How to Tie a Sliding Knot Like a Pro

Learn how to tie a sliding knot for bracelets and necklaces like a pro.

I was lying awake in the dark this morning thinking about the first time I really fell in love with beads. Oh, I’d learned how to string macaroni on yarn and fell in love with the beading process pretty early on, but I’m talking about really falling in love with the beads themselves. And, as often happens in the middle light of a groggy dawn, I had the most wonderful memory regarding a sliding knot.

When I was about 8, my brother had a friend, Al, who was just like family. You know, the kind who walks in the front door unannounced, opens the fridge, and asks, “What’s for dinner?” Al was like a brother to all of us, and when he took a trip to Peru he brought back gifts for the entire family. I received a leather cord bracelet with large wooden beads.

Knowing what I know now, the bracelet probably came from a street vendor who had a thousand of them for just céntimos a piece. But at the time I thought this bracelet was magical. The beads were plain: dark brown, wooden, with one simple circle carved into each. They felt very exotic and, in our family of seven kids, there wasn’t a whole lot of exotic to go around the table.

I had a hard time figuring out how to put the thing on, though. It had a sliding knot clasp that I’d never seen, and my exotic deprived family members certainly weren’t any help. It wasn’t until Al came over again to show me how to slide the knots toward each other to loosen it, away from each other to open it, that I could put it on. I loved this bracelet and wore it until it fell apart. It looked great with my purple bell-bottoms and Holly Hobbie sweatshirt.

How to Tie a Sliding Knot

Tying a sliding knot is a little tricky, but is a great technique to add to your bag of tricks; especially if you use leather or satin cording. If you don’t use cording that often, you might want to consider incorporating it into your stash. It adds a different texture to jewelry patterns and is quite inexpensive. Designers, such as Candie Cooper, who used it in her Sunny in the Outback necklace for Stringing Summer 2009,make me want to run out and buy a whole host of cord colors. In that same issue, Margaret Sherman shows off a great looking bracelet that incorporates both leather cord and wire, giving me ample ideas for other jewelry making techniques. Why not subscribe to Stringing and be inspired, too?

Besides the fact that the sliding knot is used by some of our favorite crafters, it’s also a great way to add that same exotic and bohemian flair to your work. This type of knot allows you to showcase the cord or whatever other material you’re working with without adding an extra material and component that can drain your budget and take away from the overall design of the piece. The clean, textured look of the sliding knot makes it great for dainty, simplistic designs.

Use our sliding knot bracelet instructions to create cool friendship bracelets—the sliding knot friendship bracelet is a classic, after all—and incorporate it into your necklace and earring designs if you want to add a decorative knot and a closure in one. Interweave can help you master all of the most complex and basic bracelet making techniques to round out your arsenal. Make sure to subscribe to Stringing and take advantage of our other great jewelry making resources!

While you’re waiting for your first issue of Stringing to arrive, pull out some leather cord and try this knot. It can be done in a couple different ways, but here’s how I do it. After going through the following steps, make sure to practice making a sliding knot on some basic string bead designs!

  1. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 1Measure your desired bracelet or necklace length and double it (or triple it if you want the knots to sit fairly close to one another when the piece is worn). Cut that length of cord. String any wide-holed beads you want to add to the cord.
  2. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 2Loop the cord into a circle. Grasp the cord that’s lying on top 5″ from its end; make a fold so the cord bends back onto itself (this will be your working cord). You’ll have 3 cords side by side.
  3. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 3Loop the working cord around, to the back, and underneath the other cords.
  4. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 4Wrap the working cord around the other cords again. Note that you’re moving away from the bend, not toward it.
  5. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 5Make at least 2 more wraps as before. Be sure you’re wrapping 2 cords, not just 1.
  6. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 6Pass the working cord’s end through the wrapping, exiting from the initial bend.
  7. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 7Pull the working cord’s end to tighten the knot.
  8. Tie a Sliding Knot Step 8Turn the piece over. Repeat Steps 2 to 7 to form a second knot.
  9. Tie a Sliding Knot Final StepTrim the cord ends close to the knots. Slide the knots along the cord to open and close the piece.

Pretty cool, eh? Did you already know this knot? If so, what have you used it on? Share your knottiness on the website. In the meantime, I think I’ll put this bracelet on and see if I can rustle up some cola-flavored Bonnie Bell lip gloss, just for old time’s sake.

Find more resources like this in the Interweave store.

  • Beadwork, June/July 2017 Digital Edition

  • How to Form Basic Knots for Jewelry Video Download

  • Leather Jewelry, Digital Edition

  • Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, December 2017 Digital Edition



Save patterns, share updates, and connect with your community.

3-Month Membership


Join Now


Best Value

Annual Membership


Join Now


  • FREE access to over 8,000 projects and patterns
  • Connect and create with a community of crafters just like you
  • Access digital issues of Beadwork, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Interweave Crochet, and Interweave Knits

View All Benefits

*Membership cannot be purchased with Gift Cards or PayPal.