I absolutely love friendship bracelets. I made loads of the them with embroidery floss when I was younger. So recently I decided to revisit my youth and make some friendship bracelets - with a few twists!
I tried different materials and a new way of ending them to add the clasp, and I'm going to walk you through those things! You can find instructions for friendship bracelets all over the internet, but I relied on this Purl Soho tutorial, as well as some tips from this website full of friendship bracelet patterns!
First of all, I tried three different materials. Each bracelet I made was five strands, to be able to compare them easier. They all had their pros and cons. First up was the classic embroidery floss.
For these bracelets I used Iris brand embroidery floss (available on Amazon). Suffice it to say, one of the benefits of embroidery floss is the variety of colors (especially if you branch out to the slightly more expensive DMC embroidery floss) and the cheap price point. It's also easy to find, as it is usually stocked at Michaels or Joanns craft stores. It's simple to buy a few skeins of floss and just get started!
Embroidery floss made the skinniest bracelet of all three materials I tried, so if you're looking to make something more dainty, or use lots of colors without it ending up too wide, this would be the way to go.
One downside to embroidery floss though was that it took the longest to get the results I was looking for. Since the thread is smaller, the knots are smaller and it just takes more knots to make the same length bracelet as with the other materials. Also, each strand is made up of smaller strands (usually six smaller strands to make up the floss), it also can unravel a bit if you're a little more aggressive with your knot making (as I tend to be).
However, embroidery floss is classic, and the color options and price make it an excellent option if you're just starting out and want to experiment a bit with different color options or patterns.
The next material I tried was Chinese Knotting Cord (Purl Soho or Tangles'n Knots). The knotting cord was a breeze to work with. It's polyester, unlike embroidery floss, and has a bit of a sheen to it, which also makes for smooth knotting. It was also the thickest material I used (I used the 1 mm size). I purchased mine from Purl Soho, which has a few sets, but it appears they use the Tangles'n Knots brand, which has far more colors that you can purchase individually.
One downside is the knotting cord is more expensive and more difficult to obtain than embroidery floss, as well as there being less colors available. Another downside is you need more knotting cord to make the same length of bracelet as you would embroidery floss.
However, the upside to the knotting cord is that it makes a very classy looking bracelet. Like I said, it has a slight sheen, so that makes it look a little fancier. It also is the stiffest bracelet, and holds its shape very well. I was also able to make a bracelet with the knotting cord in a fraction of the time that I was with embroidery floss, and it doesn't unravel at all like embroidery floss.
Knotting cord might be a good option if you're looking to introduce a younger kid to friendship bracelets, as it doesn't get tangled as easily, and works up very quickly, so they'll see results sooner.
Lion Brand Bonbons are mini skeins of sport weight yarn. (Amazon) They come in packs of 8. These are definitely the cutest of all the materials that I used to make friendship bracelets. The Nature and Beach colorways (pictured above) are both 100% cotton and most like your basic embroidery floss, just a bit thicker. (The label specifies that it is size 2 sport weight yarn.)
The yarn has one of the same downsides as embroidery floss - it definitely unraveled a bit as I was working it. And it has one of the same downsides as the knotting cord - there are less colors available than embroidery floss.
However, the yarn, in my opinion, might have been the best material. Since it's cotton, it looks most like a classic friendship bracelet. However, since it's a little thicker than embroidery floss, it works up faster (though not as fast as the knotting cord) and makes a slightly wider bracelet. It takes a little more yarn than embroidery floss to make the same length of bracelet, but not as much as knotting cord. It's a good in-between the two materials. I enjoyed working with the yarn a lot.
Last but not least, I added clasps to my friendship bracelets, using this How About Orange tutorial.
I was able to get all the hardware I needed from my local Michaels during a sale they were having on jewelry making supplies! However, you can also search for any of these things on Amazon and receive lots of results. I would recommend if you're just starting out, use the crimp clasp! It was way easier to use than the fold-over clasp (and I hurt myself less getting it shut). The fold-over clasp also works best with thinner materials, like the yarn and embroidery floss, and wouldn't have worked with the knotting cord at all.
As suggested in the tutorial, I did use Aleene's Tacky Glue to glue together the ends of the threads of the bracelets. For the knotting cord, I needed the "Fast Grab" type, since the regular Tacky Glue would just slide off the slippery knotting cord.
All in all, this was a fun weekend project! Oh, and in case you're wondering, I made the heart patterned bracelet using these instructions from Honestly WTF. It took a few tries (with the cheaper embroidery floss) but I finally got the hang of it, and it came together really quickly with the knotting cord.