Bronwyn’s Handmade Christmas: September 2016
Time is flying! I still haven’t settled on my handmade gift for everyone this year. I just keep collecting ideas and dabbling, but nothing has lit my fire yet. It could be that it’s hard to feel the pressure of Christmas when it’s still 85 degrees, but now that fall is officially here, it’s time to get on the ball. Christmas is only three months away!
To create a rope basket, I found several methods to choose from. First, using hot glue to adhere the coiled rope to itself. No thanks. That seems like it’s just inviting disaster (while making it or while using it). Second, crocheting the rounds of rope together (like this and this). This method definitely has potential, but it takes longer. Third, and the route I chose, using a sewing machine to zigzag the rounds of rope together. (This one is absolutely gorgeous! If you subscribe to Creativebug, they have a good video tutorial.) A variation of this is to first wrap the rope with scraps of fabric or even yarn just before you zigzag. (I like the look of the baskets shown here.)
cotton rope — I used cotton/poly clothesline, 3/16″ x 100 ft, from Wal-Mart for under $4. (Choose rope that is close to 1/4″. Much thicker than that will be difficult to fit under the needle.)
sewing thread — a full spool or more, in one or more colors
Like many projects, the hardest part is getting started. The clothesline I used is cotton braid with a polyester core. It’s surprisingly multicolored and ultra-multi-stranded. Bending the rope makes the core pop out a little. The trick I learned is to slide the outer cotton sheath back to expose the core. Then, pinching the core firmly, cut it back about an inch or so. Slick the cotton back down. This leaves the end of the rope empty and less bulky for starting the spiral and the fuzzy core isn’t exposed.
Begin with a FULL bobbin. This project eats thread.
Fold over about 1″ of the end of rope. With the fold at the top, cut end on the left, and working rope on the right, backstitch to secure the beginning of the thread, and begin sewing with a zigzag stitch. Rotate your work (not the length of loose rope) counterclockwise as you continue to wrap the new rope around. Use the center point of your sewing machine foot to follow the groove between ropes so the zigzag straddles evenly. Work in a flat spiral until the disc is the size you want for the base. If you want it to flare out as the sides grow, begin tilting the disc at a 45-degree angle. This angle will fatten the basket. When you’re happy with the overall width, tilt the basket up to 90 degrees to build the sides straight up. If you want straight sides without flaring first, skip the 45-degree angle and immediately go to 90. When you’re ready to finish off the basket, cut the rope about 3″ from where you’ve stopped sewing. If your rope has a core, you can trim it back to reduce bulk as before. Fold it over so that the cut end is tucked in between the basket and the working rope. Join the cut end to the basket with a zigzag until you reach the fold. Zigzag backward over the remaining bit of rope to secure. (There are countless ways to add handles to your basket if you want them. This tutorial walks through one type that looks nice.) Trim threads and marvel at your new basket!
It’s best to work slowly in order to achieve neat results. In my case, I put my pedal to the metal and just let it rip! (I sometimes like to imagine that I’m on Project Runway and am sewing at the speed of light on an industrial machine.) That means that I did go off course once or twice and had to backstitch to close up those gaps. That’s what some of those darker blobs are in my samples. After a couple of those re-dos, I added in a few backstitches here and there just to balance things out. Planned imperfections. If you don’t want any mistakes to show, you can go back with a needle and thread that matches the rope and close up any holes. Mistakes will be more obvious if you use dark thread. Using neutral thread is a smart choice for the first try.
One more note:
If you need to stop and start in order to close up gaps or to change a bobbin, the basket might be hard to slip back under the needle. Try disengaging the feed dogs while you reposition the basket and the stitches won’t get caught on them. Just be sure to put them back up or you won’t get anywhere.
Now that I’ve got the hang of it, I think I might have to attempt a larger basket to wrangle balls of yarn or clutter that accumulates at my knitting nest.
Watch for the release of my Gathering Rosebuds pattern VERY soon!