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Tips for Making Coiled Rope Baskets

Rope baskets can be a great diy project. Here are a few tips to get you started.

ok, we (as in I) have fallen in love with making rope baskets. There is something fulfilling about taking something utilitarian (the rope) and creating a beautiful and useful basket.

However, you know you’ve crossed a line when you “demand” that the kids take the new rope harvest basket out to collect eggs instead of the plastic pail they’ve been using. And you get your feelings hurt when your husband doesn’t understand why it’s such a big deal. 

Not that this happened to me. I’m just saying that if it happens at your house, you’ll know you’ve crossed a line.

Let me introduce you to the object of all this fuss…The Harvest Basket. 

SP - Rope Harvest Basket leather handles set of 2

They say the best ideas come to you in the shower, and well, this one literally did. I could not stop thinking about how to make a basket with one handle that wouldn’t tip over while being carried.

And then it hit me, make two handles and put them together with leather. I had no clue how to do that but I do have a house full of Boy Scouts so surely someone would know to wrap the handle of my rope baskets with leather.

So for the last week, I’ve been pulling out my machine to practice making all kinds of different baskets, but the harvest basket is my favorite. I’ve made so many that I’ve been giving them to my gardening friends and still have a desire to make more.

rope tote

I’ve found multiple uses for rope baskets and burlap and canvas baskets in my home. I use them in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, even the bathroom to hold hand towels.

These are so much cheaper to make than buying a basket or storage container from the store and are great for gathering those little piles of things that tend to gather that no one really knows what to do with but we can’t get rid of.

All you need to make a rope basket is rope, a sewing machine that has a zigzag stitch, and thread.

Tips for sewing cotton rope baskets

I really appreciated this video and it’s well worth the small price or you can sign up for a free 14 day account. That was my first step and that’s what I would recommend you do if you are new to rope basket making. 

Here are some other tips to help you out. 

  1.  Remember this is supposed to be fun. It will take a little time to get your hand placement just right for you to make the basket you want. Some of my beginning baskets have waves in them. It’s okay, it adds character and it’s how people will know it’s handmade.
  2. If you are making an oval, make sure to keep the ends tight. Each time you go around the curve is an opportunity for the rope to loosen a little. My first oval looked like a dog bone by the time I was done with the foundation.
  3. Practice with natural colored thread. Don’t worry, you’ll still see your mistakes. They just won’t be as visible to everyone else.
  4. Go slow and pay attention. After doing a couple of baskets really good, I got too sure of myself and the next few had gaps and were uneven because I was going too fast. Don’t let the simplicity fool you.
  5. Use a jeans or leather needle.  Needles matter and there’s a reason they make a variety of them. I find I get better results when I use a jean or leather needle when making rope baskets then when I use an all purpose needle.

Edited to add:: if you are having trouble finding rope, this is the one I use. The main thing for the rope is that you don’t want the core to be synthetic. The needle will get hot while you sew and melt the plastic.

Tips for making no sew rope baskets

There is a way to make no sew rope baskets but I don’t think it’s really any easier. However, if I want to use 1/2″ or larger rope to make a basket, then a no sew rope basket is what I make.

To make a no sew rope basket you’ll need a glue gun and glue sticks, rope, and something to help form it.

  1. Find a suitable form. The form can be a small round waste basket, a large coffee can, really anything that is sturdy and the size you want the basket.
  2. Have plenty of glue sticks. I promise, you’ll go through more hot glue than you think you will.
  3. Use parchment paper or waxed paper to cover the form to protect is from the hot glue. When the basket is as large as you want it to be, just slip it off the form. If any paper is sticking to it, remove the paper.
  4. Secure the end so it doesn’t fray. The end of the cotton rope will eventually fray, so be sure to either coil it, tie it in a not, or glue it down so it doesn’t fray.
  5. Use the no sew rope basket method to make cute planters. I like to cover a tall spaghetti sauce can with coiled rope to make planters. Find a small garden pot that will fit inside the can and plant the plant in that, then just set the pot in the rope coiled planter.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Siti

Tuesday 28th of April 2020

Hi,

I am currently sewing rope baskets, but now I want to sew a curvy rope bowl like the one on top with the yellow things next to the bowl with eggs in your picture. How did we create that curvy bowl?

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 29th of April 2020

How fun! To create a curve just lift the bowl up with your left hand a little and the bowl with start to curve in as you sew.

Karen M Brennand

Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

Angie I've been a sewer for MANY years and falling in love with rope baskets.... However, I've been having trouble coming up to make the sides straight. They are curving outwards.

My very first one was perfect. But now I can't get any of them to make a straight up side. And I'm holding it as tightly as I can pushing toward the foot. It's like it keeps getting bigger around and makes the basket shape outwards. Any clues? Thanks.

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

Hey Karen, they are addicting, aren't they?! If you want straight sides you need to make sure that your left hand holds the basket flat. You might try stacking some books off the end of the sewing machine to help make a level plane. If I notice that basket is bowing out or in, I adjust. That means that some of my straight side baskets aren't completely straight but when they're done, they are straight enough to be straight. Hopefully that makes sense.

SallyAnne

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

Just wondered what or if you use something to stiffen them up after making them. Mine are tightly done but still soft. Want to give them more substance. Any thoughts? Thank you SallyAnne

Angi Schneider

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

I don't use anything to stiffen them up. Maybe try liquid starch? If you try something and it works out, let me know and I'll include that tip in the post. Thanks!

Maureen

Sunday 12th of April 2020

Love the information on coiled rope baskets.

Angi Schneider

Monday 13th of April 2020

I'm glad! I hope you get a chance to make some. They're super fun!

Diane Perkins

Sunday 29th of December 2019

Is this rope like good old fashioned clothes line rope? Also if we just switch our sewing machine needle to a denim or leather needle then we shouldn’t have a problem sewing rope together of this diameter? I’m still thinking clothesline rope in my head of course. Thank you in advance. I’m hoping I am understanding this correctly before looking everything up. If so this will be super exciting for me! I’m not the best with sewing knowledge but if it’s basic machine knowledge I can get the sewing part down. It’s just the other parts like the questions I’ve asked here. Thank you for your patience. I love these kinds of baskets and I’m super excited to own something like this but to be able to make them is even MORE exciting!!!!

Angi Schneider

Monday 30th of December 2019

Hi Diane, Yes to all your questions. It's just old fashioned clothes line rope. However, some of the ones they sell these days have a synthetic core inside the cotton rope braid. It took me FOREVER to figure out why my needle was gunking up and stitches were being skipped. The needle gets so hot that the synthetic core was melting on it! There's a link in the post to the rope I use that doesn't have a synthetic core. You can probably find it locally, sometimes my Walmart carries it. Just look inside the braid, the core should be more paper like than plastic like.

A leather or denim needle is all you need to change and then just do a zig zag stitch to sew the basket. The video I linked to is super helpful and you can sign up for a free trial so you might consider checking that out too.

These baskets are quite addictive. I give them to new moms with some homemade burp cloths for baby showers and to new brides with some kitchen towels in them for bridal showers. They love them.