with cords 1 through 4 and 4 square knots with cords 5 through 8. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make the second handle for the shopping bag. Attach your handles to the project board so they curve, place the dowel on top of the cords and secure each cord to the dowel using larks head knots.

Add any beads or embellishments to the strings in between the knots. You can do this as you go, randomly placing them on different cords and tying knots to hold them on. You can also create a beaded pattern within your bag by placing beads strategically on coordinating cords throughout your bag.

Take 12 cords, cutting each to a length of 128 inches or 3.5 yards. Secure two of the cords to the right end of the dowel using larks head knots. Repeat this for the same position at the end of the same dowel. Repeat this step for the other half of the shopping bag.

Take the first row of alternating square knots and move from left to right, tying six square knots. Now reverse the direction and make six mirror square knots to complete the row. Alternate the cords as you continue making square knots, ignoring the two strands that are on the far left and right. This time tie six square knots and five mirror square knots.

Alternate the cords and, ignoring the two strands on the furthest ends of the right and left, create five square knots and five mirror knots. Repeat Steps 4 to 6 for the other half of the body of the shopping bag.

Cut eight cords to begin the sides of the bag. Each should be 128 inches, again 3.5 yards. Take two cords and fold in half, securing them to your board. Tie a square knot close to the fold and tighten it by pulling on the ends. Repeat this process with the remaining strands (you should have six). When you are done you will have four sets of cords.

Take two of the knots and position next to the strand furthest to the left edge and secure to your board. Repeat for the right side. Number your cords 1 through 64 and work this pattern.

Work a square knot with cords 3 through 6, with cords 7 through 10, work a mirror square knot, and with cords 55 through 58 and 59 through 62 work a square knot.

Begin a mirror square knot with cords 53 through 56, cords 57 through 60 make a square knot, cords 5 through 8 and 9 through 12 make a square knot. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for the other half of the shopping bag.

Hold both halves together, putting the insides facing each other. Work the following knots, one square knot with cords 1 and 2 and 63 and 64. Alternate cords 61 through 64 and cords 1 through 4 and tie square knots. Turn the bag around and repeat this step, which will be joining both halves.

Take the alternating square knots to design the lower body with cords 3 through 6 making square knots, cords 7 through 10 making mirror square knots, cords 11 through 62 tie square knot with groups of four strands, and 63, 64, 1, 2 make square knots. Repeat for the other side of the bag.

Take cords 1 through 52 and tie the next row with alternating square knots. With cords 53 through 56 tie a mirror square knot and cords 57 through 60 and 61 through 64 make a square knot. Repeat this process for the opposite end. To complete the body repeat Steps 12 and 13. To complete the remainder of the bag alternate between each step. Continue until you reach approximately 10 inches of remaining cord.

Turn the shopping bag inside out to start closing the bottom. Begin on a corner. Pick up two strands that are closest to the corner and make a square knot with no fillers. Take the next two strands from both halves and tie a square knot with the four cords. Keep one working cord from one half of the purse and the other cord from the second half of the purse.

Repeat Step 14 twice up to the fillers and then Step 14 again through the next two strands for the three corners remaining. Take the remaining strands and make square knots along the bottom, again taking two cords from the front and two cords from the back. Trim the ends to 1 inch. To secure the knots, take fabric glue and place a bit on the bottom of the knot. Let dry.