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Tips & Techniques

Get tips and techniques to become a better beader at Lima Beads.


Fish Tail Braid How-To

About this Tip:

One of my earliest memories from school, isn't of school at all, but of my girlfriend's braided hair. Her name was Carrie, and she called it a fishtail braid. My mom only French braided my hair :-) So Carrie taught me how to braid like her hair. We would make all sorts of "friendship style" bracelets using the embroidery floss and shoe laces. When I was trying to think of new wrap bracelet style to teach all of our Lima Beaders this came to mind, of course with more of an adult spin on it.

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Making more than a single wrap?

For each additional wrap around your wrist, you’ll need to add 15 inches of cord. Bracelet sizes are subjective, so we’re using a common size of 7.5″ in the chart below. We recommend testing your project often by wrapping it around your wrist to see how it feels.

1″ of competed fishtail braiding is roughly 12-15″ of hemp, string or smaller cord.

Single wrap (7.5″): You’ll need 30 inches of cord

2 wraps (15″): You’ll need 45 inches of cord

3 wraps (22.5″): You’ll need 60 inches of cord, for this you may want to start thinking about alternating your braiding material

4 wraps (30″): You’ll need 75 inches of cord, for this I recommend alternating your braiding material

5 wraps (37.5″): You’ll need 90 inches of cord, for this I recommend alternating your braiding materials

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1:
String on button and double over your core strands, in this case leather cord. Form an overhand knot. Attach to clipboard. Double over your working strands, hemp in this case, behind the core strands and secure to core strands using a simple overhand knot. Dab knot with touch of adhesive.
Step 2:
Begin your braid by taking your left-hand working strand, going around and over the left-hand core strand, then under the right hand core strand. Next take your right-hand working strand, going around and over the right-hand core strand, then over the "braid" of the left-hand working strand, and finally under the left hand core strand. Complete this same series of steps over and over until your desired length is reached. It is important to always have the working strand from the same side, right or left, as the strand to be on top, otherwise you will get kinks in the the braid.
Step 3:
If and when you decide to add in another material to your bracelet, there are a couple things you will need to do. First, about 1/4" from your first completed length of braiding, take a touch of hypo cement, applying it cautiously to each core strand for approximately 1/4". Continue your braid going over the adhesive. End the braid with a simple overhand knot, trimming the tails so that only about an inch is left of them. Take your next material to be braided and begin the same way as earlier, but make sure to have your new material above the tails of the former. You will braid around the tails for about 5 braids, then trimming them off and continuing with your braid. This step can be repeated as many times as you like.
Step 4:
It is very important to check the size of your bracelet as you make it. Either check it against your own wrist or use a measuring tape.
Finishing off your fishtail braid is so easy. When you are approximately 1/4" from completion, take a touch of hypo cement, applying it cautiously to each core strand for approximately 1/4". Continue your braid going over the adhesive for a 1/4 strand. Form single overhand knot, dabbing knot with adhesive once again. Don't trim. Take the tails from your working strands with the tails of your core strands and jointly form an overhand knot, pulling down so that is is snug against the braided bracelet. Dab inside of this knot with adhesive and trim the working strands, leaving the core strands to be knotted for the button closure. Unclip the bracelet from the clipboard. Create another overhand knot and bring the button around to be fit. Before finalizing your knot, make sure to check that your button can fit through the loop.

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. No Photo
    Atomic Toad says:

    These are super cute, what fun!

  2. No Photo
    mcak says:

    Ali you made that look sooo easy! What else can I say other than the obvious
    “you rock” ;)

  3. No Photo
    C Higgins-Sleeth says:

    So CUTE and great fun….I appreciate how quickly this works up. THANKS!!

  4. No Photo
    Linnie S says:

    simple, beautiful and clever – like all your designs and as always, great instructions!

  5. Farmchick -
    Farmchick - says:

    They look awesome!

  6. micheler
    micheler says:

    Beautiful and rustic!!I love it!!!

  7. No Photo
    Kathryn D says:

    How do you do the overhand knot so that it is close to the threads without leaving a space? I do an overhand but cannot seem to get it close enough. Knots have never been my forte. Thanks.

  8. Peggy3
    Peggy3 says:

    Great tutorial. Thanks!

  9. No Photo
    B Brown says:

    Very instructive. Very pretty

  10. No Photo
    S Loveland says:

    I retired this summer and enjoying the different types of jewelry making. So far I like simple.

  11. No Photo
    lindairie treasure maker says:

    lindairietreasure maker


  12. No Photo
    lindairie treasure maker says:

    studying colors and nature in the air, land and what is below the waters of the
    world since i can remember

  13. No Photo
    Margie A says:

    I have always wanted to learn how to make a fish tail braid for hair, now I can do it with the different materials and make beautiful jewelry! I was blessed when I found you, Lima Beads!

  14. No Photo
    R oxzama says:

    Beautiful. I use dif threads w dif colors ever inch or so..and at the end..it looks great. Try it!

  15. D Douglas
    D Douglas says:

    I love this look!!!

  16. cam
    cam says:

    will be making this for gifts. love the site carol/cam

  17. No Photo
    Pastor TB says:

    Thank you Kevin for such great service when I order from you all. I love the personal touch by adding my name to your thanks only one complaint from my last order, where is my red licorice? Te he he lol I just wanted to tell you I love your company. Your web sight is so great it brightens my day. I have a very vicious disease called C.R.P.S. it has me basically bed ridden.I started making jewelry to keep my hands from becoming unusable.It is a great part of my therapy l am in pain every second of my life. I told you all that just to let you all know you are areal blessing in my life Thank you Kevin and crew for a job well done God Bless You Terri

  18. No Photo
    ClovisakaLois says:

    Wonderfully easy to follow tutorial! Love the design results! Will be trying this knot.

  19. No Photo
    angmoore2011 says:

    This is great! My mom didn’t know what to do with my thick curly hair so it was always a mess! I wanted braids like the other girls SO bad! LOL Then I had all boys and became an expert with products,
    the dryer and my Che as an adult!!

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