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Mystery-Braided Leather Cuff

When is a braid not a braid? When you use this technique. Referred to as mystery, magic, or trick braiding, it involves manipulating a single piece of leather with two slits into a braided strip.

Photography: Raymond Hom

Source: Martha Stewart


Mystery braiding isn't hard, but it can take a few tries to get it right. As you work, the leather twists and turns. Frankly, it looks as though you're doing something wrong, but it will smooth out at the end.


  • Straightedge

  • Matte knife

  • Vegetable-tanned leather scraps, 8 oz.,

  • Awl

  • Cord or embroidery floss


  1. Use a straightedge and a matte knife to cut leather to size: 1/2 inch longer than you want the bracelet to be, and 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches wide. Cut 2 slits in the leather, leaving 1 inch uncut at each end. In the following diagrams, the dotted line helps you keep track of the left strip, which is the one you always begin braiding with, and the arrows at the top show you which strip moves in a given step.

  2. Slip the bottom of the piece through the right slit, and pull it through.

  3. Braid left over center.

  4. Braid right over center.

  5. Braid left over center.

  6. Slip the bottom through the left gap, and pull through.

  7. Braid right over center.

  8. Braid left over center.

  9. Braid right over center.

  10. Slip the bottom through the right gap, and pull through. Repeat, braiding (left, right, left) one more time, and slip the bottom through the left gap. Pull through, and straighten the braid. Make holes in the end with an awl, and thread cord or embroidery floss through to join the ends.

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