What is Macramé?

Learn about the origins of this knotting technique

Macramé is a craft that has only gotten more popular thanks to its Instagram-friendly aesthetic and how easy it is to use to decorate and add personality to our homes.

Discover more about the origins of this technique and how you can start knotting beautiful pieces yourself.

What is macrame?

Macramé is a type of textile that is produced using knots. There are various types of knots that can be used, and they can be combined in an infinite number of ways to create both functional and aesthetic pieces.

In this video Belen Senra (@belensenra), a textile artist specialized in macramé, explains step-by-step how to create the most common basic macrame knots.


The most important material to choose is what you plan to make the knots with. Some options include cotton rope, yarn, jute, hemp, strips of leather, ribbon, or nylon cord.

When picking which of these to use, it’s important to remember that the thinner the material, the smaller your knots will come out.

Beyond size and feel, you can also use different colors. Some textile artists even create macrame pieces using a dye-safe material, like cotton rope, and then dye the entire finished piece.

A mount
If you’re making wall art, you will need some sort of dowel to hang your macrame from. This can be made from wood, metal, or plastic. You can even use a branch if you’d like to create a more organic and natural look.

For macrame objects like plant hangers, you’ll need a hanging ring to attach your piece to the wall or ceiling.

You will use these to hold your dowel or starting loop in place as you work. Some people use a rolling clothing rack to hang their hooks off easily, but you can also hang your piece from the back of a door.

Use a pair of scissors that can cut through the cord you’ve selected easily and cleanly.

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The name is thought to come either from the Arabic word “migramah”, meaning ornamental fringe, or the Turkish word “makrama”, meaning napkin or towel. During the 13th century, in northern Africa, these decorative fringes were used to help keep flies off of horses and camels.

Arabic fringed textiles made their way to Europe and inspired others to begin experimenting with knot making as a pastime. In the 17th century, Queen Mary II taught her ladies-in-waiting how to use macrame knotting techniques.

In the 18th century, it was also popular with sailors, who would create macrame objects during their free time at sea and then either sell or barter them once they landed. As they travelled to different ports, this helped to spread knot knowledge across the world.

Macramé was especially popular during the Victorian era, where it was used in home textiles like tablecloths, bedspreads, and curtains.

It experienced a resurgence in the early 1970s in The United States and Europe, becoming a popular pastime and home decor trend. Textile artists experimented and applied the technique to various types of products, which included wall hangings, clothing, accessories, home textiles, plant hangers, and other furnishings. Moving into the late 1970s, the pervasiveness of macramé eventually led to it being seen as kitsch and outdated.

With the rise of Instagram, macrame was resurrected as part of the growing DIY and craft movement, offering a simple way for people to decorate on a budget. Because it can be used for everything from plant hangers to wall decor, it has gained increasing visibility and popularity both on and off the platform.

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What kind of projects can I create?

Macramé can be applied to all types of projects, offering an enormous range of creative possibilities.

Macramé can be used to create wall hangings, plant hangers, clothing, accessories, home textiles, and more. It can either be used to create a piece from scratch, or be applied as an embellishment to a piece made using a different technique.

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If you’d like to get started with macramé, here is a selection of courses you might be interested in:

- Introduction to Macramé: Creation of a Decorative Tapestry, a course by Belen Senra
- Macramé: Basic and Complex Knots, a course by Mariella Motilla
- Macramé Jewelry, a course by Fibra Bohemia


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