Making knotted cord jewelry is tons of fun, but it’s somewhat unforgiving. If you make a mistake, it can be difficult to correct it if your knots are nice and tight like they should be. And if you run out of cord before you’re ready, well….there’s not much you can do about that, besides finding a creative way to incorporate your too-short piece into another design. These tips will hopefully save you a lot of time and heartache :)

Check out the video and the tips below to help figure out how much cord to use for your knotted cord jewelry projects:

*If you are unable to see the embedded video you can watch the playlist here on YouTube:*

>> *Cord Knotting Tips and Tricks <<*

# Cord Knotting: How Much Cord do I Need to Start With?

Follow these 3 steps to help determine how much cord to start with for each cord knotting project before you get started. You’ll save a lot of frustration and tears ;)

**1.) Plan Ahead.**

Try to plan out your entire design before you make the first knot. How long do you want your finished piece to be? How many knots are you going to want – do you want a knot between each bead? Every third bead? Just a couple on the ends? How are you going to finish the piece?

If you’re going to attach a clasp you may need to string the cord back through the last bead if possible after knotting on the clasp. (*More on this coming soon when we talk about pearl knotting*).

If you’re going to use a sliding knot you would need to add several inches on each end after the beaded section is finished. If you’re not sure how much cord you’ll need for that it’s best to grossly overestimate.

Figure out all these things as much as possible before you start. This is the first step to making sure you start your knotting project with a long enough piece of cord.

**2.) Determine your ‘Knot Factor’.**

Each cord will have its own ‘knot factor’. Yes, I think I may have made up that phrase, but we’re going with it, ok?

A 1 millimeter cotton cord is going to make different size knots than a 2 millimeter diameter leather cord. And each knot takes up a certain amount of space, which is what I mean by the term “knot factor”.

**How to find the knot factor of your cord: **

Easy. Measure out a piece of cord that is a nice even number, like 8 inches. Make a single knot in the cord. Measure the cord again and subtract the second number from the first number.

* EXAMPLE:* With the .8mm waxed cord I like to use so much, starting with an 8 inch piece…after I make one knot, the piece now measures 7.75 inches. {8 – 7.75 = .25}. This means that each (single) knot takes up 1/4 inch of cord. The knot factor for this particular cord is .25 inches.

***Keep in mind that the knot factor isn’t just a function of the cord’s diameter.* It also depends on how flexible the cord is and how it behaves when knotted, so you’ll want to do this for each different type and size of cord you use.

For example – the knot factor for my 2 mm round leather cord is 1 inch, and 2 mm soft cotton cord is .5″. The leather is pretty stiff, and the cord is soft and easy to knot tightly so even though the cords are the same diameter, they knot differently and end up with a different knot factor.

**Now that I have the knot factor, how do I figure out how much cord I need? **

**3.) Do the Math. Then add a little extra.**

*WARNING!* I am about to give you a very precise, totally OCD way to figure out exactly how much cord you need to start with. Sometimes you might be working with scraps and need to know if you can do anything with a 10 inch piece of cord, or you may be getting close to the end of your cord supply and not want to waste a single inch.

However, let me tell you this first: If you hate math or planning ahead, and/or don’t mind maybe wasting a little material, it’s better if you can use more than you think you need, since I mentioned before – there’s really no turning back if you run out of cord.

**A general rule of thumb** for a knotted bracelet (using a single cord, not doubled over like sometimes used in pearl knotting) is to start with a piece that’s as long as your arm (from armpit to wrist). If you are working with a doubled cord, you will need to double the length, so start with a piece

*twice*as long as your arm.

For a necklace, the general rule: twice the length of your arm for a single cord, four times the length of your arm if you are doubling the thread over.

** IMPORTANT:** This general rule applies to smaller cords and threads mostly, such as 1 mm cord or smaller. Also, longer necklaces would need longer cords to start out with – this rule is just a guide for the average size necklace which is around 16-18 inches long. I would highly recommend using the formula below as much as possible.

If you need to be very particular in how much cord you need, you can use the following method. Having planned out your design, and knowing your knot factor (steps 1 and 2 above), you can reverse engineer how long your starting cord should be. Here’s an example of how I figure out where to start:

If I want a finished bracelet that is 7 inches of beading plus I need 2 inches at each end (to allow for a clasp or adjustable knot), then I am up to 11 inches, and I still need to account for my knots.

7 ” + 2″ + 2″ = 11″

For a design with 8 single knots and 2 double knots (one at each end of the beading) multiplied by my knot factor of .25, my knots alone will require 3 extra inches of cord. **HINT:** Double knots take up twice as much cord as a single knot so I just count them twice.

12″ x .25″ = 3″

11″ + 3″ = 14″

That gives me 14 inches, BUT if any of my knots are going to be at the end of the cord (I like to finish them off with knots and beads at the ends like the bracelet below), then I also need to add a little extra so I have room to make those knots on the end. You don’t think of it until you get there, but it’s impossible to make a knot at the very end of a cord without leaving room to pull the end through :)

I go ahead and add a couple of extra inches (at least 2 so I have one extra inch at each end to work with for tying those last knots).

14″ + 2″ = 16″

So, I need at least a 16 inch piece of cord to make a 7 inch bracelet with 12 knots. (I actually started with 24 inches to make this bracelet and had plenty of room to spare).

*Click here for this Knotted Cord Bracelet Tutorial*

Interesting random fact: My arm measures about 20 inches from wrist to armpit, so the general rule for this example would work perfectly as well, leaving 4 inches leftover cord.

**ADDITIONAL TIPS: **

If you’re going to be knotting between very tiny beads, and especially for a very long necklace, this method will be quite tedious. In this case, here’s what I would do:

String up a section of beads in the pattern you want to use, at least one inch. We want to get an idea of how many of these beads you will use per inch. Figure out how many knots you will have per inch, then (A) multiply that number by the length you want your finished necklace to be, and (B) again multiply that number by your knot factor.

Then, you’ll (C) add this to the length you want your finished necklace (D) PLUS an extra 4-6 inches to allow room to finish off your necklace.

**EXAMPLE:**

(A) 5 knots per inch x 16 inch necklace = 80 knots in the beaded part of the necklace

(B) 80 knots x .25 inch per knot = 20 inches of cord just for the knots

(C) 16 inches desired finished necklace length + 20 inches for knots = 36 inches of cord

(D) 36 inches + 6 extra inches for finishing = 42 inches cord to start with.

If you are using beads that are all different sizes, try to plan out a pattern as much as you can before you start. If you can plan out a pattern of 2 inches and add up the total of how much cord each bead takes up in the pattern, you can still figure out how much cord you will need for that 2 inches. Multiply that number by the length of your desired necklace and then divide by 2 for the first step (-because you are using 2 inches instead of one like we did in the example above -) to find out how many knots for the whole necklace, and follow the rest of the formula the same.

This will also come in handy for crocheted jewelry and macramé pieces. Calculate how much cord each stitch or full knot takes up and use that as your knot factor.

**So that’s how I figure out how much cord to use for my knotted cord jewelry projects. I hope you found this helpful and as always, drop a note in the comment box below if you have any questions or tips of your own to share!**

You might also want to check out some of my other top cord knotting tips:

Janet says

Good thing I read your article because I was going to wing it as they say when making a slide knot

bracelet.

I’d rather follow your advice and I thank you so much for your great, fantastic, awesome

article!!!!

Jessica Barst says

Hi Janet! So glad to hear this was useful :) Thanks for your kind words – I appreciate you stopping by to say hello!

Jess