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the red thread rope coil vessels tutorial

TUTORIAL :: How to make rope coil vessels

These rope coil vessels are quite meditative to make. I found the repetition of the stitches gave me a sense of stillness as I sat in the autumn sun making them. They are very sturdy and you can make them in any size or shape you like. Mine have straight sides (well, handmade, wonky/straight sides!) and I’m now making some rounder shapes. I made a small bowl to put bits and pieces of jewellery in, and the taller ones are now on my desk with markers and pens in them.

There are various methods of making rope coil bowls and baskets, and the traditional way of stitching is more uniform than I have made mine. In my tutorial the placement of the stitches is random and I love the texture and visual interest that results from this method.


the red thread rope coil vessels

You’ll need:

Cotton rope. Any thickness you like, mine is 4mm (an eighth of an inch) in diameter. Cotton sash cord or clothesline is a good option. The medium size vessel used roughly 6 metres (5 and a half yards).
Embroidery floss or any fine cord.
A large darning needle.

the red thread rope coil vessels materialsThe cute ‘Craft Keepers’ I have my thread on are my design and are sold at fabric stores.
I’ll have them available in the red thread online store in the coming weeks.


There’s no need to cut the cord – it’s better to leave it on the spool so you aren’t limited by it’s length.

Thread the needle with a long length of floss and tie a knot in the end. Cut the floss to a length as long as you can manage without it getting tangled.

Tightly roll up the cord, tucking the end into the centre of the coil (top left hand image below).

Pass the needle through the first couple of coils, then pass it through again at right angles to the first pass (top right hand image below).

Now the centre of the coil is secure you can begin to stitch. Stitch over the top of two coils of rope and pass the needle down and between (bottom left hand image below).

The next stitch only wraps around one coil of rope. Instead of passing the needle through the gap allow it to catch a small section of the second coil of rope. This will make the vessel sturdy and secure.

Continue coiling the rope around and alternating stitches over one piece of rope, then over two pieces of rope. Make sure the needle passes through the rope below at not just the gap.

the red thread coil bowls tutorial 1

Continue to stitch around the coil at random but close intervals.

To end a thread pass the needle through the stitch below (bottom left photo, below) and pull it tight.

Take the needle underneath the coil base and knot it around another stitch (bottom right photo, below).

the red thread coil bowls tutorial 2

Run the thread under a few of the stitches on the side of the previous coil (top left photo, below), then cut the thread.

To start a new thread run it under the same stitches but in the opposite direction (top right photo, below) until the end is concealed.

When you’re happy with the size of the base hold the rope on top and begin to build up the sides (bottom right photo, below).

the red thread coil bowls tutorial 3

For the first round all your stitches will wrap around both pieces of rope: the base and the new coil (top left photo, below).

After the first round go back to alternating stitches as before, making sure at least every second stitch passes through the rope in the previous round.

When you are happy with the height of the vessel continue stitching until you have completed a round. Look back at the base and find the place where you started to overlap it to make the side wall. The top should finish directly above that spot.

Cut the rope off on an angle so it tapers off (bottom left photo, below).

Continue stitching and secure the tapered end.

To finish off knot the thread around a stitch and run the thread between two pieces of rope below so it disappears between them. Cut the thread off making sure the end isn’t visible.

the red thread coil bowls tutorial 4

I hope you enjoy making these vessels – the possibilities are endless with colour and shape variations. Cotton rope can be dyed too, so you needn’t be restricted to white.

the red thread rope coil bowls tutorial

  • Juliet

    Love these. And your super gorgeous craft keepers. Thank you!

    • the red thread

      Thanks Juliet :)

  • http://melstampz.blogspot.ca/ mel mccarthy

    These are so gorgeous & thank you for the detailed instructions. Makes me think even I could make them! 😀

    • the red thread

      You can Mel! Give it a go. I promise they aren’t tricky. Once you get started you’ll be off!

  • http://ohoh-blog.blogspot.mx Ama Ryllis

    Lovely! I like the thread colors you pick!

  • http://Dudleyredhead.blogspot.com Tara

    Something else to try! Love love the thread keepers!

  • http://www.robailey.com.au Ro Bailey

    I saw a basket similar to this where the cord was first wrapped with strands of fabric then sown together. It looked sensational. Mind you I don’t mean to knock these, they are great too.

    • the red thread

      There seem to be quite a few different methods to make rope coil vessels, each with slightly different results. Which is great – we can pick the method that we like best.

  • Kristin

    Thank you so much for sharing, can’t wait to give it a go, I just hope mine will turn out even half as lovely as yours:)

    • the red thread

      Oh thanks Kristin. I hope you try it… they aren’t hard… you can do it!

  • Cath

    I cannot wait to make these!thanks Lisa!!

  • Sarah

    Made one today!
    I used Yellow, green, light blue, and navy blue thread with some clothesline. Thank you for the clear tutorial.

    • the red thread

      Yay!! That sounds lovely! I’m always so happy to hear when people make things from my tutorials.

  • tina wilson

    Please notify me when your adorable thread holders are available online! I haven’t ever seen them in my local shops. Thank you.

    • the red thread

      Hi Tina, I’ll post a notification here on my blog when I get then in my online store.

  • http://janmadeit.wordpress.com/ Jan

    I’ve made the fabric strip kind, but I really like this style. And You’re right! The possibilities are endless. If you’re using white cotton thread with white cotton rope, you could dip the whole thing in a dye bath. Pull it out of the dye in stages and you’ll get beautiful layers of color.
    If my list of things to do wasn’t so long or I’d be coiling one of these up right now.
    I’ll share what I come up with when I get time to make one.

    • the red thread

      Hi Jan – oh yes, a dip dyed version would be soo good! I’d love to see what you make.

  • http://patriciaelenaortiz patricia ortiz

    bello. precioso ..gracias por compartir , lo copio para que otras aprendan …muy generosa de tu parte por enseñar tu arte …bs

    • the red thread

      thanks so much!

  • Anick Jazlan

    I think they are lovely. Got to try this.

  • claudia


    It is wonderful.. In Africa they do the same marvelous vessels but instead of cotton threads they use plastic bags for shopping…I love it… Thanks for the “partage” as we say in France

    • the red thread

      Oh yes Claudia I’ve seen those too. It’s something that I’ve been meaning to try.

  • Jannah

    I am in love with this DIY…thanks so much for posting it, I can’t wait to try it tonight!

    • the red thread

      Thanks Jannah – I hope you enjoy making these!

  • regina chse

    how much rope is needed to make a basket like the one shown

    • the red thread

      Hi Regina, the medium sized vessel used about 6 metres (5 and a half yards).

  • e

    Hey there:

    Which is the medium vessel?

    • the red thread

      Hello! The medium one is the vessel of medium height – not the tall one, not the squat one – the black and white one.

  • jet

    thank you very much of your greate tute, and the sharing, i was searching for a good one. I like to try one, have a nice decembre month and for later a merry xmas time, and a good newyear with alot of inspiration and crafting time;-D

  • Eva

    What great instructions! A project I can do and one that looks absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for posting this.

  • Nicole

    I adore your coil pots so much that I am basing my final project for weaving off of one of your straight coil pots. Thank you so much for becoming a designer! It would be a blessing if you respond back to me.

  • 136

    thanks :-* :_*

  • MMDobson

    I made some that are a mashup of these,and the fabric coil bowls, using crochet instead of needle and thread. Using old fabric and yarns on hand, I can make endless varieties and crochet makes it go much faster for me.

  • http://www.katiemakes.net Katie

    Ummm, yes. I think I need to make several of these as fillers for my bookcase. Love, love, love! :)

  • Molly

    This is a great tutorial – I’ll definitely give it a try. Random question: where are the gold hoops in the last picture from? They are beautiful!

  • Cathy

    Thanks so much for the easy to follow instructions. I am onto my second basket varying the thread and cord. Very relaxing craft activity.

  • http://pixiestrinkets.etsy.com Rebekah

    I’ve made a couple of these already. They’re so fun to make and super affordable! Your instructions are very easy to follow. Thanks!!

  • http://thejaguarartroom@weebly.com Mary Jane

    Hey RT! Do you think my sixth grade art students can handle this as the last project for this school year? Thanks! mjcalhoun-donelan

    • the red thread

      Hey Mary Jane – if they have patience then yes, it would be fine for them. It is time consuming, although my daughter who is in 5th grade can do it. Best of luck. Lisa

  • J

    I love these! I’ve made two already.
    Amazing tutorial

  • Anna

    They are just lovely!! can’t wait to make them!

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  • Adri

    Finally got some rope with this project in mind. I really love this and hope mine turns out half as good as yours. I think your tutorial is awesome and love the pictures to help along the way. Wish me luck!