I'm in the middle of making Medieval/Renaissance style costumes for an upcoming SCA event. A few years ago I had made my husband a shirt with ties to close the wrists and neck. He's kind of hard on his clothes however (being a rapier fighter will do that), and the wrist cuffs needed repair. Part of the repair meant that I needed to make new laces. I do this by making a very basic finger loop braid. I learned the skill through a Compleat Anachronist publication, which you can find reproduced here: http://fingerloop.org/. But I know some folks who learn better by actually seeing, so I had my daughter snap a few pictures while I was setting up the braid.
Here's what I did:
For this braid I am using DMC embroidery floss, in two colors of blue that will go with my husband's shirt. I like working with loops that are about 6' of string doubled over into a 3' loop. The floss I was using was already cut into 3' lengths, so I just tied 2 together to get the lengths I needed. I ended up with 3 dark lengths, and 2 light lengths.
I wrapped the lengths of string around a handy table leg, and lined up the ends.
Then I tied the ends together...
...and flipped the circle around so the big knot was behind the table leg.
Then I put each loop on a finger. The dark loops went on the first three fingers of my left hand. The light loops went of the middle two fingers of my right hand. Now I was ready to start braiding.
I reached my right index finger (and thumb, just because) through the loop that was on the middle finger of my right hand.
With the right index finger, I grabbed the bottom part of the loop on the ring finger of my left hand, from the outside bottom of that loop (as opposed to sticking my finger inside the loop to grab the bottom string).
Then I pulled the loop on the ring finger of the left hand through the loop on the middle finger of the right hand...
...ending up transferring the loop from the ring finger on the left hand to the index finger on the right hand.
Then I pulled my arms far apart, which moved the resulting interlacement down to the end of the braid. This is the move that controls the tension of your braiding.
Ok, that is one half of a repeat done--time to do the same thing on the other hand. To set up, I walked the loop on the middle finger of my left hand down to the ring finger on the left hand.
Then I walked the loop on the index finger of my left hand down to the middle finger of my left hand. I usually combine this step with the next one, which is again to use my index finger to reach through the loop on my middle finger.
Grab the bottom string of the loop on my right ring finger, from the outside.
Then pull that loop through the loop on the middle finger of my left hand.
The loop transfers from the ring finger of the right hand to the index finger of the left hand.
I pulled the arms far apart, to tension the braid. Then I walked the loop on the middle finger of the right hand down to the ring finger, and the loop on the index finger of the right hand down to the middle finger. That is the end of a repeat. Start back at the beginning of the braiding.
The resulting braid is totally flat on one side, and slightly raised on the other. Once the loops get too small to work with, I just tie a knot in the end to keep it from unraveling.
My braids ended up about 2' long, and are very attractive and sturdy. They make great laces for dresses, or for drawstrings in pouches. I've used them for hair ties. My kids used red and green knitting yarn, and made Christmas book marks. Grade school kids used to love these for Friendship Bracelets. (My kids are older, so I don't know if those are still the rage.)
And, of course, they'll make great ties to close the cuffs of my husband's costume.