In this workshop, Steve Cromsigt explains a technique to create a two- or three-dimensional shape by sewing a cotton cord together in a spiral shape. The end product of this workshop is a multifunctional basket, but the technique has countless possibilities. You can think of a rug, a coaster, an artwork or planter in any shape or size.
- Sewing machine
- Jeans or leather needle for the sewing machine
- Cotton rope 4-8 mm thickness (depending on the size of your work & strength)
In this example, we used 70 m cotton of 5 mm thickness. The basket is approximately 35w x 25h cm. For this size, 5 mm is quite thin, making the basket flexible. If you want a firmer large basket, use for example 7 or 8 mm.
Step 1. Design:
Start with determining what kind of artwork or product you want to make, how big it should be and what shape and appearance it should have. Steve lists some elements below that have an impact on the appearance of your design. Use these elements to create your own design:
- The thickness of the chosen rope affects the result. A thinner rope can be used for a delicate, more refined shape. However, a rope that is thinner than 4 mm is not recommended for this technique. If you use a denser rope your design gets a heavier and unrefined look.
- You can make patterns in your work in all sorts of ways. For example, by combining rope in multiple colours.
- You can also experiment with the type of zigzag stitch, its rhythm, and the colour of the yarns to create a certain look or pattern.
Finally, there are many options to finish off your design after making the basic shape. In an extension of this workshop, Steve shows several ways to do this. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date.
Step 2. Getting started:
Cotton rope tends to fray. To prevent this, stick a piece of transparent tape on the end of the rope. Cut the rope to make sure there is only a small piece of tape left around the rope. You will not notice these tiny bits of tape in your final design. Wind the rope into a spiral that consists of four ‘layers’. Make sure that it is very tight and secure it with a few pins. Set your sewing machine to zigzag mode, check the thread tension and sew a cross over the spiral. Sew back and forth over the lines of the cross until the four layers of the spiral are firmly connected.
Step 3. Zigzagging:
You are using the zigzag stitch again. Take a moment to think about the settings of the zigzag, which width and length do you want to use? A wide or a compact zigzag each provide a different look. Now carefully sew the rope around the spiral you have made in the previous step. Sew a centimetre backwards at the beginning to fasten your thread. Continue sewing forward after this. Make sure the centre of the sewing machine’s foot is always in between the two pieces of rope. In the beginning, you can only zigzag two or three times before you have to stop the machine and turn your work in the right direction. Raise the foot, turn your work and continue sewing. Do this slowly so that the zigzag is spread across the rope evenly.
Step 4. Keep the work flat:
You start with the bottom of your design, which is completely flat. Guide the rope in such a way that it comes together nicely. Make sure you do not pull it, even a little tension will get your work out of shape. The work must always be completely flat to keep a straight shape. For example, grab a book with the same height as the sewing machine so that your work can rest on it and it does not hang next to the sewing machine.
Step 5. Adding a new piece of rope:
When you use multiple colours of rope or when your rope ends, you can easily add a new piece. Leave your work in the sewing machine, put a piece of tape around the end and beginning of the rope and cut it just like you did at step 2. Pin the new rope upon your work and make sure the ends stick out slightly. Now carefully sew the end of the rope, use scissors or something else that fits under your foot to press it well together. Repeat this step with the new piece of rope. Sew a bit back to secure your thread and continue your job zigzagging.
Steve used a blue yarn to sew back and forth several times to form a pattern and cover the transitions of the two different colours of rope.
Step 6. Start with a three-dimensional shape:
Measure the bottom of your work and put a pin at the point where you want to start upwards. When you get to the pin, lift your work slightly on the side where you are not sewing. Sew three layers of rope while you keep your work at the same height. After three layers, lift it a little further and sew around three more times. Next, bring your work in an almost verticle position and sew two more rounds. The next step is to bring your work in a completely vertical position while you sew around until the work has reached the height you want.
During this step, you determine the shape of your work. When you gradually move your work step by step to a vertical position while sewing, your work will get a round shape. If you want a straight upward shape, skip the steps and work from horizontal to vertical in one go. For the first few rounds, you have to lift your work a bit to get the edge straight up. After you have sewn the rope around a few times, you will notice that your work has taken a straight, tight shape. Continue sewing until you have reached the desired height. The longer you keep going and the bigger your work gets, the harder it is to keep it straight. Make sure your left hand always guides the work.
Step 7. Adding handles to your work:
Measure where you want the handle. Sew up to that point and make sure your rope is free from the work. Measure the length of your handle and put a pin on the point where the handle should be attached to your work. Continue sewing over the rope that is still attached to your work until you have reached the point where you want to reattach the handle. Take the piece of rope that you just left hanging loose (the handle), sew it to the work and continue sewing around. Repeat the steps above for the second handle (measure where the second handle should be if you want it to be parallel to the first handle). Just continue sewing and follow the shape of the handles to make them broader, you can repeat this a few more rounds until you are satisfied.
Step 8. Finishing:
Is your design finished? Stop sewing and cut the end of the rope diagonally. Sew the end of the rope tightly to your work to hide it invisibly.
There are various possibilities to finish off your creation and give it a personal twist. In the upcoming weeks, Steve will show you several variants in an extension of this workshop. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up to date.
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