“This rope tote is the perfect size for housing your packed lunch, phone, keys and purse. During the festive season, it’s a great way to carry home your Christmas haul and itty bitty stocking stuffers. I love a gift you can sneak home leftover ham in, too!” says Gemma Patford. With Mother’s Day coming up this would make a lovely handmade gift in your mum’s – or special female’s – fave colour.
Gemma is known for her coiled and painted rope baskets and vessels. It all started when a friend gave Gemma a beautiful handmade crochet basket. With some guidance she tried to crochet one of her own, but Gemma says she was terrible at it and quickly lost interest – in crochet, but not vessel making. After doing some research she stumbled on a method involving rope and a sewing machine and a new passion and business were formed.
Let’s make a rope tote
You will need:
30 m (98 ft 5 in) of cotton rope
Paper or a drop cloth to paint on
Small craft paintbrush
Sewing machine with a zigzag stitch
Water-based acrylic paint in your favourite colours
Untangle your rope. Take one end and fold it (approximately 12 cm/4. in lengthwise) onto itself.
Place folded rope under your needle and slowly start to zigzag stitch the rope together. A thin oblong coil will begin to form. Continue to add to the size of the rope coil by sewing the loose rope to the coil. Be sure that the zigzag stitch captures both the loose rope and the coil as you sew.
Continue sewing this coil until it measures 20 cm (8 in) in length and 12 cm (4. in) in width. This will be the base of your rope tote. Lift the base and hold it at an angle against the left side of the sewing machine. Continue to sew more of the loose rope to the coil. You will notice that the rope will begin to curve and the sides of the rope tote will begin to form. Continue to sew the sides of the tote until it reaches about 17 cm (6. in) in height. Remove it from the sewing machine.
Let’s talk handles! If you refer to the image, I left a gap for my arm to fit through, which was 12 cm (4. in) wide. To accomplish this, I used pins to mark 6 cm (2. in) on either side of the middle point along the top of the basket. With the pins in place, continue to sew your tote until you reach the first pin.
Stay with me, this is about to get wordy. From the first pin, measure out 47 cm (18. in) of loose rope. Attach another pin to the lose rope at the 47 cm (18. in) mark, which will be where your handle ends. See, it is even starting to look like a handle! Line up the handle pin with the second pin on the basket.
Beginning at the second pin, sew the handle to the basket. Sew the rope until you reach the next (third) pin. Repeating what you did on the other side, measure out 47 cm (18. in) of loose rope. Attach a fourth, and last, pin at the 47 cm (18. in) mark. Repeat these steps, sewing the rope until your handles are nice and thick. I recommend your handles are at least three ropes thick!
Loop the last part of the rope underneath itself and sew it closed.
Paint the bottom half of your tote and leave it to dry overnight.
Roped In by Gemma Patford
Gemma’s new book has just been released and it’s full of rope projects like this one, as well as other fun craft ideas.
This tutorial is an edited extract from Roped In by Gemma Patford published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $29.99. It’s now available in stores nationally and also online.
See more of Gemma’s work, purchase her vessels and find out about workshops on her website.
Next week I’ll have a couple of bundles of fabulous new release books to give away, including a copy of Roped In. Stay tuned!