Today I’d like to show you how to make a four-strand round braid. This braid can be worked in one colour, or you can use up to four colours and change the order of the strands to obtain different effects. This technique is useful for making a variety of leather items – necklace and bracelets, belts, bag handles – if you braid round a core of rope, you can even make a stylish dog leash with this braid. If leather isn’t your thing, you can also work the braid in ribbon or felt.
I’ve used three different colours of felt so you can see what I’m doing more easily.
- Four strips of leather, width and length depending on your project
- Safety pin, table leg, or other anchor point to tension your braid with as you work.
Use a short length of string to tie your four strips securely together at one end, and then pin or tie the string to a firm anchor point such as a piece of furniture, or the knee of your trousers. Fan the strips out.
Start by crossing the centre two strips – left (lilac) over right (purple).
Bring the left-most strip (purple) round behind the other strips from left to right, turning it so it stays right-side out. Bring it round under the furthest right strip (blue) and over the second-from-right strip (lilac). Pinch ithe crossover to hold it in place.
Bring the right-most strip (pale blue) round behind he other strips from right to left, turning it so it stays right side out. Bring it under the furthest left strip, and over the second-leftmost strip. Pinch to hold in place.
Again, bring the leftmost strip round the back, under the furthest right strip and over the second-rightmost strip. Continue alternating between right and left, bringing the outermost strip round the back, under the first strip, and over the second. Simple as that!
You can finish your braid in a number of ways. You could tie it in a decorative knot. You could punch or pierce through all four strips and stitch with waxed thread or sinew (this is the most secure finish). You could wrap the ends with leather thong, thread, or even wire. Or you could punch a rivet, brad or snap through the strips.
Braiding three strips of one colour and one of a second colour will give you a pattern of diamonds which alternate from one side of the braid to the other. Braiding with two strips of one colour alternated with strips of a second colour will give a pattern of continuous rows of diamonds, as seen on the leather braid in the main picture. Starting with the strips in pairs of one colour (e.g. black black brown brown) will make a spiral pattern round the braid. Three colours will give you rows of alternating diamonds down two sides. Four different colours will give a harlequin pattern. Enjoy experimenting with different colours and textures!