(Also sometimes called Mystery Braiding)


You can make some lovely pieces of leather using this technique. If you take a look at my Etsy shop, you will probably find that I have in stock; belts, camera straps and bracelets which have been braided. The thing that confounds anybody new to this who has at one time plaited some string or hair, is that there are no free ends dangling at either end.

Here I will hopefully, clearly show you how it is done.

Step 1

First of all, you need to carefully cut the strands in the leather. This needs precise measuring, a good rule and a sharp knife. Best to use a safety rule so you end up with the same number of fingers as when you began.

It may be best to begin with three strands although I have demonstrated here with five strands. The principle is the same - You could later experiment with even more - as long as the number is odd - 3, 5, 7, 9 etc. It can become a little unmanageable over 5 though.




 Step 2

Divide the strands, 3 to the left, 2 to the right. Bring up the bottom of the leather and push it through the gap in the strands and pull it down the back until it is (almost) straight again. It will have a few twists near the bottom now, but don't worry, these will disappear over the next few steps.






Step 3

Now take the far left strand and bring it across to the middle, much as you would plait someone's hair.







 Step 4

Then take the far right strand and bring this across to the middle.

Follow this with the strand which is now on the far left, then the one on the right and finally the one which is now on the far left.






Step 5

Keep hold of the 5 strands you have just plaited and bring up the bottom of the leather and poke it through the gap in the strands and bring back down the back.







Step 6

The next moves are very similar to those above, except this time start with the far right strand and bring it across to the middle.







Step 7

Follow on with left, right, left and right again.








Step 8

Once more, bring the bootom of the leather up the front and through the gap in the strands and pull it down the back.







Step 9

Depending on how long you have made your strands, carry on until you have nearly run out of leather to plait.

TIP: Don't try and cram too many plaits in, as the belt or strap may not lay flat when finished.






Step 10

When you have done, give the braiding some manipulation to persuade it to take on a nice flowing shape.







Step 11

You are just about finished now. I tend to run the belt across the edge of my worktop to help the braid flatten out. It should look much like this one.







Final Thoughts

You may have already noticed that you need to plait 5 strands then bring the bottom up through the gap. There is no coincidence that I was using 5 strands.

If you are using just 3 strands, plait 3 then poke through the gap, then plait 3 again etc. If you are adventuous and have chosen 7 strands...yes you've got it... plait 7 then poke through.

As you become an expert in magic braiding, you'll also notice that you don't have to start from the left - divide your strand with 3 on the right and you can start braiding from the right. Not that it make a lot of difference, unless you are doing a belt like the one below, where there are two sets of braiding. Then I find it a nice balance to do one from the left and one from the right.

Good Luck!