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How to Make Fabric Rope Baskets

Teal, pink, green, and poke-a-dot cotton rope basket

While browsing the internet late one night, I came across a few posts and pics of some baskets made from cotton rope. They were beautiful, but the one I really fell in love with was the rope wrapped in scraps of fabrics. I know you are thinking, “Well why didn’t you just follow someone else’s tutorial?” and my answer is I tried.

I tried to follow along, but every tutorial I tried to follow was missing information. I was snapping sewing machine needles left and right, clogging up my machine with cotton dust, and having thread jams too many times to count. Could I do this on my regular sewing machine? Did I need a special presser foot? What about needles? Would any old thread work? Here is what I learned about making fabric rope baskets.

Coiled Rope Basket Tutorial


  • 100 feet Scottie Cotton Clothesline in a 7/32 inch diameter
  • A spool of all purpose white thread
  • 2 Bobbins loaded with white thread
  • Bias tape or 1 inch wide strips of fabric (you can also use bits of scrap fabric as long as they are large enough to wrap around the rope.)
Cotton rope, cotton quilters fabric, and 2 spools of white all purpose thread


  • Scissors
  • Rotary Cutter with Mat (you can just use scissors, but a rotary cutter makes is so easy to cut strips!)
  • Sewing Machine ( I use a Singer HD6600c and it handles sewing rope pretty well)
  • 110/18 sized Sewing Needle ( This is a universal sized needle and the size needed to sew heavy materials such as canvas. The size may vary for your machine.
  • Zig Zag Presser Foot
  • Stick Pins
  • Clamp Style Paper Clip
  • Tape measure or Ruler

Sewing Machine Settings

  • Stitch- Zig zag
  • Length- 1 1/2
  • Width- 5-7 (I use 7 on my Singer, however my Kenmore only went to 5 and it worked)
  • Tension- 8 or 9

Coiled Rope Basket Tutorial

Step 1.

Set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch at 1 1/2 length, between 5-7 width ( it needs to be able to span the gap in the rope to attach both pieces together) and a tension of 8 or 9. Attach your 110/18 (or equivalent) to your machine and thread it. I recommend loading two bobbins with white thread before you start sewing to make changing the bobbin in mid basket easier.

Step 2.

With your rotary cutter (or scissors if you do not have a rotary cutter) begin to cut your fabric into 1 inch side strips. I use different sized lengths to add character to the basket.

Step 3.

Your rope will come with a piece of tape on the end. Cut the rope just past the tape and throw away that piece. Take the end of your rope that you just snipped the tape from , and begin to coil it in on itself. When your coil is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, stick pins in the sides to keep it coiled. Think of it like a compass, you will want a pin at the West, North, and East. Now place your coil on your machine with the loose rope to the right. Sew your coil back and forth, change direction, sew back and forth, change direction, until your coil is covered in zig zags and strong. Remove your pins when you feel your coil will not fall apart.

Step 4.

Place your coil with the presser foot of your machine over where the loose rope joins the coil. You should now be able to sew and turn your coil with your left hand, while guiding your loose rope with your right hand. Sew until you have added 1 or 2 more layers to your coil. Leave the coil attached to the machine.

Step 5.

Take one of your fabric strips and cut the end on a diagonal with the right side lower than the left (do this to about the last inch from the end). Take the point of the cut you just made and face it to the left behind the rope. Fold the point over the top of the rope from the left, then start wrapping the rest of the strip over the rope from the right tucking the point in as you begin wrapping. The object is to get the fabric as flush with the rope as you can. Continue to wrap the rope in the fabric until you reach the end of the fabric, then clamp it with the paper clamp.

TIP: To keep the gap in between the two pieces of rope lined up with stitch, align the V in the presser foot over the gap.

Step 6.

Continue sewing your coil, adding fabric as you like until your coil is 7 and 1/2 inches wide. When you have reached this point, you will place your left hand under your coil and hold it up to the side of your sewing machine while it is still attached at the needle and presser foot. Begin sewing and guiding your loose rope with your right hand, while keeping your left hand holding and guiding your basket base. Once you can see the beginning of your basket sides (usually about 2 coils high past the point you turned it on its side), you can continue to add fabric pieces.

Step 7.

Now you will want to periodically measure your bowl. When your bowl gets to 3 and 1/2 inches high, it is time to “tie off” your basket. With the basket still attached to your machine, you need to cut your loose piece of rope about 5-6 inches from your coil. Take the tip of your rope and fold it backwards towards the left and tuck it in between the last place sewn on the coil. Sew this loop by following the path you would have sewn if you did not cut the rope. Back stitch to the beginning of the loop and begin zig zagging where the loop begins. Sew the loop shut as far as you would like. I like leaving my loops open about the size of what my thumb will fit through so that I can attach trinkets and tags to the baskets I give as gifts. Now you can remove the basket from the machine, trim your threads and you are done.

Your sewing machine may sound a bit clunky while you are sewing. Keep in mind, that’s a lot of thickness it’s trying to sew through. Cotton rope sheds a lot of fiber into your machine, so remember to clean your machine when you are done and oil it regularly so it will be in working order for the next project. But most important, use your imagination and just have some fun.

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