Make a charming braided belt

  • Written and photographed by Jonetta Rose Coffin
  • Saturday, July 24, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Passionate crafters will often find themselves browsing through most of the unsolicited catalogs that come in the mail, which is how we came upon the Chinese zodiac charms featured in this week’s Craft Corner project.

The zodiac charms are available from Fire Mountain Gems &Beads at

Charms come in a wide selection of sizes and shapes, and are purchased in bulk packages. The catalog warns – and believe what they say – that purchase of a package of charms may not include all 12 of the zodiac signs.

It’s hard to understand why this is the case, but we found that by purchasing at least four packages of charms, we’d be sure to get one of each of the 12 signs of the zodiac.

Prices range from a couple of dollars for bags of 50 or more small charms to $3 or more for 12 large round charms. And remember, even if you purchase the 12 large charms, you may not get a full set without buying two or more batches.

We decided that the best way to present the charms was in fashion belts, although they can be used to make curtain tie-backs, wind chimes, jewelry or other projects limited only by your imagination.

To make our black belt, you’ll need a length of cord – cord that can fit through the loops on the charms – long enough to fit around the waist or hipline of the person for whom the belt is meant.

Make the belt by weaving the cord over and under each charm (some of the charms have a loop on each side) until the desired length is reached, then tie off the cord with a single knot at each end, leaving a length of cord long enough to add a charm, 4 to 6 inches.

Cut three more lengths of cord, between 12 and 14 inches long, loop them through the cord loop at the back of the last charm on each end so you have six strands of cord (seven, counting the one on which the charms are strung) at both ends.

Tie the cords off with a single loop knot at the last charm, then braid the cords down 2 or 3 inches and knot off.

Add a zodiac charm to each of the six cords at both ends of the belt, and a smaller odd charm to the seventh cord at each end.

To make our red, braided belt, cut 12 lengths of cord long enough to fit around the waist of the person for whom the belt is meant, with two or three feet left over.

Separate the cord strands into three groups of four strands.

On one end of the lengths of cord, make a knot leaving at least 12 inches of cord free on one end, then braid the longer lengths of cord – three groups of four strands – until the belt is the desired length, tie off, leaving at least 12 inches of cord free on the second end.

You’ll have 12 lengths of cord at each end of the belt, so add six zodiac charms to six of the cords and knot off the other six at both ends.

You can e-mail Jonetta Coffin at

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