Macrame the vintage way: How to make 4 basic craft projects from the ’70s

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Handmade macrame braiding, background thread on a wooden Board top view
Photo by amixstudio/Deposit Photos
If you want to learn to macrame with the classic technique to create some vintage-style projects — a plant hanger, a belt, basket-style coasters & an owl wall hanging — we have the details for you right here!

These how-tos come to you straight from macrame’s ’70s heyday, so get your groove on and give ’em a whirl!

Taking a whirl at vintage macrame: Basic knots

By Pat Trexler – The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) October 26, 1971

Macrame is a great family hobby — pleasurable, satisfying and relaxing for all ages. Chances are that the men in the family will already know how to make all of the basic knots, but the women can easily learn.

Many projects are started by fastening all of the cords onto a holding cord, a ring or some other similar object. This is done with a larkshead knot.

Fold a cord in half and hold the loop of the fold under and behind the cord or ring. Bring the ends of the cord up over the cord or ring and pass them through the loop. Pull down to secure the cords.

For ease in working, I recommend that you use a macrame board, available at most craft shops. If you want to make your own, try to get a piece of insulating board about 12-inches by 16-inches and cover it with a piece of cloth.

For small projects, you could even use a very firm pillow, or tape several layers of corrugated cardboard together. You’ll be pinning your cords to the board or pillow as you work, so you will also need a supply of sturdy pins, such as “T-pins.”

Photo by karina.ltva via Twenty20
Photo by karina.ltva via Twenty20

The most commonly used knot in macrame is the square knot. In some directions, this will be abbreviated as SK. When you fasten two folded cords with a larkshead knot, you will have four cords.

Mentally number these cords through 4. Cords 1 and 4 are the “working” cords (abbreviated as WC) and cords 2 and 3 are the “holding” cords (HC). Several inches below the working area, wrap the holding cords around a pin and secure the pin to the board.

Pass cord 4 under the holding cords and over cord 1; then pass cord 1 over the holding cords and under cord 4. This completes a half knot. Tighten by pulling on the two working cords. The second half of the square knot is the same as the first, worked in reverse.

To work a sennit, continue working square knots, one under the other. Or, to work a horizontal row of square knots, repeat the procedures given in the last paragraph on each group of four cords across the row. A very pretty pattern can be worked using alternating square knots, abbreviated as ASK.

To do this, first work a horizontal row of square knots for row 1. Then for the second row, put the first two cords on one side. Your first knot will be worked with cords 3 and 6 used as working cords and cords 4 and 5 as holding cords. The second knot will use cords 7 through 10 in the same manner.

Continue making square knots across the row until two cords remain. These last two cords on this row will not be used. Repeat rows 1 and 2 over and over for desired length.

With just these knots, you can create many exciting items, but other knots are just as easily learned when you take them one step at a time.

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Make a belt with macrame – which was the big, new craft of the ’70s

From the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) Nov 6, 1971

Macrame is an old art with 2 basic knots — the Square Knot and the Clove Hitch — used in variation and combination.

1971 Macrame belt how-to and knots

MAKE THE belt illustrated above to get the feel of Macrame and to get acquainted with the craft. All you need 60 yds. Seine Cord, 12 glass beads, a 9 x 12 inch work board, some T-pins and some rubber hands.

DIRECTIONS: Cut 12 strands 4 yards long. Pin strands to Work Board 18 inches from ends.

1 — Make a Square Knot with strand 6 & 7.

2 — Pin strand 6 (Knot Bearer) diagonally from right to left over strands 5-1. Clove Hitch strands 5-1 on Knot Bearer.

3 — Pin strand 7 (Knot Bearer) diagonally left to right over strands 8-12. Clove Hitch strands 7-12 on Knot Bearer.

4 — Work a 2nd row of Clove Hitches to correspond.

5 — Make a 12 Square Knot using strands 1-4 and 9-12 on Knot Bearing strands 5-8.

6 — Pin strand 1 (Knot Bearer) diagonally left to right over strands 2-6. Clove Hitch strands 2-6 on Knot Bearer.

7 — Pin strand 12 (Knot Bearer) diagonally right to left over strands 11-7. Clove Hitch strands 11-7 on Knot Bearer in that order.

8 — Pin strand 11 (Knot Bearer) diagonally right to left over next 5 strands. (‘love Hitch all 5 strands on Knot Bearer.

9 — Pin strand 2 diagonally left to right over next 11 strands. Clove Hitch all strands on Knot Bearer.

10 — Repeat step 2.

11 — Repeat step 3.

12 — Pin strand 5 (Knot Bearer) diagonally right to left over next 5 strands. Clove Hitch all 5 strands on Knot Bearer.

13 — Repeat steps 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, twelve times, ending with step 5; the Clove Hitch rows, and step 1.

14 — String a head on each strand; push bead to random height, alternating colors. Make a Knot each side of bead and at end of each strand.

Square knot: Place strand 2 over and under strand 1 and out through loop, tighten. Place strand 2 over and under strand 1. Place end of strand 1 over, through loop, then under Strand 2. Tighten.

Clove hitch: Pin Knot Bearer strand taut diagonally strands to he knotted. Wind strand 2 over Knot Bearer; repeat. The 2nd wrap locks the knot. (111. shows left & right diagonal Clow Hitch Knots.)


How to make a vintage-style macrame plant hanger (1975)

The Zanesville Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) September 16, 1975

Macrame plant hangers are becoming more popular in home interior “landscape” designs, particularly the do-it-yourself types.

The hanger is made of jute cording, using several strands to make the woven ropes. Then a favorite potted plant is placed in the hanger and the hanger attached to the ceiling.

Handmade macrame for flowers in the interior of the concept
Photo by Vsamarkina/Deposit Photos

You can make your own macrame hanger to display a favorite potted plant by following the directions given below.

Materials needed

100 yards of jute cording
Six 1-inch (or size desired) round, wooden beads of your color choice
One 1-1/2-inch “0” ring

How to make a macrame plant hanger (1975)

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Directions

1. Measure the desired length of the hanging macrame.

2. Cut 6 cords in the following lengths: Three cords with each 3 times the desired length of hanging macrame, and 3 cords 2 times the desired length. For example, if the desired length of the hanging macrame is 4 feet long, cut 3 cords 12 feet long and 3 cords 8 feet long.

3. Fold all cords in half and slip the “0” ring over of the cords up to the fold. This gives a total of 12 cords hanging from the ring. Tie all cords together directly below ring with a 36-inch gathering cord.

4. Divide the 12 cords into 3 groups of 4 cords each with each group having 2 longer ends and 2 shorter ends.

5. Using the 2 longer cords of a group, tie 5 square knots with the 2 shorter cords inside.

6. Skip down 4 inches and tie another square knot, still on the same set of cords.

7. Thread bead on 2 shorter cords and slide it up until it rests against the (one) square knot.

8. Tie 2 more square knots directly under bead.

9. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8 to increase length of the hanging macrame as desired.

10. Repeat steps 5 through 9 for the other 2 groups of cords, making sure design is even.

11. Gather all the loose ends together and tie an overhand knot.

12. Trim, unwind, and fray the loose ends below the overhand knot to form a tassel.

13. Add your favorite potted plant and attach hanger to ceiling. Beds do not have to be round. They may be oblong or any shape you desire. Also, beads may be slipped on the 2 shorter cords and positioned in the 4-inch skip between knots, if desired.

By using this basic information, you can use your imagination to design the macrame the way you want it.


How to make a macrame owl (1977)

By Ed and Stevie Baldwin in the Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) June 25, 1977

Warning: Macrame is like eating peanuts. You may find yourself making many of these owl hangings — Stevie has made more than 20 of them, and is still knotting.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly one of these owls is finished. The owl makes a handsome 3 by 5-foot wall (or window) hanging, and is also a macrame sampler. Requiring almost all the basic knots used in macrame, the owl can be easily finished by a beginner.

Vintage owl macrame project from 1977 (2)

To make your own, you will need the following materials:

Materials needed

90 yards of 2-ply, No. 72 jute (approximately 1/4-inch in diameter)
2 small wooden beads
2 wooden curtain rings
1 scale of a pinecone
1 stick 1-foot long for the top hanger
1 stick 2 feet long for the bottom perch
white glue
and scissors

Directions

To make the top hanger, cut two cords, each 6 feet long. Tie an overhand knot on one side of the short stick and make a chain of alternating single half-hitches to the other end. Tie the other end over the stick and you have a hanger.

For the owl itself, cut eight 14-foot cords and eight 18-foot cords. Double the cords and mount them on the stick between the hanger ends, using the lark’s head knot. Mount the eight 14-foot cords in the middle with your 18-foot cords on each side.

You will have 32 cords. Make two rows of alternating square knots across the top. Make a sennit of ten square knots on each side of the owl, and a sennit of nine square knots in the middle of the owl, using four cords for each sennit.

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Place a wooden curtain ring over the 10 cords on the left side next to the sennit. Double half-hitch these cords over the curtain ring, add a bead in the middle, and double half-hitch the same cords back over the bottom of the ring. Repeat on the right side.

Make a row of alternating square knots across the owl, under the eyes. Then make a sennit of 25 square knots with the left four cords. Repeat on the right of the owl. With the next four cords on the left, make a half-knot sennit of 45 half knots. Repeat with corresponding cords on the right.

To complete the body of the owl, make rows of alternating square knots to the same length as the sennits. Join the body to the side sennits with square knots on both sides.

To finish, divide the cords into two equal groups, place the long stick over the cords and double half-hitch the longest four cords in each group over the stick to form “claws.”

Trim the cords to about 1 foot long and wrap each group with a simple wrap. Use the longest pieces cut from the bottom for wrapping cords. Unravel the cords at the bottom, and glue on a pinecone scale for the beak just below the middle square knot sennit. And you’re done!

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Vintage owl macrame project from 1977 (1)


Vintage craft project: Use macrame to make coasters

by Alice Morrell, Coshocton Tribune (Coshocton, Ohio) April 15, 1974

I wonder if you have ever looked at an ugly glass stain on your furniture and wished that paper napkin had been a bit stronger. I have, and decided I would put one of my crafts to work on a useful as well as decorative project to solve the problem.

I used inexpensive butcher’s cord to make macrame glass coasters. You will use one ball of butcher’s cord (found at craft and hardware stores), a small four-inch square board of softwood, scissors, thumbtacks, ruler (five-eighth-inch curtain rings or washers optional), one of your 8- or l2-ounce glasses, flour and water whipped to the consistency of then milk, and acrylic spray.

To make a glass coaster that a glass can sit in, you cut butcher’s cord into 12 lengths, 24 inches long. For the center ring, you may cut a piece of cord long enough to tie around your thumb and knot or use a small curtain ring or washer.

Vintage macrame coaster design from the 70s

Fold cords in half and mount on ring by placing the loop over the ring and pulling the two running ends through it (Fig 1). Attach all 12 strands to the ring in this manner.

Next, place this ring on the center of the small wooden board and hold in place with several thumbtacks or push pins. This project is done in square knots so divide strands into groups of four, and tie a macrame square knot in each group (Fig. 2).

Measure out about one-fourth inch, redivide the groups by taking two strands from one group and two strands from the adjoining group, and again make a macrame square knot. Do this all the way around.

Again measure and mark on the board one-half inch, divide the strands as above and make square knots all the way around. This should fit the bottom of your glass. If it is too small to cover the bottom, adjust by lengthening the strands between knots.

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Now measure one-half inch on the board and again divide strands and make square knots. For the next row, measure out three-fourth inch, divide as before, and tie more alternating square knots. The next two rows measure one inch, divide and repeat the square-knot procedure.

At this point, fit the glass on the center ring, pull the coaster up the sides and divide the strands. Tie a square knot, pulling the strands as tight as possible, and cut one-half inch from the knot, leaving a small end. Repeat for all strands.

Remove your glass, undo the thumbtacks and dunk the macrame coaster in its flour and water paste until it is thoroughly soaked.

Shape over the glass bottom, set the glass bottom-side up on foil in a 150-degree oven to dry for several hours

After the drying period, carefully remove any loose flour particles with your fingers The macrame coaster should be stiff enough to hold its shape. You may, however, like to acrylic spray the outside as a protection against sticky hands and prevent it from becoming limp with moisture.

Macrame a set, dip and dry at one time to save oven heat Another idea: dip dye each a different color to help guests find their own glass when ordering refills. Sets of these make good spring bazaar or scout projects. Experiment and have fun.

Handmade macrame braiding, background thread on a wooden Board top view
Photo by amixstudio/Deposit Photos
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