Posted in How-to

How to Read a Friendship Bracelet Pattern

So I’ve been making some friendship bracelets lately, and recently branched out to making my first pattern of my own!

But I think there’s kind of a steep barrier to entry for a lot of people: the diagrams look really complicated. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and never really get going. But you’re missing out, y’all! So let me try to explain how to read the patterns.


I’m going to use my own submitted pattern because that seems like less of a copyright concern, no? I mean, I did create the thing myself.

So, first things first. This is what the bracelet looks like:

Blue and black geometric friendship bracelet pattern

Now, there are a couple of things to remember here. For one, there’s no fixed number of times that the design needs to repeat. You just make it as many times as you think you need to to get an appropriate length for a bracelet.

Also, this is the perfect princess digital version. So… it doesn’t look exactly like that as a bracelet. It’s hard to explain why, exactly, but something about how the knots stack and the embroidery floss stretches plus the tension you hold it with… yeah. It gets complicated.


Now, here’s what the pattern looks like:

Full diagram of my friendship bracelet pattern

Please don’t run away! I can explain!!!

Take a deep breath. Good? Ok.

The very first thing you should notice is that we’ve only got two colors going on. A (black) and B (blue). The reason we bother to say A or B instead of just the color is because you can and should pick whatever color combos you want; this black/blue is just a suggestion.

The second thing you want to look at is the very top row:

First row of the pattern

Never mind the arrows for now–just notice how many strands of thread you have “leading into” the first row. You’ve got A B B A A B B A A B here. Which is 5 A strands and 5 blue strands.

You need to know this because your next step, if you want to try following along, is to cut 5 strands of each color you want to use.

The million dollar question: how long do I cut each strand?

Good question, pal. I’m still trying to figure out how to guesstimate this more precisely, but most people use a rule of thumb of the length from the tip of your middle finger to your shoulder. Per strand, mind you.

(There are also a lot of people who double this length and fold each strand in half to form a loop at the top. I think this sounds very legit, but I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I can’t really talk about it :D)


Ok, so you have your embroidery floss, right? 10 strands, 5 of each color?

You can just knot them all together in a simple overhead knot about three inches down from their ends. It will be thick and you’re about to tie a billion other knots directly below it, so don’t worry about it being super secure. This is just your starting point.

I would recommend you somehow secure this end to something solid before we go on, though. I like using a clipboard, but maybe that’s weird?


Ok, back to the scary diagram:

First two rows of the pattern

If you’re following along, you’re basically sitting at row 0 right now.

Now each row tells us–according to how the last one led into this row–how we tie each knot. Because each knot only includes two strands at a time, and you can skip strands on the ends (more on that later).

So if we look at the very first knot:

The very first knot diagram

A is supposedly on the left and B is on the right, because we read top-down and left-right. (I only say “supposedly” because at the very beginning, you just have a random arrangement of strands coming out of your overhead knot. When you reach the bottom of the pattern and repeat, however, you will actually see the arrangement in “row 0.”)

So what that arrow tells us is that A is wrapping over B first. So you lay A over B like an L first before pulling A back through the loop it just made. It’s important that you hold B straight in your right hand while you pull A tight (like really tight) and all the way up as close to the original overhead knot as you can get. Then do that exact same thing again. Loop A over B, etc.


You should have made your first real knot–congrats! So any diagonal arrow in a diagram means make two knots with the same two strands in the same direction.

Now, my friend: set those two strands off to the left. Seriously. You will NOT be able to keep track of where you are if you don’t habitually set your completed strands aside.

Now, the second knot is eerily similar:

The first two knots diagram

EXCEPT: we should start with a B/blue strand on the left and A/black on the right. And we wrap B around A, holding A tight and straight in our right hand. Don’t forget to actually do the knot twice and then set these two strands aside, too.


Oh no, a new challenger has emerged!

The first three knots diagram

So the third knot in the first row is our first departure from the one type of knot we know, but, spoiler alert: there are only 4 basic types of knots and only 3 of them are in this pattern!

So the only real difference is who’s looping over who at any given time. Again, if we look to row zero, we should have an A on the left and a B on the right. But instead of looping A/left/black over B/right/blue first, we’ll lay B/right/blue over A/left/black. So instead of an L, we get… a backwards L shape. But we still pull B through the loop it just formed. And we hold A straight in our LEFT hand instead of our right.

Remember to do the same knot twice and set those two strands off to the side!


Still with me? God, you’re killin the game. Nice work. Soon you’ll be making friends and friendship bracelets left and right.

Here’s the whole first row again:

The first row diagram

You should have just set two more strands off to the side for the third knot. So I think you can handle the last two without me helping you out! Go on. I have the utmost faith in you.

By the way–if you were to mess up a knot, you can easily undo it by sticking a needle or a pin in the offending knot. It’s actually surprisingly easy. And worth it, trust me.


So if you’ve gotten here, you probably knotted that whole first row, right? BIG CONGRATS

I would recommend at this point that you print off the pattern and trace what row you’re on by following it with a paperclip. I’m sure there are a million other ways to do this, but that’s my method.

Ok, so peeking at the second row:

The first two rows diagram

I want you to notice first that what we did in the first row matters. So even though in the first row, we had black on the left and blue on the right in that very first pair, it’s now flipped around. You should see that your strands have a natural preference to lie in a specific order now–and you should let them.

Over time, you’ll get better at not mixing up who’s who, but in the beginning, just do your best to see where everything wants to go. Like if you collect all the strands together and let them fall, what order do they like? The point being that you shouldn’t have to force any strands over or under another one to have it in the correct place.

You should also notice that we have TWO different symbols going on.

So on the far left there, you should have a blue strand coming down. LEAVE IT ALONE. That’s literally all that means. Take your leftmost blue strand and just set it aside without knotting with or on it at all.

Your first knot will be with the next two strands, which are A/black. I trust you know how to do this and the next knot. Good luck. 🙂


All right, now the third knot in on the second row has some funny business taking place. Just what does that confused arrow even mean, you ask?

The confused arrow diagram
What is the meaning of this??

So it’s a bit unfortunate that in this example, both strands are the same color. But the principle will remain the same. Let’s call the black strand on the left Al and the black strand on the right Fred.

This confused arrow means we WON’T make two little knots in the same direction–rather, we need one of each. And because the arrow first points left and then points right, this means that Fred will cross over Al first (as if it’s a left-pointing normal arrow) and once that ONE knot is tightened, Al is gonna cross over Fred (as if it’s a right-pointing normal arrow). You’re still only tying one knot made up of two smaller knots; it’s just not made of two identical ones like it normally is.

I really hope that makes sense, y’all. You can tell me if it doesn’t and I’ll try to explain again!

The rest of knotting is just… keep going! When you reach the end of all of the rows, go back to row 1! I won’t cover how to finish it off here, but rest assured you can just tie a basic overhead knot again if all else fails.


I honestly think that’s the bulk of how to read patterns. The only one direction not shown here is the confused arrow that first points right and then left, but it’s the same principle as the other confused one.

I really hope this helped! I had to figure some of this stuff out on my own and it was pretty confusing. Please let me know if something is unclear.

By the way: to see this pattern in full for yourself, click here.

You can find my profile on Bracelet Book here.

And, finally, if you’re just interested in any patterns, check out Bracelet Book.

Thanks for reading! See you soon!


Posted in How-to

How to Make a Modular Origami Star

First: try a lot of other origami models that are not this star, because life is hard and so is origami. 🙂

Actually first: you’ll need six sheets of paper. Squares! And it would be ideal if there’s either color on both sides or the back is plain white, because you’ll see a bit of the backside on the finished star.

It’s funny because I literally didn’t follow my own advice. This is where we’re headed:

This is an example of modular origami, so we’ll be making a relatively simple unit–and then making the same thing five more times–AND THEN we’ll put it all together and it’ll actually look like something.

I really like this model because it’s not ridiculously hard to put together. It’s a cool introduction to modular origami if you’ve never tried it. Or a breath of fresh air if you have tried modular origami.

Sound fun? Cool. Buckle up.


Okay, so you’ll need to start with your first square white- or backside up.

Then we’re going to fold it in half, bottom to top (top being the edge furthest from you):

You might not be able to tell in the picture, but the raw unfolded edge should be furthest away from you at this point.

Got it so far? You’re doing great. You made a fold!


Now we’ll take that folded bottom edge and act like we’re going to fold the whole thing in half again, but we’re only kidding, so we’ll just make a light crease in the approximate middle. We’re only doing this for reference, so as long as you know where it is, you’re good.


Now we’re going to take the top-left and bottom right corners of our little rectangle and make them line up with the crease we just made–AND we’re going to make these folds run through the bottom-left (from the left) and top-right (from the right) corners.

This might sound confusing, but that’s why we have pictures, right? I got you.


You should have a parallelogram now. It’s pretty cute.

Take the cute lil guy and fold him left to right so that the left diagonal edge lines up with the right diagonal edge. You’re folding it in half, really, but it won’t be pretty because it isn’t symmetrical.

Okay, so now you’re gonna undo that fold. I know. I’m sorry. We’re just kidding again and only doing it for the crease.


Don’t hate me, but we’re actually going to fully unfold it now. you should have the white side up, like this:

And now we’ll fold along creases that already exist, so that’s fun: fold along those diagonal creases on the left, both top and bottom. You should see triangles of the front side of your paper:


Now take that crispy crease across the middle and let it happen. I mean, fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge:

This, my friends, is a trapezoid. Welcome back to geometry class.


Okay, we’ve come to the hardest part, now. I 100% believe in you, but if you don’t know origami, you might need a moment to catch your breath.

Do you see how, in the trapezoid, we have a couple of parallelograms and a triangle made out of creases? What we’re going to do is flip the paper inside out at the point where the two parallelograms meet.

Still breathing? Good. If you’re lost, think about reversing that fold across the middle, but leaving the leftmost parallelogram segment alone. If you invert that crease, the paper will want to flatten out to the shape I have pictured. I promise.


It might not seem like it, but we’re kind of almost done.

Now we’ll need to invert those triangle pieces through the white part on the bottom. It’s a lot like the last part, but a little less dramatic:

Because I’m an imperfect human being, my module isn’t quite lining up right, but hopefully you get the picture. the white part should approximately line up with the front edges, leaving you with a front-colored parallelogram on the left + a white triangle on the right.


Okay, so that’s… one module. Of the six you need. 🙂

It’ll go by faster than you think. I’ll be here waiting once you’re done.

I’m serious. Literally take another square, white/backside up, and repeat all that. 5 times.


If you’re still with me, I am so proud of you. Hats off to you, honestly.

So when we put this together, try to keep the white triangle off to the right, to make it easier.

We’re going to use the little triangle arms to lock around other units. Give em a little hug. These are two, pre-hug:

And post-hug:


Okay, so you’ll want to put three units together, then set that half aside and put the other three together. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT

Once you have two 3-piece halves, it should make sense where they fit together. Just keep folding those little arms in, giving hugs.


CONGRATULATIONS. You made it.

At least, I hope you did. If you cheated and are reading past the point you’re at, cut that out, pal.

Thank you for reading and trying this out! I’ll see you soon!


Posted in Technique adventures

Wait, Friendship Bracelets are a Thing?

Spoiler alert: yes.

By that I mean: there’s a robust community of people who make amazingly intricate patterns and share photos and challenge each other…. It is a bonafide social crafty hobby for adults here in 2022. I had no idea.

Now, necessary disclaimer: I’m just getting into this world, so I might misspeak or leave out important details I should know. But I wanted to let y’all in on the secret.

First things first: I’ve been using this website to find patterns and dip my toe into the social stuff. It’s called Bracelet Book and the kicker is that it’s not even the only community like it. I can’t speak for the other ones, but this one has an incredible number of patterns posted, complete with variations and tutorials and photos/videos and a forum, etc etc.

Maybe you can tell I’m excited because I’m less articulate. 🙂

If you have any interest in time-consuming but satisfying crafts like cross stitch/embroidery, quilting, diamond painting, coloring, or anything along those lines, you should seriously check this out.

It is easier than it looks, trust me. When you boil it down, you’re really only doing one (1) knot, but in four different orientations. You get so much variation just from one knot. We’re talking tens of thousands of designs, and that’s not counting the variations.

I would like to explain the finer details of how to get started, but for now, this is just for encouragement and inspiration.


Let me show you what I’ve made so far:

The one on the far right (#117860) is the first one I ever did. It’s a little bit “messed up” in that it’s thinner than it should be, but otherwise, you can see I was able to pretty much jump right in with something cool. It’s thinner because I only used 2 strands of floss for each string, and people typically use all 6 (as I did in the other two pictures).

As far as materials, you only really need to get your hands on a bunch of embroidery floss and some way to anchor the bracelet as you work. I like to use a clipboard, but you can also tie one end around something or tape it down to a flat surface.

I would also recommend figuring out a method of keeping track of what row you’re on in your pattern. I use a pen cap that I just slide up and down the side of the page to point to my last finished row.

You should have no problem finding patterns, though. And learning to interpret them doesn’t take long at all.


Honestly, some of my favorite hobbies are those that are easy to begin, but difficult to “master.” Making friendship bracelets seems like it’ll fit right in with those hobbies.

If you try this out or have any tips, feel free to let me know! I’d love to know how to better predict how much floss I need for a given pattern, for one. My profile on Bracelet Book is here if you’d like to be friendship bracelet… friends. 🙂

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!


Posted in Resources

Actually Free, Legit Resources for Collage Art

I hadn’t planned to write this today, but I was just printing a bunch of stickers and ephemera to use for mail and/or collage art. I was frustrated both by how many of the resources were NOT actually free or came with obligations to sign up for mailing lists and the like.

But I also found plenty that were great quality, with no catch!

Picture of three freshly caught fish
Photo by Alexander Zvir from Pexels

Note that I’m only looking into what works for personal use, so I can’t guarantee if they’re clear for commercial licensing, etc. My intention is to only use them for hobbies!

And I’m sure I’ll make more posts like this, as I discover more stuff. I’ve found most things through Pinterest. If you want to see my “Collage Art” board, you can find it here. Just know that I’ve not necessarily vetted all the resources and some of the pins are just inspirational (i.e., not resources).

(I also have a “Design inspo” board as well as “Printable stickers” and “Other printables,” if those are of any interest.)

For a wider selection: collections

*Disclaimer: none of these people sponsor me or anything. I’m just trying to help y’all out.

Craftstarters

So a lot of sites have free SVGs, but one I came across recently and really like is craftstarters. They have sooo much stuff and most of it is simple but realistic silhouette-style. I love that style, and it’s perfect for making little stickers (as I was) because the design is readable at any scale.

I know that their licensing agreement is free for personal use only, so be good! No selling things with anything of theirs.

HG Designs

Overlay by HG Designs
A free overlay you can find here

I found HG Designs through Pinterest and they have tons of cool-looking stuff. It tends to be overlays, textures, layers, and patterns, so this might be better for those into graphic design or collaging digitally. What makes them especially unique is you don’t even need a commercial license to use their freebies.

I don’t yet know my way around Photoshop or Illustrator (I don’t have them!) but I am very much interesting in getting them someday and learning digital art on alternative software in the meantime, so I’m really looking forward to having some cool free materials.

Smaller collections/specific printables

Most of these still have multiple images or versions, but I’m organizing them this way just to make this list less chaotic. These are typically blogs who do more than provide printables, at least. I’m extra proud of these finds because they’re harder to come by!

Rose Clearfield

Today I found some awesome vintage sheet music printables on this blog. What I love is that Rose provides several different size and shape options for the sheet music snippets, so you’re guaranteed to find something that fits what you’re looking for.

Oh, whoa. So I hadn’t noticed just how many collections of free printables Rose Clearfield actually has up! Here’s her free printables page.

Personally, I’m most interested in the vintage-style stuff. There’s a lot of sheet music and hymns, but also dictionary pages and textbooks. Look at this algebra textbook stuff! I am really excited, you guys.

Pillar Box Blue vintage world maps

This blog has a page of 13(ish?) sets of vintage maps. I printed a really neat world one and was honestly a little surprised that it printed as well as it did.

I think there are probably a lot of vintage map ephemera resources out there, but this is one I know for sure is solid because I’ve tried it.

Rad Planner free blue stickers

So there are a lot of free planner stickers out there, but what I like about this post is that there’s at least one sheet that seems more widely applicable, if you know what I mean. It’s not all planner-focused.

I picked the “Blue Stickers” one to print and it looks great. Note that there’s a specific personal use-only warning on these.

Sarah Titus adult coloring book pages/stickers

This blog post has, well, an entire coloring book’s worth of black-and-white printables. They might not all be helpful for collage art purposes, but they certainly have potential.

If you scroll all the way down, you’ll find the page with 12 little flower mandalas–that’s the one I printed and am planning to make stickers with. They’re a great size, too. Large enough to be intricate, but small enough to be a sticker.


Sorry I haven’t featured more samples of the freebies here–it’s because my blog might be considered commercial use and I don’t want to risk it.

But I’ve linked all over the place and I promise that at the time of writing, the links work! I hope that you can find this useful.

Let me know if I’m overlooking some good resources you know of! I’m aware of the bigger sites like Pexels or Unsplash, but I’m interested in finding more sites with vector images, papers, or ephemera.

See you soon!


Posted in Technique adventures

Adventures in Technique: Card-Making

Overview image of the card sketch I used and an example card
The card sketch I followed, designed by Julee Tilman (direct link to her blog below)

Good morning! I hope all is well with everyone out there.

So I’ve been working on a card that I was able to finish last night. It’s for a lady I’ve never met, whom I know through Swap-bot. (Swap-bot, by the way, is an amazing site you can use to coordinate and find snail mail “swaps” either with strangers and/or private groups. I’ll write a post going into more detail soon!)

Part of the conditions of the swap I’m participating in is that we follow the card sketch referenced above–basically a suggested layout for your card. If, by the end of this post, you’re motivated to try it out for yourself: here is the blog post and here’s the sketch in detail:

Card sketch detail

Now, if this seems restrictive, don’t worry! I don’t know all “the rules” as this is my first card sketch-following adventure, but from the provided examples on the blog, you can tell that it’s meant to be inspirational rather than strictly limiting.

I’m really happy with how mine turned out, though I certainly made A LOT of mistakes. Let me walk you through my process with this project. Apologies for not many pictures; I’m still getting used to this whole craft blog thing and I just didn’t think to document it! Lol.

The first steps

The first step for me was to raid the stash of all the papers I have available to me. I knew that the person I’m making this for is into fall colors and texture, so I went for tan/brown/red/orange in my colors and made sure that the biggest contrast piece was textured.

I cut everything to the specifications in the sketch (well, mostly). I found it interesting that the sketch doesn’t assume you’re making a whole card? I mean, the face is listed as 4 x 5.25″, but if you want the background solid color to fold and form a greeting card, you need to actually cut an 8 x 5.25″ piece and fold it in half. Maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but my newbie brain wondered at it! 😂

Anyway, so far so good. This is what my card looked like at this point:

The layout of my card project
My card laid out

Though not really a “mistake” you can see that I kind of exaggerated how big the smallest strip should be. I just liked it better that way, plus my paper scrap happened to be that wide to begin with, and I’m lazy. Let’s just be honest. 😂

Phase 2: the creative block and moving past it

At this point, I set the card aside for a couple of days. On the one hand, I felt like I was nearly done (nope!) and on the other, I was overwhelmed by the “finishing touches” elements I could include.

Sure, I was following the layout of the sketch, but what and where should I stamp? What should the message be? Should I add some background accents? Etc etc.

I’m really interested in how we as creatives encounter this kind of paralysis and what we do to move past it. But more on that in future blog posts. 🙂


In this case, I felt motivated to return to it because my swap deadline is approaching (you need to indicate that you’ve sent your items within an agreed-upon timeframe on Swap-bot) and my stepmom was feeling crafty last night.

It was easier to get started by simply being around her and talking it out as well as asking her for help and suggestions (She’s also crafty and provides A LOT of my supply stash.)

So yeah, I eventually hit a “f@#k it” point and started trying things because I couldn’t stand there forever.

Scrabble tiles spelling out "KEEP TRYING"
Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

You guys, I made so many mistakes. I thought all was lost. Like, several times.

It turns out, I don’t really like stamping. Especially not stamping directly on what will be my finished product. I could have thought to stamp on my smaller pieces of paper before gluing them on, but that would have made FAR too much sense.

But! Here’s what I also figured out! When (not if) you mess up with a stamp, one solid option is just to keep stamping with it. Make it look like you actually meant to create a texture rather than a well-defined image.

Want to see what I mean? Let’s look at how my card turned out.

My finished card
My finished card

You see the brown texture? Yeah. All that was just covering up a terrible stamp job.

The cinnamon color coming out from behind “You make me smile” is covering up my attempt to stamp a different message with that color of paint.

And the stamped message–“You make me smile”–was a scrap of paper I found already stamped so I didn’t have to deal with it.

I learned a lot from this project, but especially that a big part of being creative is just rolling with the punches, letting your mistakes alter your plans.

I also found a texture stamp I really love (note the reddish flecks) and tried out a couple of different ways to create interesting edges: rubbing the paper edge over a stamp ink pad and dipping my finger in acrylic paint before running it over the edges (beware of papercuts!).

Overall, I’m just really happy that the finished product turned out looking like I know what I’m doing. Trust me, I don’t. 🙂

I hope that some part of this inspired you. Feel free to reach out to me with any comments or questions!


If you want to know more about what to expect from this blog (since it’s a baby!), here’s my introduction post.

All credit for the card sketch goes to Julee Tilman and her Poetic Artistry blog post.

Finally, here are some of my favorite examples from other artists who tried out this layout (taken from her above linked post):


Posted in Meta

Introduction: What is Making Stuff Today About?

Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels

Hello world! Welcome to my blog. 🙂

I’m Allison and I’m excited to get started posting here. My hope is that Making Stuff Today is not only fun for me to write and research for, but also fun (and valuable!) for anyone stopping by. I have tons of ideas planned, but in general you can expect to find topics in these areas:

  • the creative process
  • how to [insert crafty or artsy technique]
  • how to make specific projects
  • resources to help you get started on a craft
  • inspiration for future projects

I make no claims of expert knowledge, but I do have some valuable tips and tricks up my sleeve.

What I Love Most

I’ve always been interested in art to some extent. I’ve gone through very passionate phases with several hobbies and I expect to continue to cycle through topics as we go here. So–expect some variety! But these are some more specific topics I’m especially interested in:

  • finding and collecting inspiration
  • (modern) cross stitch and embroidery
    • blackwork embroidery, especially
    • designing my own patterns
    • SALs (Stitch Alongs)
  • (modern) patchwork and quilting
  • mail art
    • making my own postcards, envelopes, etc.
    • ideas for swaps on Swap-bot
    • stickers, ephemera, papers, etc
  • modern lettering/faux calligraphy
  • geometric drawings
    • zentangle
    • practicing sashiko-style embroidery with drawings
    • mandalas
  • collage art
  • digital illustration
  • pencil drawings (usually people as subjects)
  • design-centric video games

So yeah, it’s kind of a long list, huh? And I’m sure I’m missing something!

In general, you’ll usually find me most comfortable with modern styles, or a modern spin on a traditional medium. I may quilt, but not like a grandma (though I mean no offense to any grandmas or older ladies)!

Let me show you some recent examples of what I’ve been working on.

If any of those look interesting to you, feel free to ask about my process! I would love to share tips with anyone curious. It’s highly likely I’ll blog about it in the future at some point, though, so stay tuned!

I hope you’ll join me as I struggle (and hopefully succeed) to figure out what I’m doing. Let’s make stuff together!