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How to Make a Rope Bowl or Basket (with a Fun Twist)

Rope bowls are bang on trend right now and our easy step by step tutorial shows you exactly how to make this coveted item. Rope bowls look impressive, but are actually quite easy to make, and you can vary the finishes and colors to create a host of different looks. They are useful in the bedroom for holding hair accessories, toiletries, jewelry and make up. In the sewing room you can organize sewing accessories in these attractive bowls that will form part of the display. Put one on a hall table to hold keys, in the office to hold phone and laptop chargers, display with a pretty pot plant in the kitchen or the lounge – in fact the ways to use the DIY rope bowls seem endless.

diy rope bowl

A rope basket is one of the most wanted home décor items right now. When you can watch and follow our step-by-step tutorial, then why spend a fortune when you can make your own DIY rope basket. They are so much fun to do and can be made in various thicknesses of cotton rope or macramé thread, from small to large. As long as it can fit under your machine you are good to go. They are a wonderful present to make for birthdays, as housewarming gifts and to fill with goodies for various celebrations – where the container is also the present and can be used afterwards for storing or displaying various items.

diy rope bowl with handles

Below you will find my step by step written tutorial with VIDEO instructions for all the visual learners.

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How to make a rope bowl or basket

Supplies and tools

rope bowl supplies

  • cotton rope or macramé thread – 5/16″ (5mm) thick
  • (optional) fabric  – 1″ x 8″ long strips of cotton fabric in various colors
  • matching or contrasting thread
  • scissors (or rotary cutter and a cutting mat)
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • sewing clips or pins
  • sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch

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How to Sew a rope bowl or basket

Watch the diy rope bowl video first and then follow the written step by step instructions below.
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What do I need to make a rope bowl?

To make a rope bowl you will need cotton cording or macramé rope. A DIY rope bowl can be made on a domestic sewing machine, as long as it has the option of doing a zig zag stitch. You’ll also need some strong thread, pins, and you are all set to go once you have established the best width of the zig zag setting. Set the machine to a zig zag stitch – you might have to fiddle around a bit to get the right setting that pleases you by practising on some rope first. Experiment with a couple of small coils to check how the zig zag falls across the two pieces of cotton rope that it will be joining – we explain how to make a small coil in Step 2 below.


How to make a circular rope bowl by sewing (METHOD #1)


Decide on the diameter of the base of the bowl – it could be six inches, eight inches or more – it just depends what you plan on using it for. You will also need to decide on the shape – will it be flattish, flared outwards or have straight sides. You may have an idea of making a rope bowl as a container for a pot plant in which case it will need to fit the pot. You can always add plastic into the bowl later so when you water the plant it will not mark your rope bowl. Once you have your shape in mind you are ready to start.

First, cut the end of the rope at 45 degrees angle

cutting the rope at 45 degrees angle


To make a circular rope bowl start by coiling a small section of your cotton rope into a flat tight spiral between your fingers.

pinned rope coil

Once it is about an inch or so in diameter then you can place it under the foot of your sewing machine, ensuring the coil faces to the left and that any new cotton rope that is to be wound on, will be fed from the right.  You want the bowl to grow from the left as you make it, otherwise it is going to be impossible to manoeuvre under the sewing machine as it grows larger.

sewing the coil


Back tack to establish the start of the coil. Then carefully add to the coil feeding the cotton rope from the right while stitching – the zig zag will bind the rope together as you feed it through. In the beginning it is a bit fiddly as you have the make fairly tight turns as the coil is small but it gets easier as the coil gets bigger. When you start you may have to lift the presser foot, while keeping the needle in the rope to make the small turn, then put the presser foot down again before sewing again.

rope bowl - sewing the base with zig zag


Add new rope continuously while continuing to join with the zig zag stitch.

Once the correct diameter is reached it is time to start building the sides.

measuring the base of the diy rope basket

I settled on 8″ (20 cm) base for this one


Up until this point the base has been kept flat on the left of the sewing machine as the circles get bigger and bigger. Now to get the walls to go up straight simply tip the base upwards almost to a 90-degree angle to your sewing machine and continue feeding in the coil and zig zag stitch each new coil to the base.

sewing the sides of the rope bowl at 90 degrees angle

If you want the bowl to flare out slightly then simply lower the angle from a 90 degree upright to be slightly closer to the machine surface – this will make it flare outwards, to bring it up perpendicular lift again to the 90-degree angle.

sewing the sides of the rope bowl at 45 degrees angle

When the coil of rope runs out you can add another piece, overlaying slightly where the first piece ended and backtacking to keep the ends in place, then continue with the zig-zag stitch. You can also use this method to change cotton rope colors if you are planning on having a different band of color, or a series of bands, on the rope basket.

I find this the easiest method to gently guide the bowl:

how to sew rope bowl

STEP 5: Finishing the end of the rope

When you have completed the basket shape there are a number of ways of finishing off the end of the rope:

making rope bowls - finishing the end of the rope

  1. You can simply cut and tuck the raw edges of the rope downward on the inside of the bowl and zigzag in place, back tacking so it is secure and no bit fray out. (white rope basket pictured in the tutorial)
  2. Use a glue gun and stick down the last bit of the coil to keep it in place.
  3. Make a small loop with the rope and stitch it back onto the inside of the basket. You can attach some beads, shells, leather thongs or feathers to the loop to decorate the basket.
  4. Simply back tack about five inches from the end of the rope and tie a decorative knot in the rope and fray out the loose end.
  5. Back tack close to the end then fasten a decorative beaded or silken tassel, or a couple of feathers to the end of the rope.
  6. The end can also be finished with a large bead that can pass over the last bit of rope and be knotted into place.
  7. You can create handles by stitching on a couple of coils together and adding them to the basket. (pink rope bowl pictured above)

rope bowl side view

No-Sew Rope basket – Method #2:

If you don’t have a sewing machine but still want a rope bowl then you can join the coils with a hot glue gun. Watch your fingers when you work with the glue gun (says someone who has had the experience of hot gluing fingers). Gluing is probably not the best way to make the bowl as it doesn’t have the flexibility that the zigzag stitching brings to the baskets. Try to find a friend with a machine and work together on making these.

DIY Rope Bowl FAQs:

Q: Can I use contrasting color thread or should it blend with the color of the rope?

A: You can create a feature of the stitching with a high contrast thread that will bring extra texture to the basket. Most people tend to use a neutral color to blend with the basket color. There are no ‘rules’ – whatever you think is beautiful.

diy rope basket in use

Once you have made one of these baskets you are going to want to play around with making different shapes of basket. They are a wonderful present to make for birthdays, as housewarming presents and for festive seasons – fill with Easter eggs, candy for Halloween, pumpkin spice muffins for fall and with various small gifts, or baked goods at Christmas time. If you loved this project please hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out on any of our great tutorials.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 24 comments
Dianna McPhee - March 26, 2022

I don’t understand how you got the color into the basket.

    Helen - March 28, 2022

    Just wind some fabric strips around the rope and sew with a zig zag as you would normally would sew the rope basket

      rita - May 22, 2022

      After watching your video, I’m anxious to make a basket. Can you tell me approximately how many yards of the cord was used to make the basket in the video?

        Helen - May 23, 2022

        Hi Rita, I didn’t measure the rope. I bought 25 yards and still have plenty left, so I probably used 15-18 yards for the rope basket

    Candice - March 31, 2022

    She wrapped colored strips of fabric around the rope while sewing the rope into a bowl?

Kailey - March 26, 2022

Wow, this is so cool! I made one of these using braided strips of fabric, but this method is great too! Thanks for sharing this! I love your projects!

    Helen - March 28, 2022

    It’s good to hear you like it so much, Kailey! It’s a fun project

      Candice - March 31, 2022

      I l?VED your video. You made it look so easy. I got a lil sewing machine for Christmas. Can’t wait to try this.I seen some rope baskets at the market forsale and they were expensive. They were made with quarter size width rope. Thank you so much?

        Helen - March 31, 2022

        You are so welcome, Candice! I’m glad you liked the tutorial. It’s super easy once you get the hang of it

angela - April 3, 2022

What kind of presser foot are you using?


    Helen - April 9, 2022

    It’s the standard presser foot

angela - April 4, 2022

Can you tell me what presser foot you used and what your stitch length is? I’m having a hard time getting my zig zag stitch to sew the adjacent cords together and am ending up with spaces in the cording — arrgh very frustrating


    Helen - April 7, 2022

    I’m using the standard presser foot, using the medium wide zig zag, stitch length ~3.
    Before you start stitching test your settings on a small scrap piece of cording
    I believe your stitch width is too small – increase it
    Line up your machine so the middle of the ropes is fed under the needle.
    hope that helps

Michele Morin - May 18, 2022

So many uses for this pretty thing!

Marsha Cooper - May 19, 2022

They did a workshop on this at guild. I didn’t take the class and still want to make these…….but, one member told me that every time she makes them her machine has to go into the shop to be serviced. That scared me away.

    Helen - May 19, 2022

    Oh no. What is her machine? Did they tell her what’s the problem? I had no problems whatsoever sewing these and I made a bunch

Esmé Slabbert - May 20, 2022

Outstanding and so beautifully done. @esmesalon #SeniorSalonPitStop

Maureen - May 20, 2022

What a fun and cool DIY sewing craft! This rope basket looks amazing. It definitely makes for a wonderful or or even a gift.

Maureen |

Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs - May 22, 2022

Oh wow, what a handy project. They can be used for so many things. Great tutorial. #MMBC

Donna @ Modern on Monticello - May 24, 2022

I love these. I have pinned it for the day I finally break down and get a new sewing machine. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. #HomeMattersParty

Rhondda Mol - May 25, 2022

I love your Rope Baskets and Rope Bowls! The video tutorial demonstrates how easy it is to make them – I honestly thought they would be much harder to make. I’m excited to give this a try! Thank you for linking up at our weekly Link Party! You are being featured at our Wednesday Party #452 this week. Here’s the direct link to the post in case you’d like to share your feature:
Hope to see you again next week! Rhondda

Carol - May 26, 2022

What a wonderful idea and tutorial. Thanks for sharing at my party last week. Featuring when this week’s party opens tonight!

Chickenruby - May 26, 2022

What a fab idea, looks really great and very handy. Thanks for linking with #pocolo

Kerryanne - May 27, 2022

What a fun project Helen!!
Thank you for sharing your rope bowl DIY at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring it at the party tonight and pinning too.


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