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How To Sew a Scrappy Rope Basket

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

This year, I was determined to use up a lot of my scraps to make Christmas gifts. I had a lot of this clothesline rope that I had purchased a couple years ago and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try making a basket.

Honestly it evolved from a little tiny bowl into this big plant holder, simply because I was designing as I was going. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go and when one idea didn't quite work out, I let my intuition be my guide and just kept going with another idea and this is the result. I loved getting to use up my 2 1/2" stripes that I'd used last year for my Christmas Stocking.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Cotton Rope. This can be found in the clothes line or hardware area of Variety store. I got mine from a place called Choice here in Australia, but I have also seen it at Bunnings. You want to make sure the rope is 100% Cotton and I find that 1/2" (10mm) is the perfect width. Any smaller and it takes for ever, any bigger at it get to be too hard to sew. i Used 1 and a half rolls. So get 2 to be safe.

  • Scraps: I used 2 1/2" (6cm) strips that I had cut for another project. You could also use a Jelly Roll.

  • Strong Polyester or Poly-cotton thread.

  • Faux Leather trim from Kmart Australia. This is optional but for only $3 worked a treat as the handles.

  • Scissors

To Start:

Thread your machine and insert a new needle. I used a microtex 80/12 needle and Rasant Thread.

Next, set your machine to a wide zig zag. My width is 7mm and length is 1.8. You can play with the settings and practice sewing on the rope until you find the right width and length that you are comfortable with.

I didn't adjust my presser foot pressure or tension. I left those as normal.

I did turn on my laser guide because my Brother VQ3000 has one and it makes it easier to keep the zigzag in the middle of the joining rope.

I also engaged my pivot function. You will be pivoting a lot, so you will definitely want to use that.

Let's Sew!

To start sewing, roll the end of your rope into a tight spiral like you see in the photo.

Zig zag back and forth a few times to secure the middle.

Then start zig zagging around the spiral. Your needle should be going through the rope on either side of the spiral with each stitch. This is what holds everything together.

Start slow until you get the hang of sewing a few zig zags and then pivoting. When you are first starting out, try not to go fast. Just zig, zag, pivot... zig, zag, pivot.

Add Scraps

As you can see to the right, every so often I would cut a scrap and wrap it around a piece of rope before I would put it around the spiral. This is completely optional as you won't see this part of the basket. However, if you were making just coasters, a place mat, or a trivet then this would be a really cool idea.

Make the Base

To create the base, I went around a total of 7 times keeping the rope completely flat on the bed of my machine as I sewed.

You could stop here to create a coaster, or keep sewing around with it flat to create a place mat.

Turn to Start Curving Up

This is where it starts to get a little tricky. The way you make the rope into a basket is by pivoting up. The more you turn the rope up on its side the quicker and tighter your basket will be. I turned my base on it's side as much as my machine would let me and continued to zig zag.

My tips is to hold the bottom part with your left hand to help it turn. Your right hand is guiding the rope, and make sure that the rope is free behind you and not able to get tangled.

Add More Scraps

As you are going around, you can start wrapping scraps around the rope. I started with red because I was doing a rainbow. I simply wrapped and twisted the scrap around the rope, zig zagged until I almost reached the end and then overlapped and wrapped another scrap. It's ok if it's messy or frays. That's part of the look.

Just Keep Going!

Just keep going and going around and around until your basket is sitting almost vertical, like you can see in the picture below.

Row After Row

I did 3 rows without scraps, then 10 rows with my rainbow scraps until I ran out, and then 8 more rows until I reached the top

My basket ended up having to be the circumference of the top of my machine so I could fit it going around and around.

I have tried it going underneath the machine and found it hard to keep a nice smooth shape. It gets squashed under the machine and that is when you can end up with lumps and uneven bits.

Below is a better picture of how the bowl wrapped around my machine as I was sewing making it the perfect size. It ended up being 8" (21cm) diameter.

Add Handles

To finish off the top of your basket, just cut off the end at an angle and try to tuck it into the bag and zig zag over it. With mine, I plan to hand sew around the end with DMC thread to cover the end so it makes it a feature.

Next, cut 2 X leather/pleather straps at 10" (25cm)

Finally, I used my quilting clips to hold the leather straps in place. I placed them 3 rows down and 3" (7cm) apart. I also made sure they were directly opposite one another before sewing.

I simply used a straight stitch and lengthened my stitch length to 3.0. I sewed across the bottom (backstitching at the beginning and end) and then measured up 1" (2.5cm) and sewed another straight line.

I was going to do a box with an X but it was too hard to get that under the machine.

Repeat for all the strap ends and then you are all done.


The Perfect Gift

I plan to gift this with some succulent clippings from my garden. You will want to make sure that you line the inside with a bit of plastic first and then put your potted plant in second before gifting this to a friend. You don't want it to leak.

Hope you loved my free little tutorial and that it gives you inspiration to create something similar for yourself or a friend.


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