Use cotton clothesline rope to sew a Cotton Clothesline Rope Basket. All you need is cotton clothesline, thread, and your sewing machine!
Clothesline baskets or bowls have been around for a while. And, for some reason, I stayed away from them. I think I was afraid my sewing machine just wouldn’t be able to handle the bulk of the cotton clothesline rope.
But, guess what? I was totally wrong!
Not only have I made a number of these DIY and easy to sew (once you know a couple of tips) cotton clothesline baskets. But, I’ve also made some that I added embroidery designs to and some where I’ve used colored thread.
You can even have fun with the rope and add designs to the outside of the baskets. Plus, you can make them round, oval, short or tall.
I gotta warn you though – once you make one basket, you’ll want to make more! Then you’ll want to make coasters, placemats, mug rugs, rugs, and the list goes on!
But First, Some Tips
Before we get started on making a clothesline basket, there are a few tips I’d like to share with you. Let’s call them “lessons learned”. Which means you can learn from trial and error (aka mistakes).
Tip #1: Use Cotton Rope
Be sure to select a cotton rope. You can use a cotton blend. But I would definitely stay away from nylon, plastic, or anything that might cause a problem for your sewing machine. I’ve used cotton rope that I’ve bought from Amazon, DollarTree, and even some from Ace Hardware.
Tip #2: Cut the Rope at An Angle
The rope will coil more tightly if you cut the ends of the rope at an angle. So, be sure to cut the beginning of the rope at an angle and the end of the rope.
Tip #3: Add Color
Keep in mind that the bobbin thread is what will show on the outside of your basket and the top thread is what will show on the inside of the basket. Play around with the colors. You can put the same color in the top and in the bobbin or switch it up! And there are some beautiful variegated threads available, too!
Tip #4: Secure the Ends
The ends will ravel when you cut them. To help keep them from raveling, secure the ends with a small piece of scotch tape.
Tip #5: Coil in the Right Direction
Coil the rope so that the loose end is to the right of the center. In other words, you will turn the rope counter-clockwise (to the left), as you sew in a clockwise motion. And as the base of your basket gets bigger, it will do so to the left of your sewing machine needle.
Tip #6: Keep the Base Flat
I’m not even going to tell you how many baskets I started making only to have the base “cup” up. I think it was probably my third or fourth attempt before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. You will have a tendency to want to grab ahold of the rope base with your fingers underneath and your thumb on top to kind of guide the rope. DON’T DO THAT!
When you start out sewing the base of your basket, keep your fingers, thumb, and hand on TOP of the rope base. Keeping your hands on top and the rope flat against the sewing machine plate will help produce a nice flat bottom to your basket.
Tip #7: Go Slow!
Take your time. Take a deep breath. Go slow. Enjoy the process. Your basket will unfold right before your eyes. But, it truly is important, especially when you’re just starting to stitch together the bottom of the basket, to take your time.
Tip #8: Your Left Hand is Key
You will use your right hand to guide the rope under the needle. And you’ll use your left land to raise or tilt the rope, creating the shape to your basket.
I created this video so you can watch and learn as I show you exactly how to sew a clothesline rope basket. Just click here or on the below image to go to my YouTube channel. And, while you’re there, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Thank you!!
How to Sew a Cotton Clothesline Rope Basket
- 50-80 feet of 7/32-1/4″ thick cotton clothesline
- all-purpose thread
- filled or pre-wound bobbin
- scotch tape
To make a clothesline basket, we’re gonna use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. You’ll also want to set the stitch width to 5mm and the length to 2mm.
- cotton clothesline, 10 yards
- all-purpose thread
- scotch tape
- sewing machine
- sewing machine needle, size 90/14
- Cut the beginning of the rope at an angle and begin to coil it counter-clockwise, so that the tail end of the rope hangs off the right side. Coil it 2-3 times and secure by pinning. Simply insert the pin from the outside towards the center of the coil. You may need to pin in 3 or 4 places.
- Set your sewing machine to stitch a zigzag stitch that is 5-5.5mm wide and 2-3mm long. The wider the stitch, the easier it will be to stitch.
- Starting at the center of the coil, take a couple of stitches forward and a couple of stitches backwards to secure the stitches. (Alternately: you can also stitch an "X" across the coil to secure the stitches, then proceed.)
*** Remember, go slow. The first couple of inches are kind of pain staking anyway. Just realize this is the case and take it slow.
- Keep the center of your presser foot centered between the rows of rope so that when you stitch, the needle will catch two rows of rope. Take a couple of stitches, raise the presser foot, and rotate the coil.
*** Remember to keep the coil flat against the sewing machine and your fingers on top of the rope, pressing down gently to rotate the coil.
- Continue stitching and coiling the rope until the base of your basket is as large as you want it to be.
- Now it's time to start forming the sides of the basket. With the needle in the down position and your presser foot down, put your hand under the coil of rope, making the base as vertical as you can get it. Continue to zigzag stitch. Keeping your right hand on the free end of the rope and your left hand lifting the base of the basket.
- Now you can play with the tension of the rope to create a deeper or shallower basket. If you'd like the basket to be shallower, continue to hold the same tension on the rope as you were when you were creating the base. If you'd like the basket to be deeper, simply increase the tension. The tighter the tension you hold on the rope, the more vertical the sides or walls of the basket will become.
- Once your basket has reached the desired size, cut the end of the rope at an angle (a few inches away from your needle) and continue to zigzag stitch, backing up to secure the ends.
ALTERNATE: You can also finish the end of your basket with a loop. Again, you'll cut the end at an angle on the top of the rope. Fold the rope under and zigzag in place. Backstitch as needed to secure the ends of the rope.
- You can also finish the end of the basket by folding over a piece of leather or faux leather and stitching in place. This will hide or cover the end of the rope, giving a neater or tidier finish.
- You can also add handles to your basket. Refer to the video for instructions.
More Sewing Ideas
If you enjoyed learning how to sew a cotton clotheseline rope basket, you might also like these sewing project ideas from The Birch Cottage:
Learn to Sew
These clothesline rope baskets are so fun to make! You can even make them different shapes, add handles, add color, and even embroider on the base of the clothesline rope baskets.
If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and help you with learning how to sew these beautiful cotton clothesline rope baskets.
Til next time…
And, be sure to pin this cotton clothesline rope basket sewing project idea to your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later or to share with family and friends.