Sewing With Rope


Rope is one of the oldest man-made tools.  Because rope is made from fiber, quilters are sewing useful items from rope.  Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

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Sewing With Rope

A few years ago, making baskets from rope was all the rage in our quilting guilds and bees. The large rope was covered with fabrics (batiks were wonderful) and then coiled and sewn into large utility baskets. There are many quilt shops today that still carry the rope and one in North Carolina that specializes in it.

Sewing With Rope


The oldest rope fragments found to date were made by Neanderthals and date to around 50.000 years ago. While we also think of fishing nets being made from rope for thousands of years, they were woven or knotted and not sewn.


Rope is made by twisting or braiding fibers. Twisting or braiding the fibers together made the rope a lot stronger than the original fibers. Rope was originally made mostly from plant fibers. The way the fibers are twisted makes it possible to incorporate fibers of many different lengths. We think of white cotton when we think of clothesline rope. However, today much rope is made of synthetic fibers and, therefore, can be made any color.


Rope can also be made of leftover fabric scraps. A search of the internet will yield videos and tutorials on how to make your own rope from your fabric scraps. If you think about braided rugs, the rope made to create them is braided from wool. Creating your own rope allows you to make the baskets without purchasing commercial rope.


These first two examples of sewing rope show a hot mat and a bowl. To make these, start with the end of the rope and gradually curl it around while stitching it together on your machine with a wide zig-zag stitch. I used a walking foot and heavy-duty needle because of the thickness of the rope. Use white thread on white cotton rope if you don’t want your stitches to show. These examples show just a splash of color made by wrapping the rope in batik in small areas of the basket. Lining the basket with a small glass or plastic bowl makes it clean and decorative.



I decided if I could make a bowl, I could make a wide-brimmed summer hat with the same techniques. I selected colors that match my swim cover-up.


  • I started by coiling a 4-inch flat area on my machine. In hindsight, bigger might have been better.


  • When you are ready to begin the walls of the hat, lift the coil at an angle so that the rope gradually slopes and widens.


  • When ready to add the brim, I needed to cut the rope and tuck it under. You can see a small hole in the side of the hat. I will probably decorate this with a feather or hat band.


  • Add the rope to make the brim by changing the direction that you are sewing to change the tilt of the hat.


Here is my completed hat! Yes, I’ve already worn it into the pool and it does retain its shape.



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A cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Due to modern advances in the textile industry, the term has been extended to include fabrics which incorporate traditional batik patterns even if they are not produced using the wax-resist dyeing techniques. Silk batik is especially popular.
The fabric on the back of a Quilt Sandwich (Top, Batting and Backing).

Same As: Backing
Walking Foot
A special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine which helps to feed the top layer of a quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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