Written By Amy Barker of Hitch and Arrow – Follow me on Instagram here. I also sell Macrame supplies, have a look here.

So, how do you know how much cord to cut for your new Macrame piece? Let’s take a look.

It’s a really common question and one that doesn’t have an easy answer as the types of knots and patterns in Macrame are pretty infinate in possibility.  While wasting cord is not ideal, running out of cord is an even worse situation, potentially wasting hours of your beautiful work! Getting a good estimate to start with is key.

As far as I can tell there are at least four styles of working with macrame:

  • Familiar patterns – There will be certain macrame patterns that you get used to doing frequently in different combinations. So its a good idea to keep notes of what types of patterns use what length of cord. For example, if you want to include a repeating diamond knot pattern often used in layered macrame, this uses 4-6 times the length required (then fold and double the total length taking into account you will be attaching it onto your dowel with a larks head knot). There are variations on this including knotting within the diamond, leaving it open and weaving the cords. Once you are familiar with this pattern you can mix it up and include it in your work in a variety of ways.
  • Unfamiliar patterns – Now if you are making a piece that includes a pattern you are unfamiliar with its advised to do a small ‘sampler’. Basically a mini version of what you are making. This need not be a waste of rope as you can always keep or sell this as a small wallhanging. Once you have figured out how much cord a pattern will take then you can multiply this by the size wallhanging you are wanting to create.
  • Working from a pattern/ video – So this goes without saying, if you are working with a pattern then it takes the guess work out of how much cord to cut as someone else has already worked that out. This is great for beginners or for tackling unfamiliar patterns.
  • Freestyle – So this is a very enjoyable style as you don’t have to bother too much with measuring cord. Start of with long cords and just see where the knots take you. This is great when doing random dense big pieces. If you start to run out of cord you can either add cord with fringing or decide to finish off the piece there. This is great if you are flexible about the end result, as if you end up with a smaller piece than you envisaged, then simply cut more next time.
 An example of freestyle macrame work

Common patterns and calculations:

There are a few things to consider: 

How long do you want your finished piece to be?




  • Count a long fringe when estimating the length of the piece as you’ll need a bit extra for trimming at the end.

What design aspects do you want to include in the piece?

  • Which knots/ macrame patterns you will be using.
  • Square knots use up the working cords quickly.
  • Double Half Hitch knots use up filler cord quickly.

How will the knots sit together?

  • Open weave – knots that are one inch apart or more, areas where there are no knots or braids/plaits.
  • Closed weave – Knots that sit right up against each other with no space.
  • Complex weave – Knots that have lots of loops, for example the Josephine knot.

Here are some examples:

Bear in mind once you have measured the length you need to double it as you are folding it in half to attach to the dowel or ring.

For a plant hanger with lots of open weave (>50% of the design) and either square knots or spiral square knots (half square knots) use around 2.5 x the total length of the piece.

An example of >50% open weave.

For a design with 25-50% open weave (some plant hangers and more open wallhangings) use 3-5 times the total length of the piece.

An example of 25-50% open weave.


For a design with Closed weave with knots close together use 4-6 + times the length of the piece.

An example of closed weave.

Tips + Tricks

  • Always overestimate if you are unfamiliar with the design. You can always save your scraps for other projects.
  • Square knots: If you find your working cords may be getting too short then use a switch knot in your design to swap the working cords with the filler cords.
  • Wrap knots: Use scraps for these. Use approximately 36 inches/91cm for your wrap knot.
  • Fringe: Use scraps for fringe too. If using single twist the fringe will brush out easier if the string has been ‘worked’ a bit.
  • If you do run out of cord, depending on the design you may be able to add some cord by tying it on and hiding it behind the design. Sometimes that is not possible though and you may need to unpick your design.

Deciding How Much Rope to Buy

Use the guide above to estimate how much rope you will need. Allow for any mistakes when cutting and always round up to another roll if need be so you don’t run out of rope. Rope supplies are available in 1kg and 2kg sizes in my shop here.

I hope this blog post was helpful to you! If you found it useful please give it a like and a share with anyone who you believe would enjoy it! I’d love to hear your feedback too. Thanks so much.

Big love Amy xx










various vintage Macrame books