I’m excited to share my design and pattern. The design journey is the most creative and thoughtful process when you’re envisioning something, when you’re trying to fit your idea with the practical reality of materials and the how-to. When my friend was looking for “some texture” and texted me some Etsy pictures of strings, yarn, and other wall hangings, none really spoke to me of her personality, none truly captured her color palette. I started dreaming and searching for a better match. I’ve always loved the textures of these feathers or leaves (sometimes they look like one or the other), whatever they are, I love the look. I found a few different kinds on Pinterest but couldn’t find the complete instructions in a large (4mm+ string) enough format for my preference so I decided to design some for myself and capture my trials and errors until it turned out the way I like!
I went searching for the right colors and size of string. 2mm is way too small and there’s not enough color choice in 6mm to 8mm; mostly there’s just cream or black in large diameter, so if you like those, you’ll have no issue finding those. I was looking to complement this room:
So I kept referring to this inspiration picture and started looking for yarns. I gave up on yarn when I realized it wouldn’t work in anything but 100% cotton because of the need to “brush” out the strands. I tried with yarn, it frays terribly. Needs to be strong, not stretchy, so acrylic won’t work. I found Macramé cord was the thing I need! When I started searching, I found an important difference between the cords/strings on Amazon and the craft stores: Do not buy anything braided! For this project, you need TWISTED strings, mine is 4-ply twisted, each ply is made of many strands. This is important to be able to brush it out and get the “look” I’ve created.
Pattern to make a 12″ leaf/feather:
10 yards of 4-strand twisted macrame rope
Cuts of string (rope):
(22) 8″ lengths (11 pairs)
(10) 7″ lengths (5 pairs)
(8) 6″ lengths (4 pairs)
Total: 40 cuts of macrame string/rope, you’ll have 20 pairs tied on to the center string.
16 oz. Fabric stiffener spray bottle
Sharpened scissors for trimming
Dog undercoat comb
5 white macrame beads, optional
Step 1: Leave a loop
When you begin tying on your first pair of strings, leave a 2″ loop at the top of the center string. The first pair of strings you tie on will be 2″ from the top of the center loop. Note: If you want to add a clip to make a keyring or keychain, make sure you thread that on the center string before you start tying your pairs following the instructions in the next section.
Step 2: Tie on all the pairs, starting with the longest and working toward the shortest.
Match up two strings, one pair of 8″ lengths, and fold each string in half. First loop goes UNDER the center strings. The other lays OVER the center string then thread the “legs” through the loop on either side. Look at the bottom pair here, once they are interwoven, simply slide it up to the previous pair and pull very tight to ensure it stays put:
Make sure you ALTERNATE when tying on your pairs. The first one shown in this picture has the left string UNDER, the right string OVER the center before snugly pulling tight. The second pair has the right string UNDER, the left one is OVER. Alternate every pair as you work down to the bottom.
Step 3: Comb out the twisted threads.
I use a dog undercoat comb, I just happened to be doing it with my fingers strand by strand and realized it would be faster with this tool 😃 Start at the outer edges and work your way toward the center knot spine. It’s a lot like untangling hair, edges first. Be careful not to get your comb stuck on the center spine or it unties you’re knot (lesson learned).
Step 3: Trim it to the shape you like.
Your scissors needs to be sharp! This macrame rope is awesome but requires a sharp cutting edge.
Whether you want them all the same or a bit different, now is when you start trimming and shaping to your liking. As I trimmed, I checked by laying them out and re-combed until I was happy with the shapes.
Step 4: Spray with Stiffener
When I started hanging these, I realized the string will never hold its shape unless I did something to make the shapes stay after combing. I first used a pre-packaged 16 oz. spray fabric stiffener but ran out after 12 leaves. To adapt so I didn’t need to buy more, I had some Mod Podge glue, poured a couple ounces in the empty bottle, added a couple ounces if water to dilute it good enough to spray. It worked perfectly fine!
I lightly sprayed the first side of each leaf, just enough to get it evenly wet. Then waited for it to dry on the parchment paper. I flipped it over and sprayed the second side.
Step 5: Arrange and hang
I’m not sure how to best give advice or instruction on this except to say that I laid it out knowing the lower layers would cover the loops and shoulders of the previous row. I knew what I wanted it to look like and I worked out the size mathematically on paper to make sure it fit the space. This is the “design part” and it is a lot of fun for me to see it come together.
I thought it needed a little finishing flair, so I used 5 macrame beads at the top of each ivory leaf. The ivory leaves are slid on the dowel directly by using their loops. The other leaves had a length of string added and I worked on the arrangement to hide as much if the hanging string as possible. I marked the dowel for placement as I worked through the arrangement during installation.
I know you will be creative, you’ll use your eyes and hands to come up with something great. And I hope I’ve helped give you the basics of how to make the components!