Rubber Band Bracelets: Several Patterns That Don't Require a Loom!
I was excited and intrigued when my sons told me about bracelets that "everyone" in their elementary school was making.
They are bracelets created by linking together small, colorful rubber bands, sold under the brand name Rainbow Loom.
While I was prepared to spring for the loom kit, which sells for $16-$18, I soon learned that I might not have to buy the whole kit. Our nine-year-old cousin said she knew how to make the bracelets without the loom and would be happy to give us a lesson!
A Risk-free Experiment
I hoped that my kids would have fun making bracelets without the added cost of the loom. And going "loom-free" would mean just a little less clutter in the house!
I figured if the process of making the bracelets by hand proved to be too difficult, I would be happy to buy the Rainbow Loom. Therefore, I didn't feel like it was risky to purchase the rubber bands without the loom.
All you need are rubber bands!
Learning to Make a Chain Bracelet
As she promised, our cousin came over to show us how to link the rubber bands together to create a bracelet.
My sons, nine and six years old, were initially frustrated. I was a little confused myself at first -- but I also understood that these kinds of projects often seem difficult until something clicks in your head and you realize that it's really very simple.
And that was exactly the case! Once we figured out the process, we were able to easily put together simple chains, attached at the ends with small plastic c-clasps that were included with the pack of rubber bands.
Detailed Instructions for How to Make a Rubber Band Chain Bracelet
NOTE: There's a link to a great video below, so if the written instructions are confusing, check out the video!
- Slide a segment of a rubber band into a c-clip. Ideally, the rubber band should be doubled over (make a figure-8 and fold it over on itself to create a small circle) and slipped inside the c-clip. Let's call this rubber band #1.
- Now another rubber band (let's call it #2) is slipped halfway through rubber band #1. Try not to twist #2. You then grab the two sides of #2 and hold them together. #2 is looped through #1 but will easily slip out if you let go.
- Now, carefully gripping #2, you slide the next rubber band, #3, through the hole created by stretching #2. As you hold #3 and let go of #2, you'll see that #2 is firmly attached to the bracelet and you now need to hold #3 to prevent it from slipping out from #2.
- Hold #3, stretching it out to create an opening, which you then slide #4 halfway through. Grab the two sides of #4, letting go of #3, and slide #5 halfway through #4. Continue this pattern.
This process creates a simple chain. When the bracelet is long enough to fit comfortably around your wrist -- not too tightly -- then take the last rubber band in the line and slip one side of it through the other (one loop through the other) and pull it tightly to firmly attach it to the previous rubber band. Now slip the last rubber band's loop into the same c-clip that is holding the first rubber band.
You can choose to not use the c-clips at all and can simply tie the ends of the bracelets together. It's a good idea to knot the ends first by sliding one loop of the band through the other (as above) and then tying the ends together.
See the following excellent video that clearly shows how to make the same kind of rubber band bracelet that our cousin taught us how to make. Rubber bands are simply looped together to form a chain. Starting it is the hardest part; stringing the bands together is a piece of cake!
How to Make a Basic Rubber Band Bracelet - Video
Helping Younger Kids
When we were first shown how to make the simple chain bracelet by hand, both of my sons were overwhelmed at the prospect of doing it themselves. And this is completely understandable, since it does feel like you need three or four hands!
And so we used four hands.
My job was to hold the most recently added rubber band in place. I held it securely, making sure it didn't fall out of the bracelet and stretching it open so that my son could choose the next color band and slide it through the one I was holding. Without the stress of trying to hold a rubber band in place, my sons started to enthusiastically string the rubber bands together, and it took less than 10 minutes to complete each bracelet.
After working with me to create a couple of bracelets, my older son got the hang of it and started doing them completely on his own. My younger son still prefers to have help, which is fine -- creating the bracelets as a team is a lot of fun!
With our first lesson, we cranked out several bracelets. Then it occurred to me that perhaps something more than the basic chain could be made without using the loom.
Looking on YouTube, I found two good videos showing other patterns. One is called the fishtail, and the other the dragon scale. (Scroll down to see these videos.)
Once we got the hang of these patterns, my sons and I were able to make the bracelets without much difficulty.
Fishtail Pattern - Thicker and more sturdy than a chain
How to Make a Fishtail Bracelet - Video
This video clearly demonstrates the technique to make a fishtail bracelet, using two markers as a loom.
It's best to use three colors, at least for your first bracelet, because it makes the pattern very easy to follow.
What to Do with Rubber Band Bracelets
- Make them to wear
- Trade them with friends
- Give as inexpensive, homemade gifts
- Sell to raise money for charity
Dragon Scale Pattern - I love how this uses a fork as a loom!
How to Make a Dragon Scale Bracelet - Video
As with the other patterns, once you get the hang of it, it's extremely simple!
Make sure to give a tug on the bracelet as you add to it in order to keep the stitches tight and in the right place.
More Advanced Designs
The following are all intriguing designs that can be made without using a rubber band loom.
While I like all of these designs and enjoyed watching the videos, these techniques are beyond my sons' patience level, so we have not done them ourselves.
Most of these techniques use two forks, secured back-to-back, as the loom!
The artist does a great job of explaining each step.
This really helps me to understand the process much better than the videos that have only music on the sound track.
Double Cross Spiral Twist
I love this spiral design!
The video has only music in the background. Since there's no narrative description of the steps, you have to watch carefully to see what's going on.
The Starburst is a compelling and complex design.
I was surprised to see this could be done without a loom!
© 2013 Valerie Bloom
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make these bracelets!
mady on March 16, 2020:
hi valerie- they where thrilled thank you so much for all the help on how to make them :))))
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on March 16, 2020:
Hi Mady – I'm so excited to hear that! I bet your friends were thrilled you made bracelets for them!
mady on March 15, 2020:
so i made the starburst one and let me tell yall it turn out so great all my friends at school and my crush even wanted one, i made it super special, and i gave them for free, thank yall so much for the help on all these, keep on making them, pleaseee, we all love them, have a wonderful day, byeeeee :)))))))))
Micah on January 02, 2020:
I just made some!!!
Maya on May 25, 2019:
I love rubber band bracelets thank you!!!!!
Kamora on May 21, 2019:
That is graet
Areseli on January 05, 2019:
I like making bracelets and am making one as a gift
Anya Yang on April 04, 2018:
Amazing! The fork idea is clever!
Anoushka jha on November 27, 2017:
Wow - amazing - mind blowing idea - tried it with my daughter and now that is the trick she uses
Jessica on November 08, 2016:
Thanks! This was a very helpful video.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on December 24, 2014:
@archana: I am thrilled your daughter is into making bracelets and has found some great patterns here! Thanks!
archana on December 24, 2014:
Oh My God! my daughter is totally involved in making bracelets. she is 8yrs n she learns one pattern a day from ur video n gifts it to her friends. I am very much grateful to u to post a elobarate instructions, Thanks
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on September 12, 2014:
Sometimes less equipment does make the task easier!
traceh on September 12, 2014:
Thanks for the tips, I can't figure out how to use the loom anyway.
Ramona from Arkansas on September 07, 2014:
I have two Grand daughter's that enjoy making these bracelet's. Your page is very informative. Thanks!
brianluche on August 06, 2014:
wow those are really nice bracelets
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on August 03, 2014:
@MJ Martin: Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by!
MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on August 03, 2014:
The fork techniques are awesomely easy and fun to do. Lots of great information and great videos. Congrats on LOTD!
Roy from Northern Ireland on August 02, 2014:
I have a sister 14 years my Junior, she is fascinated by these. Great Lens!
Smitty from Arizona on August 01, 2014:
I love your Lens, especially the VIDEO of How to Make a Basic Rubber Band Bracelet. Thanks...
maijame on July 30, 2014:
Looks easy enough for my kinders to do. Congrats on being LOTD!
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 30, 2014:
@Merrci: Thanks! I'm thrilled with how happy my sons have been putting these together!
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 30, 2014:
@Dressage Husband: Thanks! I've seen LOTS of boys making and wearing these bracelets. The bracelets don't appear to carry as big a "sissy" factor as you might expect!
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 30, 2014:
I first saw these on a lens about using the loom, this technique will appeal to many of the boys who may think it is a bit sissy, but find doing it without more "manly"! It definitely will be a godsend to single parents where cash is tight. Great LOTD!
Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on July 30, 2014:
Congratulations on Lens of the Day Vegival! They look like so much fun to make. With your instructions it should be easy to try one. I bet your kids were pleased with the results too!
essayshub on July 30, 2014:
they are really beautiful and worth trying...
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 23, 2014:
@hannybear: Thank you so much for the compliment. I haven't yet found instructions for these patterns and don't know how to create it myself. But I will continue the quest for more patterns!
hannybear on July 23, 2014:
Add some more advanced patterns please. I'd like to learn how to make a starburst and a triple fishtail and your tutorials are always really well written!! :)
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 19, 2014:
@ppppppppppppppo: I just read about the loom band dress! It was absolutely amazing and inspiring!
ppppppppppppppo on July 19, 2014:
Cool ideas i love loom bands i can make the loom band
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 10, 2014:
@monkeyball2014: It is really amazing how many kinds of designs you can create using the loom. I didn't know about some of the designs you mentioned, and they sound really fantastic!
monkeyball2014 on July 10, 2014:
great ideas, although i would still recommend buying a decent loom board, beware though there are some out there that break too easily i have had 2 already until i purchased the genuine rainbow loom board and since then i am able to make animals, action heroes, flowers; you name it... all i did to get started was watch step by step instructions how to make various things on youtube and you would be surprised what you can actually do... im 27 and loving it and now im having people ordering them from me and paying me for them :)
anonymous on July 10, 2014:
hi! I know how to make other designs by hand, they look a bit like the starburst bracelet but are not so complicated. And, what's best, is that you don't even need the loom!
aamirk321 on July 07, 2014:
wow:) nice lens
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on July 07, 2014:
@anonymous: Oh, that's great! It's amazing how switching the technique a bit can re-inspire the creative process! I hope they enjoy it!
anonymous on July 07, 2014:
My daughters are crazy about loom bands, they will definitely be inspired by your lens, thanks for sharing :)
SMW1962 LM on June 29, 2014:
Great idea! I can't wait to teach my granddaughter this.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on June 28, 2014:
@TerriCarr: HA! :-)
krider on June 28, 2014:
I like that idea for sure sounds great to me really it is not that compalicated at all
TerriCarr on June 28, 2014:
Great activities for kids, of any age :-) I used to love making stuff as a kid. Not so much now. I probably should find a grown up craft that I find satisfying.
caraann-fraser on June 28, 2014:
cool it is good to learn more bracelets
chrins on June 26, 2014:
nuxa76 on June 25, 2014:
Scindhia from Chennai on June 24, 2014:
This is beautiful. Nice lens!
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on June 23, 2014:
@monika64: You're absolutely right! We made different styles of "friendship bracelets" and other ornaments back in the day. A new twist on an old tradition!
Monique Flora on June 23, 2014:
I remember when I was in school we were making similar bracelets, some things never change I guess :)
someperson on June 23, 2014:
It's a rage here in Australia to.
thanks your lens are so cool
Surreymagic on June 13, 2014:
Excellent lens- I always wondered how it would be possible to make those bracelets without using the loom because i used to make friendship bracelets by hand.
loomerlover on June 12, 2014:
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on June 11, 2014:
@nicenet: These are fun and easy patterns. But sometimes it's feels confusing when you're just getting started. If you stick with it, it'll all click in not too long!
nicey on June 11, 2014:
I can't wait to try it. . I watched the video, looks easy. I hope it's easy when I try it.
Great ideas and thanks
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 30, 2014:
@StrongMay: Wow! That is so cool!!!!
StrongMay on May 30, 2014:
They are all the rage where I live, too. My cousin is in elementary school, and she also has a rainbow loom. She had a number of other looms as well, but says the rainbow loom is the best. She couldn't wait to teach/show me how to use it, and made me a one-eyed minion from the despicable me movie.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 26, 2014:
@BestRatedStuff: Thanks! It is a lot of fun, and I'm sure you and your kids will enjoy it!
BestRatedStuff on May 26, 2014:
This looks like fun to do. Enjoyed going through your lens, hope to get to do some of these with my kids soon.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 24, 2014:
@RoadMonkey: It really is! I like being able to focus on these kinds of projects.
RoadMonkey on May 24, 2014:
Good fun and very therapeutic and relaxing.
Robert Connor from Michigan on May 24, 2014:
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 21, 2014:
@Animallover4: WOW!!! That is amazing!!!! I am truly inspired by your descriptions. Thanks for sharing!
Animallover4 on May 21, 2014:
Im 18yrs old and im pretty obsessed with making them. My favorite style is the fishtail one, which I sell :)
The single chain one was so frustrating at first(because i didnt know how to do it and i wanted to make the fishtail one so badly) but now all i make is the fishtail, inverted fishtail, and half-fishtail&half inverted fishtail witch is very easy to make. I also make more complex styles such as double fishtail and a 2-way separate color(such as, one half of the bracelet pink and the other half green, but it looks like fishtail witch is a huge seller!). I do all of this without loom(my fingers are pros lol) I've brought 3,200 elastic rubber bands today for $4, and will be heading to the dollar store to buy more(its so addicting lol). They also have glow-in-the-dark ones witch is a huge hit when im selling.
nathjang123 on May 20, 2014:
niamhluvs1d13 on May 19, 2014:
i love this it's so cool!!!! i made one pink and purple and i love it :)
Kimberlee Nelson from Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 18, 2014:
My 6 year old daughter is obsessed with making these right now lol
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 18, 2014:
@Evelynwn: Cool! I'm definitely drawn to the fishtail pattern, too!
Evelynwn on May 17, 2014:
That is really cool. Definitely going to try it. Thanks a lot. I like the fishtail one the best myself. ^_^
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 14, 2014:
@Keith J Winter: Ah, the great case of the missing forks! At least they are going to a good cause!
sirteacup on May 14, 2014:
This looks like so much fun! Hmmm I don't have kids so I'm going in solo on this haha, gotta get my 'fishtail pattern' on!
Keith Winter from Spain on May 14, 2014:
Thanks for a great lens. My young daughter spends a lot of her free time making these bracelets. It's suddenly become all the rage here in Spain. I'm not sure how many forks have disappeared from the cutlery draw :-) I will pass this lens on to her.
Nurse32 on May 11, 2014:
I love making loom bracelets so I'm glad this is something popular :3
Xxowldusk on May 11, 2014:
I have do the dragon scale for the life of me
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 06, 2014:
@ShadowSphereOT: Great idea!
Gabriel from U.S. on May 06, 2014:
Great lens. Another Alternative is to putt two screws (or as many as you need) in a spare board and do the same as you would a regular loom.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on May 06, 2014:
queenofduvetcover on May 06, 2014:
My daughter is going to love this lens! She is really into making bracelets.
leparadissecret on May 02, 2014:
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on April 30, 2014:
meloyelo on April 30, 2014:
Love the alternatives to the loom, so creative!
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on April 28, 2014:
@Sage_Canton: I'd be interested in knowing how she likes making the bracelets without the loom. We've never even used the loom, and I'm wondering what the experience is like going from loom to loomless!
Sage_Canton on April 27, 2014:
My daughter is rainbow loom obsessed, lol. I'll show her this lens :)
Mark from Italy on April 27, 2014:
loving tutorial :) tank you for sharing!
WikiDZ on April 22, 2014:
Great lens, my kids will enjoy this!
katiesnow on April 21, 2014:
great fun for kids and teens alike!
webindex lm on April 21, 2014:
I really enjoyed reading about Rubber Band Bracelets. Thanks for sharing :)
TheHonestWebGuru on April 18, 2014:
Great lens, I always love to save money:)
Stanley Green from Czech Republic on April 17, 2014:
Lovely lens! I remeber that we used to make similar bracelets when I was a kid. Thumbs up!
snowy12 on April 11, 2014:
Very creative. Nice lens. :)
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on March 28, 2014:
@Scottf13: Awesome! You're all set for fun with stuff that's just been taking up space in your house! Have fun!
Scottf13 on March 28, 2014:
I never even thought of creating bracelets like this! I have had gold and silver wire on the brain but I have so many rubber bands just lying around!
Zienna1 on March 17, 2014:
I think my children should be the one reading these. My son was the same. Came home asking me to buy him a looming kit because his friend got one and their making bracelets. So I bought a few and the girls ended up making it. I bookmark it instead so I can go back to it later. Thanks for sharing.
sha-ron on March 06, 2014:
Great ideas of something to keep the kids entertained at minimal cost at the same time
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on February 28, 2014:
@flycatcherrr: Yes! The fishtail design really caught my eye, and I like the effect, too!
flycatcherrr on February 28, 2014:
I can just about manage a simple chain. Next up, learn that fishtail pattern. I like the chevron effect.
sociopath-free on February 22, 2014:
I know several teen girls who love these. Very popular!
Halloween Cosplay on February 18, 2014:
So cool! I just saw a kid playing with a rainbow loom the other day. It looks like a lot of fun - reminds me of lanyards a bit.
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on February 16, 2014:
@Ethan Cresdee: I'm delighted to hear it!
Ethan from London on February 16, 2014:
This turned out to be really fun :D
Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on February 10, 2014:
My grand daughter is having a lot of fun with these. I'll have to share this with her.
Ilona E from Ohio on February 06, 2014:
Such a cute idea. I think the kits would make a great birthday gift for a grandchild.
Jess Martell on January 23, 2014:
Very cool! I've just been learning about these within the last few weeks and I think they're pretty awesome. The younger girls and guys that I babysit love them :)
Valerie Bloom (author) from Pennsylvania, USA on January 17, 2014:
@Margaret Schindel: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!