Melbourne maker Gemma Patford shares her fun and charming style with this playful project from her new book, Roped In 

rope vessel

Every living space needs a clutter catcher. Whether it’s jewellery or guest soaps or potatoes, this beautiful rope vessel will keep all your bits and bobs neat and tidy. When your phone vibrates and you receive a message that your guests are 10 minutes away, quickly grab all those loose bits of household crap and throw them into a stylish handmade rope vessel. Suddenly your space will be transformed from scrappy to SNAPPY (OMG, LOL, did I just write that? – YOU BETCHA I DID!).


+ 10m of cotton rope

+ 1m x 1m piece of paper to paint on

+ Small craft paintbrush

+ Water-based acrylic paint in your favourite colours

+ Sewing machine with a zigzag stitch

+ Sharp scissors

+ Thread

1. Untangle the rope and place it on the large piece of paper. Using the acrylic paints, dab blobs of colour in random spots on your rope. Let your freak flag fly. This step is optional, so you can be as reserved or as colourful as you like. Allow to dry.

2. Take one end of the decorated rope and coil it into a small circle, leaving a tail of loose rope. It should resemble the number 9.

3. Once you have a coil that’s big enough to sew, place it under your needle and slowly start to zigzag stitch the rope together. Bind the coil together by reversing over your stitches a few times to secure them. Repeat in the diagonal direction to the first line of stitching.

4. Once the coil is secure, slowly begin to zigzag stitch the loose rope to the coil. Be sure that the zigzag stitch captures the loose rope and the coil as you sew. This will be your vessel base.

5. Continue sewing the base until it measures 14cm in diameter.

6. As you continue to sew, lift the base of the vessel and hold it at an angle against the left side of the sewing machine. You will notice the base begin to curve, giving the vessel its sides. Continue to sew until the vessel reaches your desired shape and size (about 8cm-10cm high).

7. Fold the last few centimetres of rope underneath itself and sew it down to finish. Alternatively you can dip the end in paint to keep it from fraying, but I like the little folded-over nubbin.

TIP: Run out of rope? Add another length of rope by stitching the ends together. Keep the rope unravelled and loose in your lap so your machine doesn’t have to pull it up from the floor.