I've been making coiled rope baskets for a while now, I even shared a tutorial last year about my process.
Since then I have done a lot of playing and experimenting with sewing rope, I even used my scraps from failed attempts to make coiled rope pouches.
Finally, after all kinds of trial and error, I was able to figure out how to make coiled rope tote bags. Since my art and crafting process is all about figuring it out on my own (no patterns for me) and coming up with a way that works best for my brain- it took a while to sort out the process. I tried over and over again to create a large tote bag and finally had success and today share the process with you!
I start with cotton clothesline rope. You can use just about any kind of rope but I really like the clothesline rope because it is easy to work with and doesn't fray. While you could wrap your rope in fabric, I actually like painting or dying it.
To begin, coil the rope into an oblong shape. When you are making a basket you simply coil the rope into a circle but making a tote or purse requires an oblong shape for the base.
Using a sewing machine, zig zag stitch the coil together and keep coiling and stitching.
My oblong coil base roughly measures 4 x 10 inches. This step is actually the most important because the size will determine how big your purse or tote will be.
When I began figuring out my tote bag design, I made the mistake of making the bottom portion too long and ended up with a GIANT bag. After a lot of experimentation, I finally figured out that base needed to be smaller- a base around 4 x 10 inches will get you a pretty standard sized tote.
FYI- I spend lots of time sewing heavy duty and non-traditional materials on my machine- I typically use a denim needle for these kinds of projects.
Once you have the base of the basket, create the sides of the tote by tilting the coiled rope as up as you sew. The minute you begin tilting is when the sides will begin to form!
Continue sewing until the sides are the desired size. My tote bag measures 13 inches tall, my purse is 10 inches tall.
The last step is to add handles. I found some fun handles at my local craft store and hand sewed them on.
The result is a really simple and unique bag...just in time for the Farmers Market!