How to hold macrame in place whilst making it
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When you first decide to create a macrame project, figuring out where you’re going to put it whilst you make it is one of the first hurdles people face. Everyone knows that crafts like knitting or crochet just require needles and a lap, but macrame is one of those crafts where you realise you’ve maybe never actually seen someone make it. The first time I attempted to make macrame, I cable tied it to the back of a chair. The macrame itself turned out terribly as I used wool instead of cotton but my method of holding the macrame in place was perfect. If you also want to make sure you have the right cord for your first attempt at macrame, here's a link to my blog post titled: Beginners Guide To Macrame Cord.
Having something to hold your macrame in place whilst you make it is pretty important. Because macrame requires you to tie a lot of knots, you need to get the tension correct and if nothing is holding the project in place then pulling the knots tight will just pull the whole macrame towards you. This will mean everything ends up a bit loose and floppy and you might be disappointed with the result. So, how can you avoid disappointment and make sure your macrame stays in place? There are so many options which I’ll cover below - this list isn’t even exhaustive!
Luckily, there are multiple ways you can hold your macrame in place.
Attach macrame to a rail using…
One of the main options for holding macrame in place is to use a rail of some kind, but then you also need something to attach your macrame to the rail. Here are some ways you can attach macrame to a rail.
The most common way of attaching macrame to a rail is to use an S hook. They're designed with a top hook and bottom hook facing in opposite directions so you can attach the top to a rail and the bottom will hold your macrame - this makes them look like a letter S, hence the name. If you're making a plant hanger, you can just use one S hook to hold the macrame in place - you’ll just place the top of the macrame plant hanger on the hook. If you're making a macrame wall hanging, place an S hook at each end of your wooden dowel to hold it in place whilst you make it.
The best thing about S hooks is that they’re super versatile. I have these small S hooks that I use for most of my projects because they attach tight to the rail which stops my macrame swinging around whilst I make it. However, when I’m making a wall hanging using a large natural stick, these tend to be chunkier than other wooden dowels, so I have these extra large S hooks that I use to hold this macrame in place.
S hooks are also great for displaying macrame as well as holding the macrame in place whilst you make it. I have my plant hangers hanging from curtain rails in the window to give them plenty of sun and I use S hooks to hang them there.
When teaching macrame workshops, I found that my students actually preferred to use cable ties to hold their macrame in place when they were making macrame wall hangings. We’d attach the cords to the wooden dowel first and then hold the dowel flush against our rail and wrap cable ties around each end of the dowel so it was firmly held against the rail. This meant that my students were able to tug as hard as they wanted on the macrame cords and their wall hanging stayed in place without moving.
Using cable ties doesn’t work quite as well when you’re making a plant hanger, but if you’re making a macrame wall hanging, I highly recommend using cable ties to hold the macrame in place.
I get my cable ties from my partner Josh's tool bag, so I'm not sure which brand they are, but they're just regular cable ties like these.
The simplest way to hold your macrame in place whilst you make it, is to use more macrame cord. If you’re making a plant hanger, just thread a piece of cord through the hoop at the top and then tie it to your rail. If you’re making a macrame wall hanging, tie each end of the dowel to your rail.
If you don’t have a rail available, you can really tie your macrame to just about anything to hold it in place. I don’t know if links to specific videos in someone’s Instagram highlights actually work, but here you can see Essence of Macrame using a piece of cord to attach his macrame to a tree. You could hold your macrame in place by using cord to tie it to anything - a wardrobe rail, a fence post, a table leg, a chair…the possibilities are endless!
Use these rails to hold macrame…
So you’ve got a bag of S hooks and now you’re thinking “great, but what do I actually hook these onto to hold the macrame in place?!”. Again, there are so many options. Some are options you could use specifically for macrame, others are options you might already have around your house and could double up as macrame holding devices.
The most popular way to hold macrame in place whilst it's being made is a clothes rail. They’re large enough to hold fairly big macrame projects in place, they’re strong because they’re made to hold a lot of clothing and they’re generally quite portable which is super handy. I have this clothes rail from IKEA as it's on wheels and the height is adjustable. This means that as I get further down a macrame project, I can increase the height of the rail to keep it in a comfortable position to I tie my knots. The fact it's on wheels makes it super easy for me to drag it around the room - after all it IS quite large and can sometimes be in the way, but having it on wheels makes it super easy to move.
If you don't have an IKEA nearby, this rail is also on wheels, height adjustable and seems very well reviewed.
This is like, a pretty big commitment. But it also looks SO GOOD when people have custom built stations to hold macrame in place. Hitch & Arrow has this amazing wooden macrame station and I mean…just look at it. It’s so incredibly dreamy. And...you can buy this exact one! Obviously the fact that it holds her cord AND holds her macrame in place whilst she makes it is awesome, but I think my favourite part are the bits that hold the roll of cord in place whilst she unravels it. So handy.
So yeah, if you have the space, building a custom macrame station is definitely the most awesome way to hold your macrame in place.
This is the ultimate “use things around the house” option. Instead of buying a clothes rack specifically for holding macrame in place, use the one you already have.
Take some clothes out of the wardrobe (temporarily, obviously, you can put them back when you’re done), and then use the rail you have in there already. The bonus of this is that you can close the wardrobe door to hide your half finished project if you don’t like people seeing your work-in-progress.
The downside of this method is that anyone who walks in the room might not understand what you’re doing and think you’re trying to find Narnia, but it’s cool. Maybe you will find Narnia. Who knows.
I feel like I should point out that the temperature just reached 29 degrees. This blog is getting more and more nonsensical as the room heats up.
You might have to stand on a step ladder to make yourself tall enough for this one, but if the only rail you have available to you is a curtain rail, there's no reason you couldn't use S hooks to attach your macrame project to the curtain rail whilst you make it.
Again, I also find curtain rails super handy for actually displaying macrame - I hang my finished macrame plant hangers from the curtain rails using S hooks so that my plants get lots of sunshine.
Other ways to hold macrame in place
If none of the options mentioned above are suitable for you, here are some further ways that you can hold macrame in place whilst you make it.
Over The Door Hook
These over the door hooks are a super cheap way to hold your macrame in place whilst you make it. You can buy them at most homeware shops - I got mine from B&M - though mine doesn't seem to be available online anymore. This one from Amazon looks very similar.
These hooks are perfect if you’re looking to hold a macrame plant hanger in place whilst you make it. If you’re looking to hold a macrame wall hanging in place, these are less ideal as they tend to only have one or two hooks that would hold the dowel in the centre. For a wall hanging, it’s better to have hooks holding it at each end of the dowel as this is less wobbly.
The only downside I’ve found to using an over the door hook to hold macrame in place is that it tends to rattle against the door as I tie my knots. This doesn’t bother me, because I’m focused on what I’m doing, but my partner Josh finds it very annoying to just listen to the un-rhythmic clattering of metal against the door. So yeah. Just something to consider if you’re going for this option.
Hanging Basket Brackets
In summer, standing outside in the sun and making a plant hanger is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If you've got a bracket up for a hanging basket, you can just pop a wooden hoop onto the hook, attach your cord and get started making a plant hanger. Depending on how high you hang your hanging baskets, you might need a little step to make sure you aren't holding your arms above your head for too long, but this is a great way to get outside and enjoy the sunshine whilst you create your macrame project.
I use these brackets outside and inside for hanging my some of my plant hangers. They're super well priced and strong enough that I sometimes have multiple macrame pieces hanging from them at once for storage.
Terracotta & Twine is not responsible if you get too engrossed in outdoor macrame and get a sunburn.
If you fancy making macrame but would rather remain seated, I find that clipboards are a great way to hold macrame in place whilst you make it. You can just use a regular office stationary clipboard - this is the one I use. If this is your preferred way to hold macrame in place, I wrote a whole blog post here about the best projects to make whilst sitting on the sofa. It’s also worth noting that a lot of Terracotta & Twine DIY kits come with both an S hook and a mini clipboard included so that you can either sit or stand to make your macrame project and don’t need to purchase anything additional to hold it in place. Just put a couple of cushions on your lap so you don't have to hunch over, and then clip your macrame onto the clipboard.
Another option for holding macrame in place on your lap is to use pins. Just place the macrame on top of a cushion and place the pins through some of the cord and the cushion. You could use push pins or safety pins to do this - the best option of the two would depend on the type of macrame project you were making. It’s not a method that I prefer as I find a clipboard much easier, but a lot of people who post macrame tutorials on youtube use pins to hold their macrame in place and it seems to work just fine.
As you can see, there are SO MANY ways that you can hold macrame in place whilst you make it. I’ve tried to make sure I include a method to suit everyone, even if all you have on hand is a roll of cord and you’re desperate to get started! But if you’ve read through this list and none of these are suitable for you to hold your macrame in place, please get in touch and let’s see if we can come up with something together to get you started on your macrame journey.
Ready to macrame? Grab a DIY Kit here.